Jennifer Fisher’s Soho studio feels more like a boutique than a showroom. It’s probably thanks to her extensive and inviting display cases that houses some of the 4000 charms available in four types of gold, various bangles and cuffs and rings and earrings ranging from girly to gothic. Pretty impressive for a woman that came onto her career by accident and describes herself as ‘the little engine that could.’ The little engine is now among the 10 finalists for the 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Competition.
A California native, Fisher began her career in LA doing wardrobe styling for commercials, television and movies. She was always more into fashion than jewelry, but found herself wanting something special to honor the birth of her first child. Frustrated with what was on offer, she created a dog tag charm with his name on it. You can guess what happened next: friends and colleagues all wanted the cool style of custom charm, and a business was born. Fisher’s business background combined with her resourcefulness proved a success, and six years later Jennifer Fisher jewelery shows no sign of slowing down. We chatted to Fisher, who is as hardworking as she is laidback (very LA-meets-New York), in her glam office to learn more about how she does it.
Fashionista: Tell me about what you were doing before you started the business?
Jennifer Fisher: I was a wardrobe stylist, mostly for commercials and TV. I worked with Aaron Spelling back in the day if you can believe it. I went to USC for business and I studied marketing, and wanted to be at a fashion magazine. I interned at LA Style and Detour, but then I realized I wanted to be more on the fashion side rather than marketing. Internships really are so important for pinpointing what you want to do. Anyway, my friend recommended me for a job as a wardrobe stylist with a big director, and I ended up being really good at it so it became my career.
How did you go from that to designing jewelry?
Shortly after I started dating my now husband, I found a tumor in my chest, so I had to do chemotherapy. I was still styling throughout that time. Once I got through it all we got married. We decided we wanted to have kids, but my oncologist said it wasn’t a good idea since the tumor can grow from estrogen, so she urged us to try a surrogate. We tried for years, but it just didn’t work. Just when we decided to adopt, I became pregnant. I gave birth to Shane naturally and stayed healthy throughout. I really wanted something to wear after he was born, but not something generic, something baddass. As a stylist I was resourceful, so I found someone to make this dog tag charm necklace for me that I still wear on a long, cool chain. Charms then became the core of my business.
I always liked charm necklaces and used to collect them as a child. I remember once deciding as an adult that I wanted some charms, and people told me it was outdated. I remember going to a place and asking to buy all the charms separately to wear on one chain, and they thought I was crazy.
How did it go from one charm to a new career?
People started asking me to make them. I would always wear these slouchy tank tops and the necklace would pop out and people would comment. I was still styling at that time and selling necklaces on the DL. I’ve been in business now since my son’s birth six years ago, but it was always so quiet since I didn’t sell in store. I created a website first thing so I could reach people. We get orders from everywhere. Last night someone in Kuwait bought something. It is so cool to see the reach.
Tell me about some of the early challenges you faced?