After being snowed in for the weekend thanks to Winter Storm Jonas, the thought of escaping to the serene JW Marriott Starr Pass alongside so many talented and unique designers brings a smile to my face. JCK Tucson is truly the jewelry industry’s winter oasis and it’s only 13 days away! Last week, I uncovered the journey and aspirations of two exhibitors who are #JCKTucsonBound, Geoffrey Scott and Ayesha Studio. Both established designers are debuting a new line at JCK Tucson and spoke similar words of wisdom to emerging designers: develop, make mistakes, fail forward, and understand you can’t be all things to all people. Geoffrey Cooper of Geoffrey Scott is a man of many words, and they flow with enthusiasm, passion and delight for his craft. He is warm, sincere, extremely professional, and you can immediately tell there is depth to his soul. He keeps his emotions close to his chest, but it’s easy to pick up on his triumph over some intense hurdles and his having come out stronger because of it. My kind of man—or jeweler, I should say. Get him talking about his gorgeous wife or his kids? Forget it. We haven’t met in person, but I literally can feel his face light up as he talks about them. I was delighted by Cooper’s humility and his adaptability to change. He continues to be successful because he keeps a close eye on his customers. I can’t wait to finally meet him in Tucson and drool over the debut of his new collection, Montauk.
My other spotlight was with the sweet and soulful Ayesha Mayadas of Ayesha Studio, someone who has the type of energy that makes you believe in the beauty of this industry all over again. She is a talent to behold, and I know she’ll immediately cast her spell on many a new and familiar face. Her jewelry is water-inspired and focuses on the purity in lines. It’s almost sacrilegious to try to put this artist’s credo into words, so let her take you on a magnificent visual journey instead.
Now is the time to cross JCK Tucson off your jewelry bucket list, register today.
Designer Dish: Geoffrey Scott
Jacqueline Stone: Why are you excited for JCK Tucson?
Geoffrey Cooper: With JCK’s designer mix slated for the show, coupled with the way they’ve really embraced me, I’m super excited to see this event come together. Also, I’m absolutely thrilled that Benjamin Guttery from Third Coast Gems will be at the show. His energy and passion for the industry is infectious, and I couldn’t have found a better fit to assist me in debuting my new collection!
JS: Can you please tell us how the Montauk collection was inspired? It seems to be a departure from your former aesthetic, and I’m curious as to what the catalyst was.
GC: The Montauk collection isn’t so much about inspiration for me as it is about the love of unique and exotic gems. I wanted to create a collection in which every piece was unique, and no two gems were identical. I have been very blessed in the past year to gain more traction with retailers in addition to bringing on a partner. This has allowed me not only to take more risk in design, but also to get back to my roots of creating exotic, one-of-a-kind pieces and not worry as much about the mass-market sell-through.
JS: Have you always lived in California? Where did your jewelry journey begin?
GC: I was born in Seattle, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then made the move to Encinitas, Calif., back in 2012. It was the best decision of my life. Being near the ocean and in a place where billionaires and bums can share a wave in peace is pretty grounding and great for my creative vibes. My journey in the industry began as an entry-level salesperson when I was 18. I had events in my life that required me to be working as opposed to going to school full time. I knew I could sell, and luxury goods appealed to me, so it was a natural fit. My first employer took a chance on me. He taught me the ins and outs of the industry, from design and manufacturing to wholesale and retail distribution. I spent 10 years with the organization, and it laid the groundwork for me to develop my line and truly understand the needs of a buyer, from the retailer’s perspective.
JS: You are notorious for being an economically friendly jeweler and a leader in sustainability before it was considered cool. Why is this essential to your brand DNA?
GC: The best I can do for myself and my kids is to be more conscious in design and material selection. It’s not really difficult for anyone who works with precious metals to make this little change. With nearly all major refiners providing alternative metals and recycled metal options at this point, it’s an easy choice.
JS: What is your favorite piece and why?
GC: My favorite piece at the moment is my Liv lariat necklace. Liv came to my mind on a stormy road trip on the way home from a trunk show. I had to pull over and put it on paper before I forgot about it. It’s that special day-to-day piece that can be as sexy as you want it to be. It’s delicate and petite but at the same time bold and empowering.
JS: Any advice for emerging designers?
GC: Fail forward! No, really. You will get beat up at 9 out of 10 doors you knock on (if not more). You will make mistakes. You will fail. It’s how you walk through the fire that counts. Take those mistakes, wake up tomorrow and improve. Be willing to adapt a bit, but stay true to yourself. Oh, and find your customer. You can’t sell everyone, and you can’t make everyone happy. Find your customer and treat them well.
Designer Dish: Ayesha Studio
Jacqueline Stone: Can you give us sneak peek about projects in the works? Anything new you’ll be bringing to the show?
Ayesha Mayadas: After years of working in gold, I decided to look at silver as a way to make larger pieces and to make more mistakes! This happened about 18 months ago, so Tucson will be the first wholesale show where I will have a nice range of my silver work. My major focus still remains with my gold collection and this year, I’ve refocused on my alternative bridal line. I will have full line of rings with me as well.
JS: Any advice for emerging designers?
AM: There are definitely rising stars in the business, but that is not the only way to have an exciting and rewarding career as a jewelry designer. Emerging designers should take the time that is available in the early stages of their career to develop, play, make mistakes. Also as soon as is financially possible, do what you do best and hire others do what they do best. Doing everything will definitely stagnate your growth.
JS: Why are you excited for JCK Tucson?
AM: JCK has addressed many of the concerns that designers have when doing these shows. I am a newcomer to this wholesale show world, but the fact that JCK is hosting 50 VIP retailers for the first time should bring a lot of energy and, I hope, orders.
JS: Could you tell me more about forging and why you made that choice? It’s a technique that I find absolutely fascinating, and unfortunately it’s not utilized as frequently as we move more into mass manufacturing.
AM: I am obsessed by line and how effective a pure and simple line can be. For me, the hammer is the only tool that lets me transfer onto metal the lines I see in my head. I also look for an “eggshell” quality to the jewelry I make. Again, forging gives me the opportunity to make thin, lightweight structures.
JS: What is your favorite piece right now and why?
AM: My favorite right now are these cuffs that I’m making in sterling silver with various stones and diamonds. They speak to the lightweight, eggshell quality I describe above, and when they are closed (there is a catch), the overlap of the cuff can leave the viewer wondering which side of the overlap actually holds the stone. It was important that the edges of the cuff (both the one you can see and the one you cannot see) have a purpose.