Meet Wendy Brandes- fine jewelry designer and our guest of the month. Former journalist working for CNN and the Wall Street Journal, she left the corporate world to follow her dreams and fill the world with beauty and style. Rihanna, Britney Spears and Skylar Grey wear her designs, and Wendy’s work got into the JCK’s Jeweler’s Choice Awards and the American Jewelry Design Council New Talent Competition.
A combination of intellect, wittiness, style, and creativity is something truly unique and it’s been my pleasure to talk to someone so inspirational and passionate about jewelry.
Jewelry and Daiquiri: Hi, Wendy, thanks for agreeing to give us an interview. My first question is short: why jewelry?
There were certain pieces — especially historically influenced pieces — that I really wanted. I could see them in my mind’s eye but I could never find them in a store, so I decided to make them myself!
JD: What does one need to quit everything and start a completely new career in fashion/jewelry? What took you personally to do that?
A resilient personality. There can be so many setbacks as you try to head off in a new direction. You have to be able to pick yourself up and keep going.
JD: What is your jewelry about? What and who inspires you? Do you ever run out of ideas? How do you keep your creativity alive?
My jewelry is mostly about bad-ass female power. I’m very interested in stories of historical women. They tend to be royalty, because those are the stories that were recorded long ago. I have, for example, Cleopatra earrings and a Boleyn necklace. Even my social-media-inspired jewelry is a power statement. I’ve got a necklace that says IDGAF and a middle-finger-emoji earring! You can’t mess with a woman wearing those. I haven’t run out of ideas yet; as long as there are women in the world, someone will inspire me.
JD: What is your favorite city? Why?
New York City is the capital of the world to me.
JD: What do you do when you don’t design jewelry?
Keeping up the Instagram accounts for my two cats is practically another full-time job! (@fitzroy_the_cat and @purrkoy_the_kitten) I guess that overlaps with jewelry, because I’ve started a cat-themed collection.
JD:Do you get attached to some pieces you’ve created? Which are your favorite creations?
There are some favorite pieces like my onyx skull ring that feel hard to part with, but I always remind myself that I can make another incredible piece. I feel like I’m always trying to outdo myself, because that’s the only way to let the existing pieces go! I wear stacks of barbed wire rings every day; I NEED those in my life. But those aren’t one-of-a-kind, like the skull, so it’s easy enough to keep them in my life.
JD: What is your niche? Whom is your jewelry for? Who is that person that would wear Wendy Brandes fine jewelry?
Women who want to stand out, women who have a great sense of humor. But you don’t have to be born bold to wear my jewelry. I’ve had customers who have always been very shy and conservative, and my jewelry is the first that they own that really makes a statement. My Blog helps people get to know me and my voice. I think that makes them comfortable with doing something different.
JD: Which brands do you wear yourself?
I don’t wear anyone else’s jewelry anymore! I have beautiful jewelry from my pre-designer days, when I was a journalist at the Wall Street Journal, CNN and People Magazine. But now, if I’m wearing something, people always say, “Is that yours?” It’s so awkward to be advertising someone else’s work. I’ve redesigned a few old pieces so I can wear them again.
JD: How do you see the future of your business and jewelry trends in general? What should our readers invest in?
Invest in what you really love. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t inspire you because it’s “appropriate” or even “classic.” Classic is overrated. When it comes to my wardrobe, for instance, I buy statement pieces rather than basic black and guess what? It’s just fine. I can wear a crazy skirt for more than 10 years. So a platinum barbed wire ring? Go for it.
JD: Whom do you admire in the fashion jewelry scene? Whom could you introduce us to for our next interview?
Katrina Kelly is a designer who works much like I do. We don’t start with gems and think, “How do I make something with this particular beautiful stone.” We come up with a concept and then find the materials to match it. I was amused by the similarity because our themes are very different. Her “Layers of Love” and “Wisdom Wands” concepts are very different from my “murdering queen” Medici poison ring!
Check out more of Wendy’s work.
What do you think of Wendy Brandes’ pieces? Let us know below!