Jewelry designer Polly Wales has relocated her studio, workshop, and team of artisans from the U.K. to a 2,500-square-foot-space in downtown Los Angeles that will also house a showroom and consultation services.
Known for her ethereal style, Wales’s jewelry is created by casting precious stones directly into 18-karat gold. “It’s a process of complete serendipity, producing outcomes I can never fully predict,” she says. Because the fluidity of the wax to molten metal creates a movement in the stones and texture in the metal, each piece is entirely unique. “I think it’s the ‘perfect imperfectness’ of my work that appeals to so many women,” Wales says. Here she talks U.S. vs. U.K. style and why L.A. is the perfect city in which to launch her brand.
Why are you moving the studio to Los Angeles?
For the sunshine! No—we’ve had an underground cult following for some time, but our business has really exploded in the last three years. We’ve slowly built our brand in North America and now have more than 40 retailers there. The American market seems to really understand our aesthetic and hold craftsmanship of fine jewelry in high regard. While we’re getting more interest in the U.K., especially in bespoke commissions, it’s a slow evolution. So moving to the U.S. just seems to make most sense. The sunshine beckons!
Where is your current studio?
Since leaving London three years ago our workshop has been in the Cotswold countryside in southwest England. We’ve worked from a studio in a 400-year-old converted barn, which has done us proud during a time of rapid growth, but our move to the U.S. has come at just the right time—we’re bursting at the seams. Two of our dedicated team members will be remaining behind in the U.K. to take care of regional sales, distribution and repairs.
How will this change your company and its future? Will you be splitting your time between the two offices?
I very much feel that our focus now will become about the U.S. For some time I’ve felt as though what we do fits better with the U.S. market, so I’m keen to make the most of that while we can, and, creatively speaking, I’m looking forward to being in the thick of things in L.A. We’re looking forward to having the space in our new premises to house our workshop, design atelier, showroom, and consultation service all under one roof.
What are some of your favorite spots in the city?
Obviously we’ve got a lot to learn. I’d hate to show our newness by stating the obvious, but the Rose Bowl has been a good place to explore, and Griffith Park for small kids. Strapping them on to the back of a small pony and turning them loose to gallop wild—doesn’t get much better than that.
Has Los Angeles inspired any of your designs?
I feel like I’ve slightly found my home in L.A. in terms of the vibe that is happening there at the moment. In some ways I feel like I’ve been culturally or aesthetically, slightly out on a limb in the U.K. So finding a home for what I do I hope will give me the confidence and space to really expand and go to town on my work, knowing that there will be a happy, welcoming home for it in the end. That in itself is really inspiring.
What are some of your long and short-term goals for the company?
I think short term we’ll be happy just to get to Los Angeles in one piece; In the longer term, we’re all really excited to find what L.A. has to offer, to connect with the local creative community, and to see what inspiration we can draw for our 2016 collections.