Mom Muse | Jennie Kwon
From classical violinist to lawyer to designer of fine jewelry, Jennie Kwon doesn’t do anything halfway. This multi-talented artist set out from a young age to become a successful classical violinist. And she did, studying with some of the most highly-regarded names in the classical music world and even performing at Carnegie Hall. With the classical music world at her feet, Jennie made the decision to walk away and pursue a completely different interest – corporate law. She began this next phase of her life at a prestigious law firm, and then joined a major entertainment studio in Los Angeles. After working several years as an attorney, her beautiful twins were born. Reese and Issac, now three years old, reawakened the artist in Jennie and inspired her to make another major life change and follow her dream to design jewelry. She created her first collection and was off and running with Jennie Kwon Designs.
Selfie of Jennie, her husband Ryan Fujikawa and their twins, Reese and Issac.
Her minimalist style and drive for perfection shine through in each piece Jennie creates. The delicate, graceful nature of her jewelry is refreshing and modern, and stands out as extra special in a sea of oversized statement pieces. And each piece is painstakingly made by hand.
Stone hunting for gray diamonds.
An infinitely cool stack of Jennie Kwon diamond rings.
Although new to the jewelry arena, Jennie Kwon Designs has been featured in an impressive list of top-tier publications, including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle and Lucky, just to name a few.
A favorite designer of Barneys New York, the iconic store recently featured a video of Jennie on their website talking about what inspires her and her philosophy. Something Jennie said in the video really stuck with us at MSL and we think you’ll find it inspiring too. In summary, she talks about the importance of listening to your own inner voice and staying true to yourself. She goes on to say that it’s easy to get distracted by what other people are doing, but “stay true to your own voice and people will sense you are genuine.” Good advice. This applies to life in general, not just work.
Jennie’s minimal, modern office and creative space.
MSL: Describe your style in five words or less.
Restrained, eye-catching, edited, clean and comfortable.
MSL: You have a really interesting and varied background, what inspired you to become a jewelry designer?
I’ve always had a creative spirit — making things, drawing, imagining. I was a classically trained violinist for the better part of my life but took a detour into law. For the last few years of my career as an attorney, I really felt a void and yearned to return to something more creative. While on maternity leave with my twins, I took the opportunity to dabble in a few things, like ceramics, cooking and knitting, just to get the creative juices flowing again. I took a short course in metalsmithing at a local art school and it really resonated with me. The rest is history.
MSL: What do you like best about your job? The biggest challenge?
I love the fact that something I create could be so small, almost diminutive, yet hold so much meaning. One little piece of jewelry can make a woman feel powerful, unique, or can remind them of something very important in their lives. The biggest challenge is also one of the best things about working for myself — the flexibility. I was used to working in a very structured corporate environment where things are very regimented. Now that I have my own business, I love that I can make my own schedule, make time for my kids, be there to drop them off and pick them up from school (most of the time), but it’s also a challenge trying balance my personal and professional life. It all sort of becomes jumbled at times and you just have to wing it and try to make it all work.
The twins enjoy the beach.
MSL: How do you get inspiration for your designs?
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I design for myself — pieces that I would love to wear, and I think this is the most honest way I myself know how to design. In terms of what inspires my sense of aesthetic, I think it’s just an accumulation of all that I’m naturally drawn to and inspired by, whether it be people, my kids, nature, architecture or music.
MSL: What has been the biggest moment of your career so far?
Every milestone is a big moment in my career since one thing builds upon the other. From being written up in a blog post at the outset, to getting picked up by my first retailer, to getting my first piece of press, to having one of my pieces worn by a celebrity, to getting picked up by a major department store… it’s all been big to me.
MSL: What’s the one item in your closet you can’t live without, that makes you feel both chic and comfortable?
My Rag & Bone boyfriend jeans. You can dress them up with a button-down shirt and chic booties, or dress them down and give them an edgy vibe with a soft tee and a cool pair of high-tops. (One of our favs at MSL too!)
MSL: Whose style do you most admire and draw inspiration from?
I’ve always been a big fan of Sofia Coppola and Emmanuelle Alt. Love their pared-down, clean but edgy vibe.
MSL: Do you have any tips on how you streamline your morning routine? Simplify your makeup routine to the basics, dry shampoo, and go-to pieces in your wardrobe.
Issac and Reese show off their California-cute toddler style.
MSL: Developing a unique style comes at an early age for some children. Do you let your children choose what they’re going to wear? How do you talk about getting dressed with them?
As long as it’s practical for the occasion and suitable for the weather that particular day, I let them choose what they’d like to wear. They’re still fairly young, at three years of age, so they need help getting dressed but toddlers love feeling like they have a choice in what they’re doing at the moment, so I let them choose their outfits for the day.
MSL: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.
Prior to kids, I used to be an avid outdoorswoman. I loved bouldering, trekking for days without bathing to Machu Picchu, and whitewater rafting. I don’t look very rugged though, do I?
MSL: What’s your best style advice for other moms out there?
Keep it simple. The older I get and especially post kids, I think it’s key to find a signature look and go with it. It streamlines your morning routine and simple is always chic, whereas overdone, not so much.
Here are a few of our favorites from Jennie’s new collection.
Jennie’s beautiful creations are available at Barneys New York, Rebecca Taylor and several small boutiques nationwide such as Catbird in New York and Twist in the Northwest, as well as online. Here’s a complete where-to-buy list.