Jennifer Fisher Jewelry turns 10 this year, and to celebrate this momentous mark, the eponymous, New York-based designer has created a new fine jewelry collection to add to the already incredible assortment brass baubles, charms and customizable pieces for which she is known. Indeed, being in commerce for a decade is an incredible feat to achieve in this economy, especially in fashion, where brands seem to come and go as quickly as trends. This is why it takes a great amount of gusto and business acumen to truly make it—qualities that Fisher evidently possesses in abundance.
As a student at the University of Southern California, where she studied business marketing, she became enraptured by the world of fashion after interning at LA Style and Detour magazines. “I thought I wanted to work on the advertising side of publishing, and I would see the racks of clothing going by,” she said. Once realizing that she was on the “wrong side,” she started her career as a stylist based in Los Angeles. She would later find love and move to New York, intending to start a family. This would prove to be a difficult endeavor. After two miscarriages via surrogate, and IVF treatments for herself, she finally gave birth to her son Shane.
“There’s a reason for this long story,” she explained in her showroom on 5th Avenue. “When my son was born, I was looking for something that was really cool to signify him.” Having gone through such a tumultuous ordeal, Fisher was exacting in what she wanted. Sadly, the only pieces she could find were delicate, small jewelry that really didn’t suit her personality, or show how she wanted to honor her son. “So, I ended up making this basic dog tag-shaped necklace that I wore on a very heavy gold chain,” she said. “I did it because I wanted something different; I wanted his full name, and no one was designing stuff like this at the time.”
Just like that, she saw that there was a niche that needed to be filled, and a business was born. To be sure, Fisher struck a cord with consumers that were looking for pieces that were bold, sizable, and unlike the wispy wares that were pervasive in jewelry market.
“I think we’re known for statement costume jewelry that is classic, but has a twist in that its strong. Yes, strong pieces of jewelry,” she described. “On the fine level, we’re known for bespoke customization. All my pieces have a bit of edge to them—they’re not so soft.”
Having a clear-cut aesthetic definitely works in Fisher’s favor, as it sets her apart in a saturated industry. Whether it is dog tags, knots, screws or chains, all of Fisher’s designs imbue a sculptural, take-me-seriously quality. But what is even more noteworthy is the way she structured her company—dividing her wholesale accounts at Barney’s New York and Net-A-Porter, where she sells her costume brass pieces, from her bespoke, fine jewelry collection, which she sells through her e-commerce site and showroom in New York.
“I treat them as two separate businesses,” she explained. “The brass collection came during the recession. [Magazine] editors wanted giant jewelry for stories, and I was spending $10,000 on these bracelets and cuffs. So, we started casting in brass and polishing it to look like gold. Suddenly, we started getting all this editorial placement.”
Though a great deal of her recognition came from her brass pieces appearing in these high-fashion glossies, as well as her stint as a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the core of her business lies with her fine jewelry line—most significantly, her charms. As she described:
“The key behind our fine jewelry is that it offers customers something that no one else has. We can do it in white, rose or yellow gold; 18K or 14K; different chains of varying lengths; diamond letters or diamond dates; you can have it engraved. No one wants the same thing. And with our charms, once a customers buys one, they get hooked and keep on buying them.”
By keeping her fine jewelry collection in house, so to speak, Fisher is able to regulate her margins, and make more of a return on her investment. Department stores are also less likely to buy fine pieces outright, preferring to purchase them on consignment, as they don’t want to take the risk of selling a high-priced product. However, they are more than willing to buy the less-expensive costume jewelry, showcasing them to their loyal customer base, and furthering brand awareness. “I was doing myself a great service by creating this very strong business model from the very beginning,” said Fisher.
With this in mind, it only makes sense that Fisher would celebrate 10 years with a fine jewelry line. Comprised of signet rings and necklaces made of 18K gold and enamel with engravings of snakes, flowers and thunderbolts, this anniversary collection marks the first time Fisher has used color in her designs, which she intends to build upon with single-colored pieces. “Yes, we’re introducing a new category, but it also caters to my existing customer base that already have, say, my necklace, and want to add a charm from the enamel collection for color,” she said.
And though it may be slightly different from what she has created in the past, the collection essentially feeds into the brand’s DNA. Nowadays, with fashion so inundated with producing new trends constantly, Fisher has made it a point to follow her instincts, and design jewelry that fit the needs of her patrons, who are basically women like her. “I am my ideal customer—a free-spirited woman who knows what she wants,” she said. “That’s whom we sell to everyday: women that see what they like, buy it, and do it without approval.”
If one were to look at fashion titans like Miuccia Prada, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg, its hard not to notice how their collections speak to their lifestyles—whether it is an Italian sophisticate, preppy cowboy, or glamorous globetrotter. They prove that sticking to distinct vision is what it takes to truly triumph in an incredibly dense industry. And if time is the truest measure of success, Fisher is well on her way of joining that illustrious pantheon.
“I design for myself, and I hope that other woman associate with it,” she said. “Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. I started my business as my own best customer, and that’s how I’ll continue.”
By Barry Samaha