Featured on Gossip Girl, Vogue, and even First Lady Michelle Obama, Suzanna Dai‘s luxury jewelry collection has graced countless editorial spreads and garnered the attention of big brands in the fashion industry. The Austin-based jewelry designer went from her first sale with Bergdorf Goodman to collaborating with Anne Taylor LOFT and having retail stores like Anthropologie carry her line. We asked Suzanna Dai to share the story of her journey to become a successful luxury jewelry designer and she offers advice for industry collaborations.
Fashion Mingle: How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
Suzanna Dai: I moved to NYC in August 2000 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. I interned with Chado Ralph Rucci during the summer of 2001, and shortly thereafter got my first job designing doll clothes at the Alexander Doll Company. I then moved on to design beading and embroidery layouts, source trims, and recolor prints at Jones NY Dress. My next move was to design for a luxury tabletop company, Kim Seybert, which was my last full-time position before starting Suzanna Dai in May 2009. I did consulting design work for Ann Taylor LOFT and collaborated with them to design several Suzanna Dai for LOFT collections, as well as partnering with Giuliana Rancic to design a Suzanna Dai collection for Breast Cancer Awareness month, which was sold in their stores nationwide in 2013.
FM: What inspired you to start your own brand?
SD: I always made jewelry for myself and others, and I have a life-long love for beading and embroidery. I decided to start the brand in NYC in 2009 as a result of my desire to work for myself doing something I love.
FM: You design bridal and luxury jewelry. How different are both markets? Do they somehow converge?
SD: These two markets often times overlap. Many of the styles I make can easily be recolored to fit the bridal market. I think the vintage look of the line lends itself very easily to the bridal market.
FM: Your line can be found in stores worldwide. How did you find the first stockists that would carry your jewelry line?
SD: I started the line in May 2009 in NYC. The first collection in Spring 2009 was picked up by Bergdorf Goodman so that naturally led to a lot of interest from other stores nationwide. The buyers at Takashimaya on 5th Avenue saw the line there and placed an order, and the line was quickly picked up by Calypso St Barth and Scoop NYC. I started to get a lot of press in national and international magazines and on TV shows such as Gossip Girl, which drew, even more, interest to the line. Everything kind of organically evolved from that initial sale at Bergdorf Goodman and the press that followed.
FM: What advice would you offer fashion designers and stylists who want to collaborate with jewelry designers for runway events?
SD: I would say be open to working with people, have a humble and gracious attitude, but maintain your core integrity as a designer.
Suzanna Dai is having a Mother’s Day sale on her website (www.suzannadai.com) beginning April 25th. Plus, if you subscribe to their mailing list you’ll get an extra 15% off coupon on your first order.
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