I can be intimidated by really cool women; and going into this interview with Love Adorned founder, Lori Leven, was, to say the least, intimidating. But, she’s so cool I loosened up quickly and embraced the opportunity to get to know the owner of one of the leading fine jewelry, antique jewelry, one-of-a-kind shops for jewelry in New York City. Not only does she run this eclectic shop (and also one in Amagansett and Santa Monica), but she has owned New York Adorned, the tattoo shop in the East Village, for 20 years. She’s busy, but she has a clear vision, a team of 30 to execute her ideas, and devoted designers, customers, and clients who can’t wait to see what she does next.
How would you describe your personal style?
Dirtbag chic – Good jewelry and good sunglasses get you far.
When did you get your first tattoo?
I got my first tattoo on our senior class trip to Boca Raton, Florida. A butterfly on my hip that I copied off a woman I saw walking down the beach at Long Beach Island when I was 14.
Was entrepreneurship an intended career path for you?
I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t feel like being in someone’s dream would fulfill me.
How did you navigate tattooing in NYC before it became legal in the late 1990’s? Did you ever fear the consequences?
No, not really. There were worse things happening in that neighborhood at that time. We would tattoo the police and the Hells Angels for free.
How has the creative landscape of New York changed since opening your first store?
It’s changed monumentally. We opened before the internet. Copying people was much more labor intensive, and honestly, less appealing to people.
The collection at Love Adorned is so, for lack of a better word, cool. What goes into the buying and curating process?
I think the trick is looking for inspiration outside of your own genre. If you open yourself up to unusual influences, ideas form more broadly.
What’s the most challenging part about running multiple stores?
Keeping employees on track.
Where are you going on your next big adventure?
Italy, next week! I’m excited to be going back to the motherland.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
Genuinely impacting my clients.
Who are a couple of your favorite up and coming jewelry designers?
Taline Arslanian of Neptune Jewels, Katherine Bowman from Melbourne and Fraser Hamilton from London. Established jewelers: James de Ginenchy of Taffin, Solange Azagury Partridge, Judy Geib and forever Cartier.
Do you have any more plans for expansion?
Yes, we’re opening a guest-only tattoo/piercing/art studio upstairs in our Santa Monica location, and we have exciting plans to open a little jewel box inside a premier retail shopping destination in West Hollywood in the Fall with a great group of other vendors – It’s going to be great!