Jill Donovan: the creative power behind Rustic Cuff
For those who don’t know Jill Donovan, she is the brains behind the extremely popular line of bracelets, Rustic Cuff. This Tulsa mom is fast becoming a fashion leader with her unique and beautiful jewelry. What’s the secret to her success? One reason might be that she is a creative genius; another is that she is passionate about what she is creating. In fact, she has developed an extensive line of bracelets that offers numerous styles, colors and ways to personalize. Several well-known stars accessorize with her arm candy on a regular basis – including Miranda Lambert, Gayle King (Oprah’s Best Friend) and Giuliana Rancic, to name a few.
TK: What did you like to do as a child?
JD: My dream was to be like Mary Lou Retton and go to the Olympics and win the gold medal in gymnastics. That all worked out perfectly until my team coach pulled me aside and told me that I would never be flexible enough to make it big. Maybe the fact that I never mastered the splits had something to do with it.
TK: Who were your influences growing up?
JD: Besides my mom and dad, it was probably Mary Lou Retton and Barry Manilow, which sounds completely random, but somehow worked. Mary Lou Retton had a dream to go to the 1984 Olympics and win the gold medal. I followed her and her story, and her passion for what she wanted to do was so contagious that I never forgot it. Barry Manilow…well, if you are a Manilow fan, then you understand. If not, then it’s not too late to start.
TK: Who/what are your influences now?
JD: Even though he may not believe it, it would be my husband, Terry. My closest circle of girlfriends also has a great influence on me, and I cherish the time that we get to spend together.
TK: Describe your personal fashion style.
JD: If you ask my husband, he would say “haphazardly chic” (whatever that means). If you ask me, it’s always three basics – boots, shorts and a jacket of some sort. I never wear pants unless it gets into single digits outside. My kids don’t ever need to watch the weather channel…they just need to see what mom is wearing. If I’m in pants, then it’s probably going to snow.
TK: What is the best advice you have ever received?
JD: My dad used to tell me growing up: Never cry over something you can buy. However, when I lost my favorite purse last year (that I bought in 2003 after passing the Bar Exam), and I spent the next five days calling to cancel those cards, I decided that I could cry, since you can’t buy that time back!
TK: How do you balance work, play and family?
JD: I used to try to balance it all, until I discovered that I couldn’t. I figured it out though. I just merged all of those worlds together and then it all seemed to balance itself out!
TK: What’s your favorite place in Tulsa to hang out with your kids?
JD: Besides the pool in our backyard, we love to go to Utica Square or anywhere on Brookside.
TK: Do you like to cook? If so, what are your family’s favorites?
JD: If, by cooking, you mean driving to Lambrusco’s to pick out something for dinner and then transferring it into my own cookware, then yes, I cook.
TK: What does your family enjoy doing together?
JD: We have a small sailboat on Oolagah Lake that my husband would take us to every single day if he could. Also, since mom does not cook, we like to visit new restaurants around Tulsa.
TK: What are your favorite Tulsa restaurants?
JD: We frequent (and that’s an understatement) Mi Cocina, Mondo’s and In the Raw.
TK: What do you like about raising your kids in Tulsa?
JD: The fact that it’s small enough that you feel like the whole town is connected through two degrees of separation, yet big enough that it has things, culturally and socially, that keep it exciting.
TK: You mentioned that your kids come to your office after school and help. Do they enjoy it? How are they able to help?
JD: “Help” is a very relative term. But they get very involved in the creative process of designing new color combinations, and they also are my go-to girls on whether or not they think a design will work for their age group. They often decorate the showroom and production space with their drawings that keep us all motivated.
TK: Where do you find your inspiration?
JD: I know there should be some magic answer to this question, but most of the ideas that come to me often come in the middle of the night – in the still of the night – when there is absolutely no commotion. It’s truly the only time that I can think clearly. I am inspired by things that I know will mean something to those that will wear it. Personalized items are the heart and soul of so many things we create.
TK: What is coming up for Rustic Cuff?
JD: A men’s line…which I have been wanting to do for a while now but am just now getting to spend some extra time developing it.
TK: In regard to your business, what’s the most surprising thing that has happened to you?
JD: I truly never had any desire to start or run a business. I always thought that I was going to literally eat bon-bons and catch up on all of the daytime television that I had missed for years when my girls were toddlers, but my passion for creating got the best of me. And here we stand, three years later, with 15 full-time girls that I love and adore, and amazing opportunities to do new things daily. I have not looked back for one single second; haven’t even glanced over my shoulder. I still would like to try bon-bons someday, though.
TK: What do you enjoy about your Tulsa-based business?
JD: I love that we live in a city that embraces what we do and makes us feel that what we do really somehow makes a difference in the community; that we live in a city where embracing your passion and following it is a good thing and makes you proud to say you live in the great state of Oklahoma. Going to the showroom every day feels like one big summer camp to me because of all the amazing people with heartwarming stories that we get to meet, and all the organic things that happen to us. I lived for camp when I was little, but now I get to experience it on a daily basis without ever needing to say goodbye to my cabin. Living in Tulsa has been a very big part of enabling us to do that.