The Muse Within: Judy Blank’s Creative Jean Journey
In this month’s Jean Journey feature, we’re excited to share how hair stylist, jewelry designer and single mother Judy Blank found inspiration and resilience from within to pursue her own creative dreams, champion her children, and provide an environment where authenticity could thrive. Read on for how she overcame her learning disabilities by tapping into her strengths and gifts, took on new opportunities and side hustles to financially support her family, and helped blaze a trail for her transgender daughter.
Where do you call home?
I have had the privilege of living on both East and West coasts but two years ago decided to move back to my native home, Los Angeles, to start a new phase in my life.
Tell us some things about you!
Growing up, I struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia, ADHD and memory retention issues that impacted my confidence at school, but at home I found fulfillment and confidence in pursuing my creativity. As an adult, another source of joy was becoming a mother to an amazing son and daughter. But motherhood also came with challenges. Raising my children, primarily as a single mom, I was forced to become resourceful and create all kinds of side hustles in order to financially support my family. Before there was such a thing as Airbnb, I rented a room in our home. I capitalized on my love of exercise by teaching spin classes and leading mountain bike tours. I organized people’s homes and sold tupperware and skin care products and built a salon in my basement so I could grow my hairstyling business from home. Ultimately, I discovered my passion for jewelry-making.
My new business, Judabud Jewelry, has become the greatest outlet for my creativity, enabling me to make handmade pieces that symbolize the change my clients seek. Using precious metals and gemstones, I create custom design jewelry, with powerful symbolism, using an intricate hand-carving technique known as Lost-wax casting.
At Democracy Clothing, we’re all about looking good and feeling good while doing good. What’s the “good” you’re doing in the world?
Raising my transgender daughter Corey in the 1990’s, when even the term “transgender” was not well known, was an incredibly scary and challenging time. With an unwavering eye on the ball and fierce mama bear mentality, I made sure Corey knew she was loved and that we would get the support and information we needed so she could become her most authentic self.
Our experience sparked a deep desire in me to help other families so they don’t have to feel so alone. It’s overwhelming when your child is unique, you want to do everything you can to become educated and guide them over their particular hurdles, but don’t know where to find the answers you seek. Corey and I are both committed to sharing our experience to help families increase understanding, access resources and move through these kinds of transitions, so children can embrace who they are and advocate for themselves.
I also believe that no matter where we are in life, one has the ability to give back. The expansion of Judabud Jewelry will give me the opportunity to give back in a new way, with a commitment to donate a portion of proceeds to charities that help children and youth pursue their authentic path.
What pearls of wisdom do you have for other change-making women?
When I work with families, I always emphasize the importance of not allowing fear to make decisions for you. We need to recognize the fear that’s stopping us, acknowledge it, and then move past it. I highlight the importance of staying true to your instincts and not allowing other people’s negativity or judgment to influence your decisions.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to finding clothes that look good and feel good?
My biggest challenge is learning to embrace my body at an older age as I’m going through menopause. As my shape continues to change, I’m working on adapting alongside it and appreciating my whole self, not just my body. Also, because my career is multi-faceted, I need versatile clothing, like my favorites from Democracy, that can work for me whether I’m taking meetings, on my feet with clients, or at my workbench creating jewelry.
What’s your favorite Democracy jean and what do you love about it?
My absolute favorite pair of Democracy Jeans are the “Ab”solution Itty Bitty Boot Embroidered Pocket Jean. They help in all the right places and are super soft. The wash of the jeans is perfect because you can dress them up or dress them down. The back pockets are super handy and fashionable.
Democracy's core values are to embrace who you are, enhance what you got, elevate your confidence, and evolve your personal style. What advice do you have for becoming more comfortable and confident with who you are? How have you embraced who you are at this stage of your life?
On a personal level, I’ve learned to become the “CEO of Me,” to set boundaries aligned to my goals, and to pursue my dreams, even when a new opportunity feels scary. With each step I take, my confidence, connection to my inner strength and my creativity grows. And when it comes to living true to my most authentic self, the details count.
What are you most proud of?
Any time someone asks me this question, my first thought and what I visualize are my children. For most of their childhood, I was a single parent and I’m very proud of the time and effort I put into being present for my kids because they are happy, thriving, and extraordinary individuals. My son just married the love of his life, is finishing up his Masters program in Social Work and plans to start a family of his own soon. My daughter is an activist, model, writer, and is now following her dreams of becoming an actress. Her story of becoming the first transgender prom queen was written into a screenplay and is currently in pre-production as a feature film.
Where do you hope your jean journey will take you next?
My journey will take me to building awareness of my jewelry business so that when someone wears one of my pieces, they not only appreciate its beauty but connect to the meaning behind the piece and feel empowered. My hope is that through design, I can help other people get through tough transitions and find inspiration within. This year, I’m releasing a new collection called “Rae,” inspired by my daughter Corey. Drawing on the theme of a “bud,” the collection represents the beginning of one’s journey to embracing their individuality. I also hope to complete my memoir, "Back to Blank" about raising a transgender child in a time that very few resources were available and how I overcame my disabilities and tapped into my strengths to reclaim my life.
We’re honored to share Judy’s powerful story of creativity and resilience with you and can’t wait to follow her continued growth. To learn more about her and see her hand-made jewelry visit her website at www.judabudjewelry.com. And be sure to follow her @judabud.jewelry on IG to see where she goes next on her Jean Journey. Have you overcome challenges to blaze a path of your own? We’d love to hear from you.