If you’ve yet to be acquainted with L.A.-based jewelry designer Jess Hannah, let today’s story be your crash-course introduction. Not only are all of her covetable pieces handmade to order, but she also ensures that nothing is gold plated (solid 14K gold, baby) and that all stones are ethically sourced and diamonds are conflict-free. Talk about quality, eh?
We recently became acquainted with the brand through her spotless Instagram account and decided we had to pick her brain on everything from the biggest challenges of running a business to social media’s impact on brand awareness—so we did. Scroll down to read up about Hannah, and don’t forget to shop the collection, because you’ll likely want everything.
Who What Wear: When did you start designing and making jewelry?
Jess Hannah: I’ve always been into making things. I guess it started when my mom used to let me play with my food, or so she says. Then, I moved on to friendship bracelets (like really good ones) at summer camp, and it all progressed from there. On a more serious note, I studied graphic design in college while taking metalsmithing courses on the side in a retired jeweler’s garage. I gradually accumulated my own tools (I asked for a torch for Hanukkah from my parents!) and set up a bench in my bedroom. After graduating and not getting my dream graphic design job, I decided to shift gears and pursue my real passion. I had never really thought of it as a career option until then. I got an apprenticeship for a duo of fine jewelers and worked on honing my skills. A year or so passed, and then I decided to start my own line!
WWW: Describe your creative process.
JH: I mood-board and draw a lot. I keep a notebook everywhere. In my purse, my gym bag, my desk, next to my bed—everywhere. You never know when creativity will strike, and you don’t want to wait until you are at your desk, because you could forget an idea.
WWW: What are the biggest challenges of running your business?
JH: 1. Knowing when to let go. When I started, it was just me, and while I don’t have any full-time employees just yet, it definitely has been a process learning what I should hand off to other people and what I should do myself. I like to have control of everything, so it was even hard when I had to hire an accountant and someone to help with production.
2. Learning the ins and outs of the business. I didn’t study business or even work in fashion prior to starting this. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to learn the industry; a year and a half later, I think I am starting to get the swing of things.
WWW: What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you, career wise?
JH: When Steven Alan started carrying my pieces. It was really early on, maybe only six months after I launched.
WWW: How has social media helped with your company?
JH: It has definitely helped with discovery. A lot of people have found my brand via instagram. It’s a nice way for someone to see a visual representation as not just your pieces, but your brand as a whole and who I am as a person. It makes people feel more connected to what they’re buying.
WWW: Are there any jewelry pieces specifically that you think every woman would benefit from owning?
JH: Well I’m biased of course. But generally speaking, I think if you are interested in buying jewelery that it is important to invest in quality pieces. Plated and costume jewelry loses its value. Invest in solid gold with quality craftsmanship and timeless designs that you can have forever.
WWW: How do you personally take risks with styling jewelry?
JH: I’m not too risky to be honest, but when I want to make more of a statement I pile it on. Multiple rings on every finger and layered necklaces.
WWW: Do you have a favorite iconic jewelry look?
WWW: Who do you design for? Do you have a muse or take inspiration from anyone in particular?
JH: I have a specific (imaginary) person in mind when I design. I consider what she does and where she shops and what she is drawn to. I also always consider comfort. I like pieces you could accidentally fall asleep in and don’t need to be constantly futzed with.
WWW: What’s next for Jess Hannah jewelry?
JH: There’s a lot I’m working on right now. It’s funny because I really just want it all to be done so I can blurt it out and share with the world, but I have to wait a bit! I am working on samples for a new collection and am really excited about the direction I am taking the brand next. Stay tuned!
Are you an aspiring jewelry designer? Did you find Hannah’s story interesting? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to head over to her site to shop her beautiful pieces!