Birth of a Modern Jewelry Brand – WWD
London — In 2017, Bergdorf Goodman buyer Jia-Jia Zhu followed a hunch, quit his job and moved to Bali, Indonesia for a year.
During her sabbatical, she found new means of joy through meditation, yoga, and crystals.
“I wanted to live in a more open mind space. I wanted to lighten the burden of my heart and just follow my heart and my joy,” Zhu says, using the blue galaxy as the background for the video. said on a Zoom call.
“I meditated for two hours a day, practiced yoga three times a day, and eventually became a yoga teacher,” she added.
Zhu now takes a holistic approach to Jia Jia, her jewelry business that she launched in 2020 during the pandemic in New York City, before moving to Connecticut to support her family.
“The timing was right. We launched at a time when there was so much unknown to people and they wanted to connect with the products they purchased,” Zhu says.
“A lot of fashion, design and art is all about intuition,” she says, noting that she does it subconsciously from 9 to 5, when she supports designers and helps build businesses. Did.
In Bali, she had a vision that she needed to somehow work with healing crystals. Zhu, who has been involved in modern women’s ready-to-wear and jewelry buying for nearly three years, booked a flight to Tucson, Arizona when she learned that the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show was coming up.
“I knew it was a place where I could learn more about crystals and meet people from the industry. I really just went without knowing anyone,” she said.
At the showcase, she meets a miner and is handed some crystals from the state of Arkansas.
“I had a psychic who was my spirit guide in 2016 and helped me get out of my corporate career. which wasn’t on my radar, but I later learned she dug them up from Arkansas as well.
She took the crystals to the Los Angeles Jewelry District, but many jewelers who wanted to work with her turned them down because they wanted to use glue on the crystals when attaching them to gold chains.
All Jai Jai jewelry is hand-engraved to preserve the properties of the crystal. Jewelery prices range from $200 for gemstones and $500 to $12,000 for crystals.
The crystals Zhu uses are 300 million years old and are only drawn from veins rather than being actively mined. The crystals are then left in their raw form and washed with water, except for some household items that have been shaped.
Jia Jia’s big break came from Net-a-porter’s Vanguard mentorship program. For this program, Elizabeth von der Goltz, Zhu’s former colleague at Bergdorf Goodman and his director of Global Buying at the time, Elizabeth von der Goltz, curated the brands.
Jia Jia was exclusive to Net-a porter for a year and is now run by Matchesfashion, ModeSens, Farfetch, Browns, Saks and Moda Operandi. The brand will produce exclusive capsules for Net-a-porter and Moda Operandi.
Within the first week of launching her business, Zhu sold out all her creations. She enlisted the help of her fiancée, Greg Ballario, a former Proptech business owner. The business is currently seeking a wholesale account her executive and a direct to consumer sales manager.
The wholesale side of the business is expanding. “Our wholesale business has doubled in numbers this holiday season,” he says.
Another profitable part of the business is custom orders from $5,000 up to $15,000.
According to Zhu, 70% of Net-a-porter’s customers participate in e-tailer’s Extremely Important Person (EIP) program, spending more than $12,000 every 12 months.
When Jia Jia was founded, Zhu worked as a merchant at Rag & Bone and as a freelance yoga teacher at Sky Ting. She also held private classes for companies where she worked for friends of hers.
“I was getting whatever gigs I wanted because I was more karmic as a yoga teacher. I wasn’t really making any money doing it.”
She’s back in the US, but Bali isn’t far from her head. She will shoot images for her new campaign in Bali and will relaunch the brand’s website next month.