Jennie Kwon is an LA-based jewelry designer. Kwon is a former corporate lawyer and is a classically trained violinist, when she gave birth to twins a few years ago she decided to re-evaluate her career track and pursue something she was more passionate about. Jennie Kwon Designs was born out of this transition. Her minimalistic designs are currently available at Catbird and American Two Shot in NYC.
Where are you from? What was your first fashion memory?
Born and bred in Los Angeles. Aside from very early dress up sessions with my older sister while sifting through my mom’s closet and putting on fashion shows for ourselves, I remember running to the mall the first time my mom gave me money to pick something out for myself. The pair of Z Cavariccis I bought gave me a ridiculous amount of joy and became the first real staple in my wardrobe. Ah, the 90s.
You’re a former practicing lawyer – what led you to quitting and launching your own jewelry collection? Do you ever miss law?
I actually come from a pretty creative background. I was a classically trained violinist for most of my life, and had a pretty strong desire to return to something creative while I was practicing law. Working on mergers and acquisitions contracts until the wee hours of the morning wasn’t quite doing it for me anymore. After going in-house to a big movie studio for a few years, I had my twins which was the perfect break to re-evaluate the course of my life and what I wanted to see myself doing for the next several years of this short life. I took a course in metal-smithing at a local arts center and it resonated with me. From there, it was sort of a now or never situation. Take the leap of faith and launch or stay an attorney for the unforeseeable future. I decided to jump.
Did you attend design school or are you self-taught?
I’m self-taught. There’s definitely a learning curve in figuring out what actually works when worn as jewelry and what’s better just staying in your head as a cool idea, but it’s one of those things where you know pretty early on if you have a knack for design or not.
Can you describe the most challenging part of launching a new business in an industry you’re not familiar?
Everything is the first time when you’re venturing into unknown territory without any connections or a preexisting network. Coming from a very academic, corporate community, I’ve had to learn a lot of things quickly that I was completely unfamiliar with before: where to source stones, materials, how to set up an online shop, how to take product photography, how to use Photoshop, etc. So at times I feel like somewhat of a lone ranger in this venture, but slowly, I’m starting to get to know more creatives in the community to talk shop with and bounce ideas off of each other with.
When you first started – was it tough to get noticed designing pieces that are sort of anti-statement?
I’ve been very fortunate in that the line sort of grew organically from the get go. My first bit of exposure was within a month after launch by one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, Unruly Things, and Daily Candy came next, and through that, one thing led to another.
What’s the jewelry design community like in LA?
Very prolific.I think it’s amazing how many amazing and diverse jewelry designers one city can claim. Just going to the jewelry district every week, you see the hustling and bustling that’s going on, with people working hard to make their creations come to life. Very inspiring.
How do you keep the price point so reasonable for fine jewelry?
I price strictly based on my costs and don’t inflate prices unnecessarily. Because I design my pieces to be wearable on a daily basis, I want them to be accessible to those who want to wear them, and not just a pipe dream or some sort of untouchable piece of art to ogle at.
Tell us about the inspiration for your Fall 2014 collection – how is it different from previous seasons?
While still keeping things consistent with the clean lines and architectural shapes of my aesthetic, I wanted to challenge myself and my customers a bit, by incorporating a few new concepts such as streamlined ear cuffs and chokers, larger stones and more substantial pieces into the line.
What three pieces of jewelry should every woman have in her lineup?
Couldn’t possibly narrow it down to 3! But definitely something with diamonds. Diamonds are definitely a must.
How do your collections reflect your personal style and LA lifestyle?
My personal style is understated and non-fussy or overly coiffed, yet I like to incorporate at least one thing that makes me feel subtly unique every day. Something I love. I think my jewelry reflects this same sort of effortless aesthetic, while still catching the eye of people because of something that makes that particular piece interesting. Nothing that’s in your face, but interesting because of its detail upon taking a closer look.