Former model Michelle Campbell Mason is the designer behind CAMPBELL, a jewelry line inspired by the relationship between nature and the urban landscape. CAMPBELL collections feature contemporary yet timeless pieces that have piqued the interests of Vogue, Elle, W Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
What has been the most exciting part of launching a jewelry collection in an era of Pamela Love and Eddie Bongo?
No matter when one decides to launch your product, you know you will come against some competition. My intentions always have been to stick to my personal tastes and maintain a classic modernist aesthetic. Everything I do has influences from modern architecture. So I feel like my pieces are very different from, but complement designers like Pamela and Eddie.
Do you see them as contemporaries or competitors?
Being that I currently don’t have the same wide distribution as these lines, it’s hard to say that I am just like them- however I would definitely consider them contemporaries and not competitors. Our field is artistic in a way that can complement each other, but at the end of the day our products are massively different.
What do you think makes your collection stand apart from others?
People really respond to the clean lines of the pieces. Campbell is made to be a long-term purchase, not a seasonal trend. So I always have that in mind when I am designing, and I think the editors agree that is definitely our strong point.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was acting and modeling my entire youth and after college (I studied Sociology and theatre at UCLA), I decided to start a business that could be my touchstone while working in industries that are so unpredictable. I have always had a preternatural love for jewelry and started sketching one day, then wrote a business plan. It all played out from there.
Did you study jewelry design or work for jewelry brands before going out on your own?
I didn’t formally study. I inherited some amazing pieces from my grandmother, which pushed me to create something beautiful to go with it. I have studied and learned the trade on my own, which has been an undertaking. Although, modeling did teach me a great deal about the wholesale model, so I was aware as to how the business had to run.
Which piece that you inherited from your grandmother is your favorite?
It is her engagement ring–a rose gold band with asscher cut yellow diamond. It’s such a different setting with amazing little details on the brackets and the band has these great lines that run throughout it.
What made you decide to launch your own e-shop right from the get go?
The e-commerce site didn’t go up until about six months into our launch. I figured we should be able to merchandise and advertise our product the way we best saw fit until a retailer of ours pushed us to let them have the online exclusive. Until this happens, we will maintain our own shop!
Do you find any resistance from shoppers purchasing some of the higher priced items, like the big knot ring for $16,800?
In all honesty, if someone is looking for a fine piece, there is very little resistance. We work very closely with anyone who is making a large purchase, so they know a great deal about the construction and diamonds of the piece they are getting upon purchase. Since we are a relatively small company, it helps me to be more involved with these transactions.
How do you bridge your price points? Is it hard to find your niche with customers that are looking to buy a brand rather than a price point and may not realize they have lots of options from your collection?
The reason I keep the fine and lower priced pieces together is due to the fact that we, as the consumer, don’t just wear one kind of jewelry when we get dressed. For example, I will wear two pave white gold rings, and then two silver or rose gold plated pieces. No woman usually wears exclusively one or the other, no matter how large her budget is. I created these pieces to complement each other and have a great day to night transition. The people who get it seem to completely agree. I don’t think I will ever be the brand someone goes to to get their identifiable name brand piece–I am your girl when you want an awesome black diamond ring that looks like nothing else in the marketplace.
What’s in store for the next collection? How do you see the line evolving?
For Fall 13 we have introduced a lot of chain necklaces, continued our “floating” aesthetic and have integrated some different stones from black to champagne diamonds. We are maintaining our stacking element and adding a great deal of stacking options for all over your body. Fall is definitely our most well rounded collection yet!