The Jewel Box

Designer Spotlight


Q:

  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background

A:

  I live in Vancouver with my husband and my dog Luca. I work a lot, and try to travel as much as I can- even though it's most-often business related. Most days you'll find me at our studio in Gastown. I'm very hands-on with all aspects of my business, from designing to sales to marketing… it never stops!

Q:

  Have you always wanted to design jewelry, or was there an alternative career path you wanted to take?

A:

  I was making jewelry long before I considered it as a career path… I've had a lot of jobs in my day… As for career path, I used to want to be a marine biologist, and then I went to school for Fashion and saw myself working at a magazine. I developed a healthy obsession with large turquoise stones and went on a mission to source them to make a necklace and it started from there.

Q:

  Can you walk us through a bit of your design process for a new jewellery collection and how you decide on the names for individual styles?

A:

  I usually have some color inspiration with specific gems in mind to start. I love hiving piles of gems on my desk so that I can play around with combinations of stone shapes and colors. It's so much easier for us to have a name for each piece rather than a numbered sku. Sometimes a new design will just scream it's new name, and other times it will be random. I studied French and Spanish so I love looking at other languages for inspiration as well.

Q:

  As a layering connoisseur what advice would you give to someone trying to achieve the perfect look?

A:

  Have some every day staples and then add things into the rotation. For example currently I always have a few Sydney cuffs on in gold and rose gold, and then I'll add a Social and/or Liberty bracelets. I love that layered mix of all-gold pieces with all-gemstone pieces. I wear the Sydney choker every day, and then layer down from there. A lot of our necklaces are different lengths intended to be layered with each other.

Q:

  You have a distinct aesthetic when it comes to your jewellery design, photography and styling…where do you source inspiration from?

A:

  I get a lot of inspiration from the gemstones themselves, and when I travel to source the gems. Without sounding too kooky I like to think they "speak to me" haha, like "make this with me!!" I've been working on my photography for as long as I've had my business- I do my own product shots and the majority of my social media images. I love browsing Pinterest and Tumblr for photo inspiration, and I'm always striving to improve my photo skills, I really enjoy it!

Q:

  If you had a one way ticket to anywhere, where would it be?

A:

  I feel like going somewhere that has not only beautiful beaches and water- but also culture and amazing food. I'd say Vietnam fits that ticket! If I was able to take a month off I would go now…

Q:

  Which famous person would you absolutely fan-girl if you saw them wearing one of your pieces?

A:

  Queen Bey

Q:

  Describe an ideal weekend in Vancouver, what are your favourite spots to shop, eat & explore?

A:

  My weekends seem to revolve around eating… Farmer's Apprentice and Ask For Luigi are my favourites for going out for brunch. I also love having the time at home on a Sunday morning to make something tasty- my go-to recipe is Ina Garten's herbed baked eggs- look it up online! You can often find me at the Farmer's Market or shopping at Hills Dry Goods on 4th! We got paddle boards this summer so we spent a lot of weekend time out on the ocean. For dinner I love Cuchillo, Nuba, Ahn+Chi, Nook, or one of Vancouver's many sushi spots! Burgoo is great for cold rainy nights.

Q:

  We’ve heard that you were once a Blue Ruby Gem…what store did you work at?

A:

  I sure was! I worked at the Robson Street location. The experience I gained there was very useful to several aspects in my business now, for example observing and understanding the thought process when a customer is purchasing jewelry for themselves or for a gift. It helped my jewellery merchandising skills as well which I use all the time¬!

Q:

  Seeing a successful, female entrepreneur is inspiring! What are some tips you can offer to someone who is starting their own business?

A:

  Be obsessed and be prepared to be consumed by it for a while- but it shouldn’t feel like as much work as it really is when you're passionate about what you're building! Seek out a mentor with applicable experience. Identify your own weaknesses so you can seek help for those areas.

Designer Spotlight




Q:

  You pull inspiration from across the globe for your jewellery. What countries/cultures are you most inspired by currently?

A:

  Not one specific country or culture influences me. I pick up inspiration wherever I go, whether it is a 12 hour flight away, or a walk down the street. Seeing a beautiful flower could become the motif for a new collection. I recently went to a folk art market in Santa Fe where artisans from over 150 countries came to showcase their work. I was so inspired by the variety of work and craftsmanship happening around the world.

Q:

  You’re originally from Vietnam, how has it influenced you as a designer/entrepreneur?

A:

  Growing up, my family had a few businesses, so at an early age I had a great business sense. I was also surrounded by many artisans in Vietnam. The combination of being comfortable with both business and the arts really helped me become an ambitious and successful designer.

Q:

  Do you have a favourite piece in your personal collection?

A:

  My 1st silver wrap bracelet on brown leather – it’s classic!

Q:

  What jewellery item would you say is essential for festival season?

A:

  Definitely stacking lots of single wraps in bright colours. Turquoise is usually the most popular colour for festival season. For necklaces, I would say a leather lariat or fringe necklace.

Q:

  How did your signature wrap bracelet design come to be?

A:

  The wrap bracelet was a style I really believed in! It is so versatile and perfect for anyone from the age of 8 - 88. Once the trend started to catch on, many celebrities and models like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Bar Refaeli had the bracelets wrapped around their wrists.

Q:

  What tips can you share for layering the perfect “arm party”?

A:

  For me, the perfect “arm party” is a mix of textures and materials. I love picking up friendship bracelets from craft markets from around the world and mixing them with a wrap bracelet. Then I have my staple diamond bracelets that I never take off. A mix of fine, contemporary and bright friendship bracelets would be the perfect “arm party” for me.

Q:

  What jewellery trend(s) are you most excited about for FW15?

A:

  I love designing with organic shaped pearls, metal and charms by mixing them in a cool, edgy way.

Q:

  And lastly, what is your greatest indulgence?

A:

  Steak frites!

Designer Spotlight


Q:

  What made you decide to get into jewellery design?

A:

  I have always been interested in fashion. I actually went to college for Fashion Merchandising but fell in love with jewelry while working for a stylist. I took some metalsmithing courses and here I am.

Q:

  Where do you source your inspiration from?

A:

  I find this the most difficult question to answer. Of course a lot of my inspiration comes from travels but also just the world around me. Honestly it's not so much a place or thing but a feeling. The moment strikes and I usually have a sketch pad with me; I get it down right away. I do some of my best design work trying to fall asleep at night.

Q:

  When you’re not designing jewellery, how do you like to spend your time?

A:

  My husband and I have two kids so I spend most of my free time with them. My son plays ALOT of sports so all weekend I am on the go. I can't even imagine what free time will look like when our daughter starts getting into different activities. If I do get a free moment I love to explore the city, discovering new restaurants, boutiques etc.

Q:

  What do you love most about living in Vancouver?

A:

  I love everything about this city… Well except maybe the housing cost. I have lived all over North America and when we had the choice to pick a city to settle down in there was no question it was Vancouver. Everything you could want in a city is all here. I love that we have a vibrant downtown but in 15 minutes you can be in nature. The city is big enough to inspire but not so big that you feel alone or lost. There are so many inspiring entrepreneurs and down to earth friendly people.

Q:

  What do you value the most about being a Canadian designer?

A:

  I love how our Canadian boutiques really support us and in turn we value them so much. It's hard as a Canadian designer to have the larger department stores in Canada support and believe in you until you first "make it" in the US. This isn't the case with our boutique stores like Blue Ruby and other independent stores. Those relationships are so amazing because they believe in the brand and that's very special to me.

Q:

  How would you describe your personal jewellery style?

A:

  I tend to stick to delicate layering. I'm not a big statement jewelry kind of girl. That being said, I do enjoy piling on lots of delicate layers to create my own look. That's the basis of our line, it gives women the option to go classic with a few key pieces or to really create their own vibe through mixing it all up. Our jewelry is meant to take on the DNA of its wearer so that no two women wear their jewels the same way. It's about individuality.

Q:

  What is one of the most rewarding experiences you have had throughout your career?

A:

  Waking up and getting to do what I love every day is the most rewarding experience. Being able to spend my life and make a living doing what I love. Who could ask for more?

Q:

  If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go & what would you do?

A:

  I have been dying to go to Australia. The fashion scene there is right up my alley, they have so many amazing designers making a splash right now. Throw in the beaches and the cities to explore and I would be in heaven. Family road trip between cities, yep, I can't imagine a better vacation.