Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Jun 09, 2022 05:57 PM

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

Jessica knew early on in her career that she wanted to design, and Jennifer knew during her buying career when she worked with high profile jewelry designers.  At an early age, both designers have been in creative environments offering a foundation to pursue creative careers.


What is your earliest design memory for your brand?

One of the first design memories we have together was in Los Angeles, when we were designing our first collection.  One of the first items we created was our double arrow medallion.  We had taken our double arrow logo and incorporated it into one of our first pieces because of the meaning, which is about friendship and what each person brings to the partnership together. Each arrow has subtle differences, but when combined, they form a synergy.


Where do you find inspiration?

Our life experiences, travel, family, friends, and the environment around us.


What is your favorite part about designing?

It is the process from start to finish. To be able to take an idea in your head and bring it to life is very rewarding.  Then to see it on someone enjoying it is the most fulfilling part of the process.


“Our brand was built on a mission to provide contemporary fine jewelry with sustainability, and social impact at the forefront.”


What are the strengths and weaknesses of owning and designing together?

There really aren’t many weaknesses because both have come from different backgrounds within the same industry.  We have the experience and strength of entrepreneurship, along with corporate, large company concepts, processes, and ideas. Our overall experience between the two of us allow us to fill in gaps where the other person may not be able to, and if it is a weakness of ours, we’re not too proud to ask for help!


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

For over 20 years, Jessica was the Founder and Designer of Jessica Elliot Inc., for her fashion jewelry brand based in Los Angeles, CA. Her line was carried in many major retailers and worn by celebrities. For over 20 years, Jennifer worked at Nordstrom as a designer fine jewelry buyer, including planning, inventory management, training, and development, and owned her own consulting company working with other Jewelry Designers in wholesale, retail, and design.


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

Our brand was built on a mission to provide contemporary fine jewelry with sustainability, and social impact at the forefront.  We have taken a different approach to establishing our brand through our actions and partnerships with our nonprofit organizations vs. the typical wholesaling business model. We have made efforts to manufacture domestically in the US to support our community and eliminate the number of hands and travel our jewelry goes through. We have a special Ying yang design aesthetic because two people with different styles are coming together to create. Elliot Young is not siloed with one vision, and that makes our brand authentic and unique.


What brand values are the most important Elliot Young?

It is important we are known for our authenticity, transparency, and social impact. Our main value at Elliot Young is to give back, and we want to provide everyone a passive and easy way to contribute through our impact program.


What do you envision for the future of your brand?

Our hope is that we become a brand synonymous with quality, value and beautiful product that makes a difference on youth crises through our impact program.  We want to be known for making a difference.


Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed? 

Yes! It is a simple piece, but the meaning and what it represents is everything!  It is our current 14k Diamond Pineapple necklace.  This item is a collaboration between us and Bravo “Top Chef” Brooke Williamson, in partnership to support our partner in ending the childhood hunger crises, NO KID HUNGRY.  On the first day of the launch, we had already sold out.  Just one purchase of this necklace provides approximately 400 meals to hungry children. We’ve reached our goal in just 2 days, so now we are raising our goal to continue to provide more meals to hungry children.  This piece may not be the most intricate design we have done together, but it certainly has transformed into the most meaningful one to date.  We have raised over 4,000 meals already.


“Fashion is a form of self-expression.  We all have our own sense of fashion, and that is what makes us unique.”


What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?

The pandemic!  We started our company in 2019, just before the pandemic.  We had worked so hard to build relationships with nonprofit organizations and were scheduled to attend many in person events with them in the spring of 2020, but they all got canceled.  The core of our business was in jeopardy, and we had to pivot to a little bit more of a typical wholesale/retail business model while we continued to set the foundation for the brand and build it so we could come out of it with the initial intention we wanted.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Be curious. Put the time in to do the research first.  Know what is happening competitively in your category and connect dots to what is happening outside your category and in the world. The more insight you have, the better off you’ll be to build a new line or brand.  It is not just about the design, but product does always come first.


How important is social media to your brand?

Very – in today’s environment, a new brand cannot grow without it.  Obviously, there are many different channels and platforms, so you must find the right recipe for you, but not doing it would limit your reach and voice in a very noisy space.


How would you define fashion?

Fashion is a form of self-expression.  We all have our own sense of fashion, and that is what makes us unique.