Katie Diamond Jewelry

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Growing up—long before she married into a family of jewelers with the last name Diamond (yes, for real!)—Katie knew she had a knack for design. “When I was little, my favorite thing to do was make clothes for my sister,” she says. “Even before I knew how to sew, I would make things out of paper and tape them onto her.”

After graduating from FIT with a degree in fashion merchandising management, Katie decided to try her hand at the jewelry industry, studying under goldsmith Cecilia Bauer in 2001. A year later, with the basics under her belt and a ring on her finger, Katie, officially a Diamond, took the opportunity to learn the family biz from the inside. “I had access to these people who’ve been working in the business for years and years and were willing to help me learn,” she says.

Her husband sold his family’s nearly 40-year-old company a few years later, and, hard as it was, the timing was kind of perfect: Katie was now poised to carry on the tradition. She took her experience, built out her collection of dainty-yet-edgy pieces (a vibe she likes to call “wearable punk”), and launched Katie Diamond Jewelry in 2008. And she hasn’t looked back. –olivia seely

katiediamondjewelry.com

 

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Primecut

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Though Lizzie Falkenstein launched her pared-down accessories line in December 2013, she’s hardly a newbie: She started her first line, dubbed Lizbags, in the summer of 2008, while still in college studying architecture at University of Oregon. “At the time, I had just purchased a heavy-duty industrial sewing machine. I stumbled upon a beautiful scrap of cowhide on my first shopping trip for leather supplies and ended up making a bag for myself that I have used every day for the last two years,” says the Portland-based maker, who still puts her degree to use designing retail environments part-time.

Lizbags gave way to Primecuts when Lizzie herself felt that she had outgrown the line’s aesthetic and made a move toward something more minimalist. “My bags are purposefully simple to showcase the unique quality of the material,” she explains. And, boy, do those cowhides, sourced from the U.S., Brazil, and Europe, shine: Each clutch, wallet, cross-body bag, and pouch that Lizzie makes by-hand from her basement studio is different—and stand-out—thanks to the crazy-beautiful colors and textures of its main ingredient. “Living in Portland makes you appreciate natural forms and materials,” she notes. “So many things today are highly processed and disconnected from their origins. There’s a lot of natural beauty here that I try to translate in my designs.” —alisha prakash

primecutbags.com

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Lissy Verkade

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When it comes to change, Natasha Chambers doesn’t embrace it so much as she gives it a bear hug. Take this: She and her husband, Oliver Clegg, fell in love with NYC during a trip and decided, then and there, to make it their new home. “We moved from Cornwall, England, to New York City without knowing anyone really,” she says. And then, right on the heels of that big development in 2012, she decided to launch an accessories line Lissy Verkade, named after her Dutch mother.

In her previous life, Natasha worked as a model and then an artist, creating a series of prints influenced by her life in a small fishing village. Her fresh start felt like a killer opportunity to switch up her medium—to move away from pieces that hang on walls to ones that hang from necks.

So she took her multimedia illustrations and used them in a new context—colorful scarves, wraps, and beach cover-ups with strong ties to nature and her travels, including the six-month-long, life-changing adventure through India that Natasha took at 18. “I don’t like when things are supposed to be out-of-fashion or when clothing is called ‘last year.’ I like the idea of staple pieces,” she explains. And sometimes those come from totally unexpected places: “Very often it’s the mistakes or the things I didn’t expect that turn out the best.” —jane gauger

lissyverkade.com

 

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Carolyn A’Hearn

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When Carolyn A’Hearn first tried out jewelry-making while studying graphic design at the University of Iowa, she turned up her nose. “I just didn’t really like it,” she says, “I thought, ‘Welp, this definitely isn’t for me.’”

Fast-forward a few years, and this same woman is crafting ultra-sleek pendants and nearly futuristic earrings—and loving every minute of it. “I don’t really know what changed,” she says. “But a few years ago, I bought myself a jewelry class for my birthday.” Soon enough, she was apprenticing with Caroline Glemann of Liloveve Jewelry and was working on her debut collection, which sought to capture what archaeologists ages from now might find from excavations of the early 21st century. (Yeah, you read right.)

These days, Carolyn, who went official with her namesake line in 2013, can hardly walk down the street without some aggressively elegant shape or intersecting plane catching her attention. “When I get an idea for a design in my head, I draw it right away. My mind is pretty much always aligning and fitting things together in pleasant asymmetries and nice little arrangements,” she explains. In this way, her illustration education comes to the forefront. “I feel like the jewelry has been a very natural transition from two-dimensional work into 3D pieces!” Bet college-age Carolyn could get down with that. —jane-claire quigley

carolynahearn.com

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Pigeon Toe

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Upon learning to draw a horse in first grade, Lisa Jones knew she had a thing for art. And by fourth grade, she’d already mastered wheel-throwing. But that doesn’t mean she committed fully to pottery then and there. “I’ve always been a dabbler, and I used to think it was a drawback as a designer,” she says. “But looking back, it’s more like an advantage.”

It wasn’t until, after moving from Spokane, Washington, to Portland, Oregon, for art school and a career in graphic design and marketing, that she realized she wanted to spend her day in clay. “I felt really disconnected from my hands. So I rented a space to throw pots and realized I had created a body of work that felt like a cohesive collection,” she explains of the way that—surprise!—her line Pigeon Toe was born.

And, hey, the timing was right: Lisa felt a real need for handmade, everyday ceramics that were accessibly priced and thoughtfully designed. “I am a minimalist at heart and am not about following trends. I want my designs to be quiet and fully integrated into your life—but the utility needs to be balanced with beauty. There also needs to be a sense of humor in the work,” she says of the line, which went official in 2009.

The funny thing is that Pigeon Toe’s success has allowed Lisa to go back to her dabbling ways—“I think of all this as continuous study,” she says—and she now also makes lighting fixtures, jewelry, and even baskets. That’s right—she’s weaving it all together in a way that feels completely her. —jane gauger

pigeontoeceramics.com

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t.kahres jewelry

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During Teresa Kahres’s early years in NYC, she shuttled between the East Village, where she worked at a restaurant, and her home turf, Long Island. There, she’d hole up with a torch in her mom’s basement, crafting necklaces and rings. Through a friend, Teresa, who had studied jewelry design in college (including a semester-long stint in Italy), met fellow up-and-comer Lauren Wolf, and when Lauren asked her new pal to go in on a cheap studio space in Brooklyn’s Dumbo, Teresa happily agreed. “I thought, ‘I can have my hobby without going to Long Island,’” she says. “I worked at a teeny bookshelf, but it didn’t matter—I was just doing it for fun.” Well, that’s what she thought at the time.

Pretty soon, customers came calling, and after selling her work—which is inspired largely by natural forms such as shells, leaves, and ice—at the Grand Central Holiday Fair in 2011, she went legit. Was it scary quitting her two other gigs to pursue her line full-time? Most definitely. But over time, it also just felt so right. “It’s like, this is going to work—this is my business,” she explains of her ever-growing confidence. “No matter how many times people tell you that, you have to find it in yourself.” —meghana gandhi

tkahresjewelry.com

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The Palatines

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It’s fair to say Jessica Taft Langdon has always had a thing for shoes. Take, for instance, that time in kindergarten when she came home from the zoo psyched to tell her mom not about the giraffes, monkeys, or penguins but about all the awesome sneakers she saw. “I really love how much your life is shown off in the wear of your shoes,” Jessica explains. “I love the fact that they’re your shell, your protection against the world.”

It wasn’t until 2001 that Jessica went legit with her footwear fetish, enrolling in a post-graduate accessories program at NYU and then studying at Milan’s Ars Sutoria, an institute focused on the technical aspects of shoemaking. After stints at Coach, Catherine Malandrino, Franco Sarto, Proenza Schouler, and Alexander Wang (whoa, right?!), Jessica headed to L.A.—her husband works in the entertainment biz—and almost instantly met a collaborator, Bryan Sanderson of the globally minded shop Weltenbuerger.

The duo worked on two collections together—which gave Jessica the nerve, in 2014, to strike out on her own and launch The Palatines, a line of slick, ladylike slide sandals, booties, and slingbacks. “The whole thing has been a total dream,” she says. “It’s been fun and scary and exciting and tons more work than I expected. It’s been fantastic.” —olivia seely

thepalatinesshoes.com

 

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Krysos + Chandi

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Growing up in India, Avneet Basi was always surrounded by pattern, color, and jewelry. “India is adornment times a hundred!” she says. “My mother has a sick collection of yellow-gold jewelry—you don’t really see that kind of quality nowadays.” Milestones in her life were also marked by gifts of jewelry, and even though she had always painted and illustrated, when it came time to get serious about something creative, well, as she says, “I never even considered anything else.”

After graduating from a metalsmithing program at FIT, Avneet worked for a mass-market accessory company for half a decade before striking out on her own to make the kind of rings and necklaces she had always wanted to create—“the forever kind.” She launched Krysos + Chandi, named for the Greek god of gold and the Hindi word for silver, in late 2013, marrying burnished metal and geometric shapes with brightly colored yarn and a tassel or two. “These are really heirloom pieces,” she adds. “I want them to be the pieces that people remember where and why they bought them.” —genevieve ang

krysosandchandi.com

 

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Out Of Office

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Get ready to feel real jealous: Diana Frame and Kapono Chung have figured out how to live the life. This clever duo (and couple!) has fused their love for traveling to colorful locales—think Johannesburg and Curaçao—with their knack for creating cheery, vacation-ready accessories like leopard-print totes, op-art beach towels, and dope leather caps.

Diana and Kapono, a producer and designer respectively, met at the office—they were both working at the super-stylish ad agency Mother—and pretty quickly decided they were meant for life outside the conference room. After nixing their original career-change idea, a food truck, because it would tether the wanderlust-y couple to Manhattan, the pair started playing with patterns and Japanese denim and came up with their oh-so-appropriately named line, Out Of Office. “It’s about being in a place where you love to be and making stuff,” Kapono explains. “We get stuck in a little bit of tunnel vision here in New York because it’s so crazy and so fast. But we realized that there are these other pockets all over the place where there are these crazy-creative things happening,” Diana adds. “I think Out Of Office is a way to explore and laud the movements in Rio, Tokyo, South Africa, and even more off-the-beaten-path places.”

So there’s a little inspiration to keep in mind the next time you’re fantasizing about quitting that day job. —jane-claire quigley

outofofficenyc.com

 

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Thing Industries

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It all started with a chair. In 2008, Bridie Picot tried (unsuccessfully!) to buy one of Matt Smith’s sacrificial chair prototypes at a furniture fair. A few years later, when she decided to start her own furniture line, she looked him up, and the pair launched a collaboration that spans seven time zones and 9,000 miles: She’s based in NYC, and he’s in New Zealand—where she grew up. “We send a lot of emails,” Bridie laughs.

If a continental divide seems like a bit of a deterrent, you don’t know Bridie and her endearing—and enduring—sense of possibility. Heck, before launching Thing Industries in 2013, she’d never designed furniture before, but frustrated with the limited market for affordable, cool-looking finds, she got to sketching.

“I like simple pieces that solve a problem,” Bridie explains. “But just because it’s functional doesn’t mean it can’t have a sense of humor.” Take, for instance, that first chair…that actually isn’t a chair at all. It’s a place to toss clothes and bags—which is probably something you already do with some of your seating. There’s also a birdhouse-shaped shelf that bookmarks a paperback just so and a set of triangular tables that can be arranged this and that way. So what’s next? “More! I think I’ve got about twelve more collections just in my head,” Bridie adds. “So we’ve got to get those out.”—alex ronan

thingindustries.com

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