One of the nicest aspects of social media is the sense of constant discovery that comes with it, and nowhere is that more true than in fashion, where the coolest new brands seem to be popping up every day. As editors, we're always getting lost in fashionable feeds and returning to reality with both a boost of inspiration and a host of brands we want to check out further.
Such was the case with me and Androgyny jewelry, which is designed by Courtney Bensik in Los Angeles using the ancient method of lost wax. After being seduced by Instagram snapshots of her collection, which somehow managed to look both delicate and strong at the same time, I asked Bensik to send me her favorite pieces, and the real things did not disappoint. The gems were even better up close: eye-catching without being flashy, durable without being heavy, and totally versatile.
The craziest part is that Bensik has no formal training! She simply acted on her creative urge, which is a move that we at Who What Wear always admire in people. So, curious to know more about her story, I spoke to the designer about everything from how the line got it’s name to why she considers The Row one of her main sources of inspiration.
Scroll down to find out what the soon-to-be-huge jewelry designer had to say!
What inspired you to start your own jewelry line?
I've always had a great love for jewelry. Some of my earliest memories are of raiding my mom and grandma's jewelry armoires and hosting jewelry-making parties. My husband Jerad and I started making jewelry together as a hobby in 2012. When the opportunity came up for me to switch gears from my freelance career in January of 2014, I decided to take the leap and turn our passion project into my nine to five.
How long did it take you to get the brand up and running?
Since we had already established the name, website, and social media accounts when Jerad and I started, it didn't take long for me to make updates that aligned with my overall vision for the line. From there, I quickly learned how to create jewelry using the ancient method of lost wax casting. I learned from a very talented peer and friend, Joy Smith of Communion By Joy. Everything kind of clicked once I unlocked the skills needed to create these designs I'd had in my head for so long. The first collection of bronze and silver pieces was launched in June 2014 and dubbed Fractured Earth, highlighting the beauty in nature—a concept that is quickly becoming central to my design aesthetic.
What's behind the name Androgyny?
When Jerad and I created Androgyny, we chose a name that would encompass both of our perspectives. Now it's become the motto for how I design each collection, always keeping in mind that balance between hard and soft, rough and polished, and masculine and feminine.
What's an average day at work like for you?
My average day starts with a strong cup of coffee and some quiet mediation. Once I'm centered and focused, I can plan out my schedule for the day/week with a handwritten to-do list. Never underestimate the power of striking something off a list to rev up motivation!
From there, I head to a shared studio space in downtown Los Angeles, where I drop off my many bags and start my daily errands around the jewelry district. On a busy day, I'm moving jewelry through all stages of the production process—from casting to finishing. After that's all taken care of it's back to the office to work on new wax designs to be dropped off the next day, answer emails, and package and ship out any orders. It's a full day that usually ends with a glass of wine in hand.
Do you envision a certain type of girl wearing your jewelry, and if so, what is she like?
I have two perspectives in my head when I design. The woman: someone that knows herself and her style to a T. She's confident, alluring, and seeks pieces for her wardrobe that provide a feeling more than just a trend. And the man: extravagant, yet tasteful and appreciative of an artistic approach to accessorizing. I also consider the man who is drawn to the collection for someone else. I love seeing a guy get excited about seeing their significant other wearing an Androgyny piece.
You've cited The Row as a main source of inspiration before. What is it about their designs that you love?
The designs that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen create for The Row are so inspiring to me. There's a striking simplicity in their collections that shows a reverence for quality, craftsmanship, and a quiet yet powerful beauty. The textured neutrals, exaggerated silhouettes, and pared down styling are key elements to the clothes I envision my own designs being paired with, and The Row nails it every season.
Are there any other brands that you think would pair best with your jewelry?
Yes! A delicious Ryan Roche sweater over a sleek Jesse Kamm knit dress, with a pair of Feit leather sandals—all topped with my latest Porous Earth collar and cuff. That’s a dream outfit in my world.
What do you think would surprise people most about the process of creating jewelry?
I think the most surprising thing is just how much goes into it. There's so much work involved with this method of creating jewelry, from the first iteration that's carved in wax by my own two hands to when it’s cast, finished, molded, and cast again all before it even reaches the first customer. It's a process that involves a lot of care and attention to detail.
Do you look up to or admire any jewelers in particular?
Absolutely! Bliss Lau is one of my favorite jewelry designers. Her architectural designs are inspired by the places she's traveled to, and I'm always stunned by her precise and inventive silhouettes.
What are your longterm goals for the brand?
It's hard to envision the far off future of Androgyny because I know there is still so much I want to explore with my jewelry design methods. I'm launching a line of engagement rings later this year, and incorporating more crystals and raw stones into my jewelry. I can also see myself doing a line of necklaces that hold solid fragrance sometime down the line. Right now I simply see my goal as continuing to do the thing that I love, day in and day out.
Scroll down to shop some of our favorite Androgyny pieces!
Androgyny One-Of-A-Kind Sterling Silver Ear Pin ($58)
Which piece from the line is your favorite? Let us know why in the comments!