Joanne Chu (she/her)
I am a first generation Chinese American designer based in California. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where there is a melting pot of different cultures and languages. I am most inspired by the powerful women in my life and the diversity in my communities. As a designer, I seek to find intersections between gender, the Asian diasporic experience, women’s empowerment, and how fashion plays a role within all of them.
For my thesis project, I wanted to honor Chinese culture and empower Asian Americans through jade jewelry. Jia Jewelry is an attempt to reconnect with my roots, a feat that many Asian Americans take on after years of assimilating into American culture. Despite the generational and cultural differences within my own family, what the powerful women in my family all have in common is the love for jewelry and that is how I am able to connect with my grandmother despite the language barrier. Jade jewelry holds a lot of symbolism in Chinese culture as it stands for protection and prosperity. It gives a sense of empowerment. I feel that much of the jade jewelry market online is detrimental to Asian representation because a lot of the language used is exoticist and promotes eurocentric ideas. This is why I felt a jade jewelry brand that centers Asian Americans was important in reclaiming and subverting the narrative. The name of my jewelry brand, Jia, translates to “home”. Given the current social-political climate, it would be empowering for Asian Americans to be able to carry with them a piece of protection, of identity, of heritage, and of our ancestral home.
View project website: Jia Jewelry