The only obstacle is managing growth. Since I have a business background, I always feel that it is so important to have a strong foundation. I want to make sure the infrastructure is there, and since you are dealing with fine jewelry we must keep track of what is happening with the gold market, weights and measures. And, of course, I need to have time to design too.
How did you build the business?
Honestly, I was really working by myself at the start. I used to have a tiny office on Prince Street, and when I’d leave town I would forward my business calls to my cell phone. I started in my bedroom with a laptop and a couple charms. It really is my own sweat, blood and tears. Every day is challenging. If you try to do the right thing and be a good person, you are rewarded for that. I really try to enjoy every aspect of it, and not to grow to fast. It is important that the stability of the business is there.
When did you expand from charms to the huge selection you now offer?
It’s always been about the charms, and people ask for them. We can’t really take any of them away because at some point, somebody will want it. The other day we sold a charm that nobody had bought in ages.
Have you always had a thing for jewelry?
No. I always liked clothes. Since I was little, I was obsessed with clothes, not jewelry. When I was young my mom got me a Vogue subscription, and I ended up creating wallpaper in my bedroom. It was sort of my first mood board. When we sold house, the buyers actually wanted to keep the Vogue wall. I’ve always been resourceful with clothes too, if I can’t find something I make it.
Where do you draw inspiration?
My mood board doesn’t even make sense. I just pull things that are cool and interesting from magazines and websites. I don’t produce in seasons, except for the brass pieces. Stores aren’t buying entire collections, they want little capsule ranges and then they refresh with other pieces. They don’t want the risk of buying too much. I think jewelry isn’t about trends, so why design for specific seasons? I really don’t want to be a trend-based designer.
What are the most popular pieces?
From the brass line, people are loving the skulls, bones and nails. And from the fine line, people love the tags and lettering. People love to put their child’s whole name or weird dates or some phrase. It is all very personal. It is neat to see people wanting to buy my jewelry to represent important things to them.
Have you ever had any really weird requests?
I think we made a frog charm for someone’s frog that died. We have had a lot of crazy stuff. Lots of Latin phrases and poems. I don’t find them weird though. Once a guy wanted his German Shepherd’s head as a charm. So he sent a picture, and we designed it and it actually looked just like his dog. I won’t do just anything, no ice cream cones or anything, but we try to do whatever people want.
Do you follow fashion? What do you wear?
I have always done my own thing. I used to be really into Rick Owens until people started ripping him off, now I’m loving Margiela and Phillip Lim. I am always changing. The other day I bought APC jeans that are awesome. Last year it was Alexander Wang tanks, and now it’s not. I really jump around, and mix high end and cheap, which is the stylist in me I guess.
Tell me about getting involved with CFDA?
Oh my God, it has been a dream. I always thought I was too small and not ready. Last year we wanted to do it, but we missed the chance because we were so busy. So you have to apply, and see if they are even interested in you. I made it through the first two rounds and then I had to present a huge portfolio. You really put yourself out there. To make it to the top 10 is amazing; I feel like I’ve won already.
Honestly, I haven’t had one. I still feel like the little engine that could. The CFDA is a big deal, so that is amazing. But I appreciate everything that comes and appreciate what comes to me. Just having a successful business is so rewarding.
Any exciting plans for your company?
We definitely want to open a store. Our collections are so large, so it would work well in a retail space. Also, the web is where everything is, so that is important. We are going to be redoing our site over the next year. I really want to revolutionize how people shop for fine jewelry. People get nervous because it can be so expensive, but I think if you hit all those price points then people can feel comfortable.