When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
That is such a great question. When I was little, about 1st or 2nd grade, I thought I wanted to be a nun. Bear with me. During my religion class, a wonderful nun named Sister Benedicta would draw the bible stories - elaborate scenes on the chalkboard…and I was mesmerized. I kept telling everyone I wanted to be a nun, but really, I wanted to be an artist. So, from a very early age, I knew art and illustration were a part of my future, and that developed into designing.
What is your earliest design memory for your brand?
I always knew I wanted to do jewelry, but it took me a little bit to come up with the coin concept. The classic Romani nomad was an inspiration to me with her coin jewelry layers. When I started researching how they would turn money into jewelry to ‘show’ their wealth, I came up with the concept of showing wealth through life experiences – and coins marking milestone moments. It all happened very quickly actually, but while taking a hike with my sister-in-law, she talked about wanting to give her aunt a present who had lost her husband, and the actual coins and their meanings began to take shape. Yes, for moments of joy and hope, but also for moments of sadness and remembering.
“We create coin jewelry – designs on both sides of the coin, and there is a genuine meaning behind each piece.”
Where do you find inspiration?
We now have a design ‘team’ of sorts. One designer helps me with design, development, and production. We really like to dream – lots of museum visits, lots of long walks – nature is a big influence…and not the perfect side of things. We always laugh that we love weeds, flowers that pop up where they aren’t supposed to, clovers and dandelions, and Queen Anne’s lace. The actual stones and gems we use are also a great influence. We look at so many gems and turn them into pieces or details on a gold piece…it’s like they want to become something!
What is your favorite part about designing?
I like dreaming the most and getting it down as a sketch. I am more of an illustrator, but Rachel, my co-worker, is really an artist and brings the pieces to life. I come bounding into the office with ideas and concepts (that quite frankly she thinks are tangents) with small illustrations and pictures. The time when you let your mind wander and explore the concepts for a collection is my favorite.
What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?
I have had a wonderful career in fashion. I started in production for an apparel brand – so learning how to ‘make’ things in a factory. I then saw this gal reading magazines all the time and when I asked what she did – PR – I decided I wanted to do that. So, I zipped over to Calvin Klein Cosmetics in PR and Marketing and then Barney’s New York for the same sector. It was a fabulous experience. In the late 90s, I started my first company called Buzz by Jane Fox, which was handbags. I had that company for seven years, it was sold in Barney’s…and then one day Lilly Pulitzer called and asked me to launch accessories for them, and it was the best decision I ever made. I moved from NYC to Main Line, PA, and ended up working for Lilly for 12 years. I started as an accessory designer, became the head of print and then fashion director, and eventually hopped back over to Marketing as Senior Vice President of Marketing. It was a lesson in business that I needed to start Jane Win!
“We make beautiful things that embody strength and positivity. We want you to be proud to wear and gift a Jane Win coin.”
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
I love this question because we are absolutely determined to do our own thing and be ourselves. We create coin jewelry – designs on both sides of the coin, and there is a genuine meaning behind each piece. The wearer relates and treasures the item, and she wants to collect more. I think what sets us apart is that we don’t really care what is going on around us (I mean that in the nicest way). We are going to do what we love. We want to connect with our customers. We are not too fancy or in any way exclusive – we are down to earth, we love to laugh, and we have fun.
What brand values are the most important for Jane Win Jewelry?
Our Core Values are something I wrote first when we launched the company. I must list them for you because I love them all equally!
What do you envision for the future of your brand?
We are only 4 years old and have so many more customers to get to know. We are still young. For the short term, I am very happy to concentrate on telling our story and introducing new people to Jane Win. One of the ways we do this is through collaborations…we just launched a small collection that we did exclusively for Kirna Zabete. I think more of those collaborations are in our future…and I would absolutely love to have our own pop-up store in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Palm Beach. That’s a real dream!
Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?
I mean, can I even choose just one? I would say our classic Original Pendant Coin is my favorite and I choose a word each day that I am relating to. I always have on our Peace Pendant Coin which I designed to remember someone or something you have lost, and for me, that is my dad. And just because I can’t choose, I also pile myself with hearts every day…my favorite right now is the Carry Your Heart Pendant in Mother of Pearl.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?
We hit roadblocks every day, and it can be discouraging. I say all the time that being an entrepreneur is a mind game. It takes so much mental strength to get told no, to fail right out in the open…and to do it over, a lot. I went from being at a large corporate company that paid my salary - I managed a large department and was surrounded by fabulous women every day - to working at home alone, building my little dream. I had my husband, and he is an amazing team member but – it was lonely. And then we just got things going; we moved the company from my house to an office/showroom, and COVID-19 hit. I thought we would have to close the office – but as DTC online grew, our business doubled. But then our factories closed! It is all an incredible ride, the good and the challenging. I feel so lucky for the tough challenges because it absolutely makes me who I am now.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?
Write down your core values and spend time on a business plan. No excuses, you need the building blocks for a company that will last. You need a roadmap!
How important is social media to your brand?
It’s everything. Not only does it bring new customers in, but it also keeps us connected with everyone who loves Jane Win. I love working on it, I love posting and making stories – it is a form of self-expression for me.
How would you define fashion?
Allowing yourself to be who you are, with flair. Layers of gold jewelry always help.