We had the good fortune of connecting with Ji Hwang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ji, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think about risk as an essential part of growth. Without taking risks, I keep myself in my comfort zone, which can be good at times and only to a certain degree. But if I stay too long in my comfort zone, I tend to get stuck in my ways, I get lazy, and things start to become very stagnant… sometimes to the point where the universe will just shake things up for me. For me, taking risks is a way of testing your faith. When you’re making hard decisions, it’s a way of believing that no matter what path you take, neither will be indefinitely right nor wrong because anything can happen at any time to change that course. Sometimes you won’t even see it coming… and it’s something you couldn’t have even imagined happening before. Taking risks is believing that you’re making room for any of the infinite possibilities that the future has in store for you.
But ultimately, you have to believe in yourself! When I’m taking risks, if I’m not grounded in myself, my truths, my beliefs… that’s when things don’t really pan out in the best way. That’s when I feel like the universe is telling me to try again.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started Kozmicroots while attending college at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I was working for a jewelry designer on the weekends at a funky flea market in Williamsburg. I owe a lot of my jewelry skill and knowledge to this woman (ASTALI Jewelry). During my leave of absence from Pratt, I worked full-time for her, assembling and selling her jewelry pieces. Eventually, I developed my own style and felt inspired to start my own business. At this point in time, I was struggling with the fast-paced city lifestyle and wanted a change of pace. That’s when I moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, to slow down and reconnect with myself. I’m so grateful for the community that I now live in. People in this town have been so loving, supportive, and accepting, not only of my artwork but also of myself as a person.
The name, Kozmicroots, reflects our deep and fundamental connection to the cosmos and all of its magic and mysteries. This connection is something that I like to embrace in the co-creative process of building a custom piece for a client. It’s really fun bringing someone’s vision to life.
My current specialty is electroforming glass pipes. After building a lot of jewelry inventory throughout the years, I felt that my work was lacking something. I felt like I was just making a lot of stuff, and I wanted to start creating things that were more practical. I work at a dispensary in Steamboat, and cannabis is one of my highest passions, so I decided to infuse that into my art and put some heart back into my work.
I adorn the glass with crystals, stones, bones, shells, literally anything one can imagine (as long as it won’t rot over time)… and affix everything together with a copper plating that I will set using an electrolytic bath. It feels like alchemy, watching something change so drastically, and feels like magic, being able to electroform anything from bones to pretzels.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hot springs, dispensary grow tour, my favorite burrito spot, hike somewhere with a view.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man… I feel like I’ve been influenced, inspired, and supported by so many people and things throughout my life! It’s hard to pinpoint, but I definitely want to dedicate my shoutout at least to all the women in my life who’ve redefined what it means to be strong and who’ve shown me that it’s possible to start and run your own business. I owe a lot to my friends and peers who support my artwork because it means the world to me, especially when they reach out for a custom piece. The co-creative process in building a custom piece is special to me because of the new possibilities that wouldn’t have otherwise been thought of without the other person.