When we launched our Black Leather Collection, we asked five of the most talented people we know to put the collection to use in their daily creative lives. Julie Van Daele is the founder of WELL RECEIVED, which—among other things—creates timeless stationery that embraces raw materials and textures. We met Julie through friends on a recent trip to LA, and we were overwhelmed with her taste, creative outlook, and generosity, as she willingly served as our tour guide to the boutiques of downtown LA. Below, read our full Q&A with Julie and see some shots of her work and of our black leather Clifton backpack. Julie will also be taking over our Instagram account today (Monday, September 26) to share a day-in-her-life from Southern California.
Julie carries our new black leather Clifton backpack, below.
ONA: How did you first get into design?
I actually do not have any background in design but have followed design for the last 10 years. My love for design first started with fashion design and loving brands like Rick Owens, Comme des Garçons, Ann Demeulemeester and Margiela for their unique perspective, incredible details and timeless design. Those brands opened my eyes and led me to my love of all things design, whether it be architecture, books, paper, landscape or fashion.
ONA: Where did the idea for WELL RECEIVED come from?
I was raised being taught that you send thank you notes to anyone that gives you a gift or does something nice for you, so I carried that rule with me throughout my life, writing notes to say thank you, to tell people I was thinking about them or to share my condolences. You can ask any one of my friends, and they will say that hand written notes have always been my “thing”!
As time went on, and technology became most people’s only way of communicating, it became even more evident to me that taking the time to write someone a hand-written note went miles, as opposed to shooting them a quick text and/or email.
What made me decide to launch WELL RECEIVED started when we were planning our wedding and wanted to write each guest a hand-written note to tell each person how much we appreciated the role they played in our life. As I looked for cards, they either were super sarcastic or way too cutesy for me and so I started teaching myself how to use photoshop and created my first WELL RECEIVED card, which I still sell to this day.
These personal cards at our wedding were very “well received” with guests and I began selling them on the side, while I worked a full time job. Eventually, I decided to pursue WELL RECEIVED full time.
Over the past year, WELL RECEIVED has continued to evolve. Under the WELL RECEIVED umbrella, I now handle not only the stationery side of things, but I also consult for like-minded brands in regards to their communication strategy, press and custom product design.
ONA: How do you approach a new project – and what are the steps you take from idea to something that resembles a proto-type or first draft?
JVD: To be honest, I don’t really have a process. All of this started from a genuine desire to create and I felt that what I created came from the heart. I made a promise to myself that anything I create must be a genuine reflection of me. It can’t feel forced.
I do draw inspiration from architecture and travel, which sometimes can help with the creativity process.
ONA: Do you still consider yourself a New Yorker? And how does your time in New York inform your work?
JVD: Ha! No I definitely cannot consider myself a New Yorker…not because I don’t love that city, but simply because I only survived there 4 years! I think the general rule is you have to be there 10 to be a true ‘New Yorker’ right?! But that city significantly changed me and the way I viewed the world, people, and life. NY will always have a very special place in my heart.
As for NY’s influence, I think it’s very accurate to say that New York had a very heavy influence on my aesthetic and the minimal design aspect.
ONA: How do you describe your personal style and design aesthetic? Are there 2-3 principles you always keep in mind?
JVD: My personal style and design aesthetic are one in the same. Everything I represent or create must be a genuine reflection of me.
If I had to sum up my style it would be minimal with a focus on timeless and luxury staples.
ONA: Where do you draw inspiration from and who do you look up to creatively?
JVD: I draw a ton of inspiration from architecture and travel. We just went to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Iceland and Norway and that trip was INCREDIBLE. The landscape of Iceland and the design of Copenhagen sparked so many creative ideas for me.
Creatively I am inspired by brands that have great packaging and a cohesive design aesthetic. That packaging bit might sound funny, but the packaging is what any consumer sees first and I think it speaks volumes about the product inside.
A few brands that I think do a really great job are Sakara , Maison Margiela, STAMPD, Ett Hem Hotel in Stockholm, Byredo, and Aesop
ONA: What was one of your favorite days of the year so far creatively—and why?
JVD: I worked with menswear brand STAMPD on their application and presentation for CFDA’s fashion mentorship program. I had never done anything like this project and it came out absolutely stunning! It was so rewarding to see the final product and have the owner of STAMPD love it as well.
ONA: Do you have a dream project that you'd like to tackle in the next five years?
JVD: A dream project would be to open up a boutique hotel, similar to Ett Hem (Stockholm) or The Farmhouse Inn (Sonoma, CA). But we are just finishing building a house, so doubt that is happening soon!
Second dream would be to collaborate with a big hotel in a major way. Not really sure what that looks like, but I’m putting it out there!
ONA: What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals, regardless of medium?
JVD: Two things:
- Do only what comes naturally and genuinely to you
- Stop comparing yourself to others
ONA: What are the three items you carry in your bag at all times?
JVD: Cell phone, Hudsalve lipbalm and my Ann Demeulemeester wallet that I’ve had for 8 years!
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