LM: Let's start with a snapshot of you and the company.
RK: I am originally from Cleveland (Go Cavs!), studied Business and Finance at Boston University, worked for dot-com startups, then decided to move to LA in search of my next adventure. I worked in Hollywood for a prominent producer and a big talent agent, but I realized that was not the career that fulfilled me, so I went back to my finance roots and switched to commercial real estate.
Then I began designing and producing jewelry. It happened organically and I now design a line of modern, architecturally-inspired fine jewelry. I manufacture exclusively in Los Angeles, using 14K gold, hand-set diamonds, and colored sapphires. My largest points of distribution are direct-to-consumer (via private showings and company website rachelkatzjewelry.com), online retail (including Goop), and high-end boutiques around the country.
Since my brand's inception in 2014, it has quickly resonated with women around the world, cultivating a strong celebrity following including Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gigi Hadid, and others. We've also enjoyed press coverage in Vogue.com, InStyle, Shape Magazine, and more.
LM: Tell me how you came to start this company, and what was your inspiration?
RK: I've always been drawn to forging new ground and building something from the ground up. When I worked for dot-com startups, we were literally creating something from nothing. And even when I worked in commercial real estate, it required generating and managing my own business. I had to cut my teeth in other fields until I could fully actualize my abilities and apply them to something I'm truly passionate about.
My jewelry line began unexpectedly. I had a necklace of my mom's from the 70s that people would always ask about, and a friend urged me to reproduce. I finally met with a fabricator to help me, and then started designing other pieces around it--and things took off from there!
Jewelry has always been a passion of mine, but I didn't want to wear someone else's designs. Since childhood, I've been drawn to numbers, mathematics, symmetry, and art--my collection is strongly influenced by the structure and geometry of mid-century architecture. But I also love the freeform hedonism of the 1970s. My aim is to translate these qualities into my designs and come up with pieces that are sophisticated, artistic, and timeless, yet wearable for everyday accessorizing. I am very fortunate that this is resonating with other women around the world.
I realized that jewelry and entrepreneurship are my true calling. All of my past experience contributed to making the transition graceful: friends from my dot-com days offered to build my website (rachelkatzjewelry.com), one is a photographer, another a graphic designer, etc.
My aesthetic has evolved, and I am focused on building a strong and lasting brand. It's amazing to look back and see how I fell into doing something I love.
LM: What is your favorite part about starting this company?
RK: Having my own company empowers me. It challenges me to really tap into my potential, to exercise my creativity in both design and business. And it shoves me outside my comfort zone!
LM: If you could describe your line in three words, what would you say and why?
RK: Powerful, timeless, and sophisticated. At the core of my company's vision is strength: my signature styles are assertive and clean, designed to enhance the personal power and beauty of the women who wear my pieces.
LM: Was there a moment when you thought, "Wow, I've really made it"?
RK: There was a weekend pretty early on when Jennifer Lopez, Emma Stone, and Taylor Swift all wore my pieces within 36 hours. That was pretty surreal. But honestly, what makes me feel that I've made it is when I connect with someone who really loves my jewelry. Having clients who are excited and passionate about the line really fulfills me.
LM: Talk a little bit about why you think your line has been so successful?
RK: A large part of it is the quality of the design and fabrication. I manufacture to a very high standard, so all of my pieces are heirloom-quality. The designs are built around the universal language of strong geometric shapes, so the jewelry is very versatile as well.
Another huge factor is persistence. I've had to learn to consistently go outside of my comfort zone, not to be shy about asking for help, and to always find a way to move forward.
LM: How can emerging brands in the space be successful?
RK: I knew nothing about the jewelry business when I first started, so I had to figure it out step by step. I've learned to humble myself, to reach out and learn from other people, and to have patience. My advice to others would be don't be afraid to take risks; trust the process and don't overthink things. Not only will you learn from the experience, but I have found if you take the leap, the parachute appears.
With beautifully designed pieces, I'm so happy to find Rachel's line.