L.A. native and Donatienne handbag designer Nikki Erwin found a lack of ultra-cool composition in the fine jewelry industry, so she decided to use her designing background and start her own line. If the launch party is any indication (Sara and Erin Foster hosted a star-studded affair) Established Jewelry is already becoming, well, established.
Erwin, who has the distinction of being jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer’s first employee (she was hired by Meyer at the age of 19) credits her former boss with teaching her about the industry and how to develop a high-quality line. Oh, and maybe customer service, too: Each piece of the Established Jewelry collection is made to order. It’s also produced, and sourced locally here in L.A.
What was your inspiration for Established Jewelry?
When it comes to style, I’m all over the place. With Donatienne I was able to show my girly, sweet side, and with Established, I can show my edgy, sexy side. It’s important to me that my accessories and style represent me accurately. Between the two brands, I feel properly balanced.
When and how did you start designing and making jewelry?
I started making jewelry when I was little girl. I used to make my mom take me to the LA convention center during jewelry shows and I’d buy all kinds of stones and beads and would spend hours making homemade jewelry. I’d give it as gifts for birthdays to my girlfriends, and even sell some at school. It wasn’t until I started working with Jen Meyer that I had the opportunity to work with precious stones and metals.
What was your experience like at Jennifer Meyer? How long were you there and what did you do there?
It was incredible. I was so young and not even sure what I wanted to do in life at that point, so it was a big part of opening the fashion doors for me. Because I was the first person in the company, my job entailed a little bit of everything. Jen allowed me to be really hands-on with all of it, and she included me in so much. Of course she did all the designing, but I was pretty much a part of everything after that.
What lesson that you learned there are you now applying to your own brand?
Ha, I learned just about everything! Even now I’m constantly calling her for advice and with questions. Quality is very important to Jen, and I would like to hold my line to those same standards.
What is your favorite piece and why?
I’m really obsessed with the evil eye bracelet. I wear it every day and I truly believe it brings me good luck.
Who are some of your favorite jewelry designers?
I pretty much only wear Jennifer Meyer, Cartier, and of course, Established. I love great custom pieces as well. It’s fun to find little treasures that no one else has. But now, when I want a piece of jewelry, I make it!
How are you balancing Donatienne and Established?
It definitely keeps me on my toes! Luckily all my manufacturing and sourcing are currently in the same vicinity, so I have really efficient, action-packed days.
What are your long and short-term goals for Established?
To be honest, at this point, I feel that my goals have been met. Everything else will be icing on the cake. I have conceptualized, created, and launched a line that I’m really confident about and proud of.