Inspiring Women: Talking Bling With The Founders Of Covetable Jewelry Brand Jemma Wynne
The latest installment in our Inspiring Women series: Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin of divine fine jewelry brand Jemma Wynne. The kindred spirits met while working in the industry many years ago, and immediately knew they should create a company together based on their mutual admiration for one another and their shared impeccable taste. Said aesthetic has now found influential fans in the likes of January Jones, Rihanna, Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, and Olivia Palermo—but it’s their loyal legion of real New Yorkers who keep the founders’ passion for the brand flowing. Here, the duo tell The Daily about where it all began, where it’s going, and what we need to know about their new 1970s-esque Zodiac chains. We don’t need our horoscope reading to tell us we need and want one, stat!
What instantly drew you to each other? How soon did you know you’d create a brand together?
Jenny: We met almost seventeen years ago while working at a large fine jewelry house in NYC. I was just an intern in product development at the time, and Stephanie was working as a design assistant in the same department. We developed an instant bond. They had to move our desks away from each other because we just couldn’t stop talking to each other all day! We both always loved art, design, and jewelry, so it is no coincidence that we found our way to the same place!
Stephanie: We could not stop talking to each other about anything and everything related to jewelry. Jenny and I both had our own businesses on the side making hand beaded jewelry. One day I came in with a pair of earrings I had made the night before and Jenny said, ‘OMG I have to have those!’ I knew we were jewelry soul mates.
Jenny: I think we realized pretty quickly that we loved working together, but it was after three years that we decided we wanted to explore more together. We had some ideas for a collection that no one was doing yet at that time. It included open bangles constructed of thin wire with differently shaped stones and designs on the ends. We thought it was the perfect
time to try it out, so we took the leap!
You launched Jemma Wynne in 2008—what’s the journey been like over the last 13 years?
Jenny: Being an entrepreneur is a true roller coaster ride and there have been many highs and lows, but this ride continues to be an incredible one. I feel so lucky to be able to wake up every day and do what I love with someone I admire, respect, and love so much. We started in our early 20s in a tiny office the size of a closet with one idea and so much passion. I had no formal business training and had definitely never looked at a P&L statement and balance sheet before, let alone been in charge of managing all that went into it. Over the years, I have learned all aspects of running and managing our business and planning and strategizing for growth. We have been through a lot, but never lost sight of the bigger picture. We were turned down many times along the way, and last year when COVID hit, we weren’t sure if our business would survive the pandemic, but we never let the challenges drag us down. We always stayed true to our design aesthetic and worked incredibly hard to get to where we are today. We are so lucky to work with retailers that we have admired for years, have major celebrities wearing our pieces (including the highlight of having First Lady Michelle Obama wear our earrings!), work
with the best team, and most importantly, have the best clients that support us and appreciate our designs.
Stephanie: In the beginning, we both did almost everything together, but as time has gone on we have had to divide and conquer. I have taken on more of the creative roll while Jenny has taken on more of the business side. We always make all major decisions together though.
How has your own style evolved since 2008?
Stephanie: My style is simpler now. It’s tailored but casual: jeans, t-shirt, and blazer, almost always in a black, white, navy, and grey palette. I feel like my ‘uniform’ is the perfect canvas to add accessories to, such as a great chain or chunky gold bracelet stack.
Jenny: My style has always been very relaxed, feminine, casual, and layered. I’m either in a floral print dress, lace or knit midi skirt with a t-shirt and oversized cardi or sweater and sneakers, or tight black leggings, t-shirt, and an oversized chunky knit sweater. I have always loved wearing color and prints, but over the last 13 years or so, I have become way more comfortable and confident in my look.
How does your hometown of New York inspire you and the brand every day?
New York City is our hometown. It’s where the brand was founded and where the jewelry is made. The city itself is a major source of inspiration for us, but even more inspiring are the women we come across here. On a daily basis, we come into contact with diverse women from all walks of llife. Each woman expresses herself in a different way, using her individual personal style as her distinguishing characteristic. We create jewelry that can be transformed to suit any woman, depending on the way she styles it.
What has marked the brand apart since day one?
When we created Jemma Wynne, we saw there was a void in the market for fine jewelry that is rich and luxurious, but comfortable enough to wear every day. Our intention was, and still is, to create ‘go to’ jewelry that women can wear and customize to express their unique sense of style.
What do you want your customers to know and come to you for?
Quality, craftsmanship, and wearability. All of our pieces are handmade in NYC, which is something we are very proud of. We have always focused on creating quality pieces that feel good when you wear them and will withstand the test of time. We want our jewelry to be worn daily and to make people feel good!
In what ways has the industry changed since you started the brand?
How hasn’t it changed?! We have watched the industry transform over the last 13 years. We went from a very traditional, old school way of doing business to a new world where digital is booming. Social media and the internet has transformed our business in ways we could have never imagined. Instagram didn’t even exist when we launched our brand in 2008, and we had no idea how important it would become for our business. It turned into a great (arguably, the best) platform to share our work with the world, giving the consumer a unique opportunity to connect directly with us. We’ve developed great relationships with our international clients, as well as clients that do not live in the NYC area. We are working with so many on custom pieces via DM, and sending stone and sketch images. It’s made a very big world seemingly much smaller.
What does your own everyday jewelry rotation look like?
Stephanie: Studs, watch, and a wrist stack of gold and diamond bracelets. More recently I have been wearing our Connexion and Zodiac necklaces layered.
Jenny: I’m very minimalist when it comes to earrings. I’m either in our baguette huggies or emerald studs. But when it comes to bracelets, more is more for me. I’m always mixing up my stack with different gold and diamond bracelets—mostly from our collection, mixed with Cartier and Hermès.
What styles/trends have you noticed customers leaning towards during the pandemic?
Our customers have been gravitating towards much more personal and meaningful pieces. We are blown away by how many custom inquiries we have received during the pandemic, and we are grateful to be working so closely with our clients on pieces that are incredibly special to them.
Your atelier is so beautiful! Can you tell us about the design and interiors?
Our space is a dream come true for us. We wanted a place we could come to everyday that truly embodied everything we love. When we met our designer Daun Curry, we knew that we were onto something. She has an amazing eye and truly captured everything that we wanted. A large part of our brand is about the duality of how we mix our personal styles— classic, polished, and relaxed femininity. It inspires the creation of our jewelry and had a major influence on the design of the showroom as well. The space has a modern and contemporary feel, with soft feminine elements and rich colors mixed in, much like our collection. You will see a lot of black and white, combined with really saturated emerald greens and teals, rich metallic textures, and beautiful shades of pinks throughout. The furniture has clean lines and feels more polished, but
the soft pinks of the Ro chair and Murano glass chandelier offer that perfect balance. We love our custom fabricated jewelry cases—they feel like special jewel boxes to us. They are handcrafted with teal mirrored glass and white marble interiors. They are sleek and modern and reflect the rest of the room, which we love. The curtain panel also sets a tone in the space.
It is a little more whimsical with the floating triangle cutouts, and we love how it draws the eye to the height of the space and ties in the more industrial feel of the ceiling and floors.
You have a major celebrity fan base, who’s one woman you’d still love to see wearing Jemma Wynne?
Sarah Jessica Parker!
Tell us about the new Zodiac charms, what do we need to know?
You need one! We love wearing something deeply personal that reflects our own characteristics, without being too literal. The Zodiacs are rich in weight and texture, inspired by the ‘70s. We love symbolic pieces, and our zodiacs capture the complex nature of astrology that can be truly transformative. We find it so interesting to learn that people with the same signs embody similar personality traits. Also, they are unisex!
You worked with a wax carver on them, what was that process like and why is it hard to come across these days?
Picture many, many FaceTimes and sketches going back and forth! Most model makers today are trained in CAD and that is what we typically do for most of our designs; however, we wanted a different vibe for our Zodiacs. Working with a wax carver allowed us to explore the fluidity, curves and texture of the pieces in a different way than we usually do.