Julia Freifeld wears a handmade sea glass necklace everyday, a testament to her life goal: to make a societal change regarding sexual assault. Through jewelry and music, Freifeld shares her passions and brings awareness to an issue that affects one American every 98 seconds.
Freifeld graduated Spring 2017 with a degree in psychology. She now resides in San Diego, California where she is pursuing a career in music, both as a solo artist and as a member of a band.
Freifeld had been singing her whole life, but it was not until her junior year of high school that she began songwriting. She transformed one of her poems into song lyrics after learning how to play the guitar.
Finding her cause
During the first two weeks of Freifeld’s freshman year at Cal Poly, two of her best friends were sexually assaulted.
“This really shook my world, and I became involved in [raising] awareness,” Freifeld said.
She found a position at Safer as a marketing intern, and she started writing awareness pieces on the topic of sexual assault. Her first song, “Sexual Assault Awareness,” received more than 10,000 views in the first three days, and she received more than 50 messages from victims expressing their gratitude. Freifeld realized she could use her music not only to help heal sexual assault survivors, but also to inform people on the issue.
“I felt like music really communicated to people in a different, more deep way, kind of like talking to their souls,” Freifeld said.
Freifeld also found a position as a crisis counselor for survivors of sexual violence at RISE, a non-profit organization in San Luis Obispo that provides services for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
“[Freifeld is] doing a great job at raising awareness to end gender-based violence that we face not only in San Luis Obispo but in the world,” RISE Interim Director Matias Bernal said.
As a counselor, Freifeld noticed that everyone she talked to had a similar spirit and a sense of courage, and she wanted to display survivors’ strength through her music.
“It’s not even a want to make music; it’s a need to make music,” Freifeld said. “It’s a fire in my soul, my deepest passion … I can’t imagine my life without music because it’s just a part of me.”
For Freifeld, songwriting is typically a 15-minute process — “a lot of emotion in short bursts … kind of like word vomit,” Freifeld said — that begins with a chord progression and melodies, followed by a flow of song lyrics.
“[She] gives a voice to people who might otherwise not have a voice. She is singing about feeling like you’re not oppressed and changing the whole industry to bring meaning back into music,” Freifeld’s boyfriend and biological sciences alumnus Daniel Lomayesva said.
Expanding her mission
As a senior at Cal Poly, Freifeld created the company Jewels for Change to fundraise for organizations that support sexual assault survivors. She donated 20 percent of the proceeds to RISE and now donates 20 percent to the Women’s Resource Center of San Diego.
All of the necklaces, earrings and bracelets are individually created by Freifeld. Each accessory includes a piece of blue sea glass wrapped in sterling silver, the blue resembling the ocean and a symbol of a survivor’s journey.
“It’s an idea of resilience — even though you’ve been through these traumatic waters, who you are is shaped by them and because of them, you’re the most beautiful version of yourself and you have all the power in the world,” Freifeld said.
Freifeld said she hopes Jewels for Change will become a national organization that will help fund all organizations that work with sexual assault survivors. After witnessing people being denied from safe houses and wait-listed to access a therapist, she strives to provide everyone with the necessary support to recover. She also wants to improve educational awareness for children so they can learn about emotions, consent and relationships. Freifeld recognizes that sexual violence can happen to anyone, and she is working towards creating gender-neutral products for Jewels for Change.
Since graduation, Freifeld’s focus has been on her band, Cake the Bakery, which she formed with Lomayesva. Cake the Bakery will release their five-song EP Dec. 25 on Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud and YouTube. Although Cake the Bakery has been Freifeld’s biggest project as of late, she continues to produce content as a solo artist and a jewelry business, never losing sight of her passions.