Designer Spotlight: Whitney SternJul 29, 2013
Ben Bridge is excited to introduce Whitney Stern, an innovative young designer from Seattle, whose pieces are regularly worn on the red carpet and have been featured in Lucky and Oprah Magazine. The Ben Bridge team has worked closely with Whitney to create an exclusive collection of jewelry that adds sparkle and whimsy to any outfit. We sat down with Whitney to talk about her collection, her background, the design process, giving back, and her future.
When did you realize your talent and passion for jewelry design?
I know the exact moment I started designing jewelry! I was in college during my semester abroad in South America working with indigenous Chilean women artisans and public health workers. They taught me how to create macramé and how to blow glass. Each piece I created based on this ancient form of weaving was unique and colorful. It was a powerful time because I was inspired in every aspect of my life: professionally, personally, and artistically. It was very rewarding, therapeutic experience. When I came back to the United States, people would ask me if they could purchase the jewelry I was wearing; they started commissioning me to create pieces. I knew there was something to it and realized I had passion to become a true artist and designer at heart.
Can you tell us about your “I’ve made it” moment?
There isn’t one particular moment that comes to mind, but a series of events that have led up to the present moment, for which I feel incredibly grateful. We are experiencing a great deal of growth and buzz around our collections with recent press, positive customers feedback, and new doors that are opening. It is a true honor to be sold at Ben Bridge stores around the country – to know that my brand is being recognized as an “up and coming” designer line at such a prestigious store. This gives me the most awareness that we are going in the right direction!
Can you explain the design process? How does a piece go from idea to production?
It’s an exhilarating process with so many careful steps to take from start to finish. First, I study magazines and online blogs to see pantone colors and what’s next in fashion. I also travel abroad to amazing destinations, namely Europe and Asia, to international jewelry shows to view what is trending in fine fashion jewelry. Next, I storyboard to put together looks, concepts, and aesthetics that inspire and move me. Sometimes I even take a walk in nature with open eyes to discover new shapes and natural elements that speak to me. After, I look through my factory gemstone and diamond catalogs that showcase all of the semi-precious stones we can source with original cuts and facets to select options for a specific collection. When I am in Asia product developing with my design team, I get to select the specific gemstones by hand and view the raw materials that are sourced from all over the world. From there, it’s all about sketching! Once I’ve created a drawing I am happy with and selected the gemstones and diamonds that will accompany the piece, I send it to my design team for review. Once it passes this stage and I approve final sketches, the piece goes into model making and production. Soon after, I have my sample mold. It truly is a global partnership and I am lucky to be working with such powerful jewelers and craftsman.
What do you do for fun when you’re not designing?
I spend time with my amazing friends, community, and family. I also practice and teach yoga – it’s a spiritual, grounding, and balancing connection in my life. l listen to music and I love to dance and laugh! I enjoy cooking, reading and creative writing. I love to travel and I spend time each winter traveling to Argentina where my husband is from and where we still have family. They are very ahead of the trends in Buenos Aires so I always feel renewed and re-inspired when I return.
Can you tell us about the metals and materials you use?
The collections are created using a diverse group of precious metals in 14K yellow, white, and rose gold with silver details. We add soft brushed and sanded textures to our pieces so they have a real handcrafted, natural feel. Our organic, luminous necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets are sprinkled with canary, white, champagne, and black diamonds often set against black rhodium, offering an everyday look with an edge. We integrate bright, unique semi-precious gemstone assortment into our collections that are specifically faceted to the one-of-a-kind shapes and cuts we select that make them look “WS” in style and design.
How would you describe the featured line at Ben Bridge stores?
Whitney Stern Jewelry is comfortable, beautiful, edgy, and functional. The line featured in all Ben Bridge stores shows the most iconic style of my brand. This fashion fine jewelry line is modern and fresh, with a hint of sophistication and glamour. The additional pieces found at select stores and online are iconic and sentimental, offering unique versatility and beauty.
What kinds of women do you think are most drawn to your jewelry?
The Whitney Stern woman trusts her instincts. She is warm, classy, and enjoys the life she has created for herself! She is edgy, glamorous, and unique. She is open, honest, and loves feeling independent. She has high expectations of herself and the world around her. She follows her heart. She is inspired and empowers others in her daily life. She is comfortable in her own skin and feels alive and strong!
On your website you mention giving back to world communities. Can you elaborate on that?
Whitney Stern Jewelry Design supports a variety of philanthropic causes on the national level, ranging from women and children’s health to promoting cancer research and prevention awareness. We also support youth education, wellness, and hunger prevention initiatives.
Do you have a personal favorite piece?
My favorite piece is definitely my crescent moon necklace. It’s simple, elegant and organic at the same time. It’s perfect for everyday wear yet can be dressed up to pair with evening attire or any outfit. I also love our color collections and the sentimental addition of the “surprise diamond” we add to the pieces so each woman knows her piece is made special for her and brings her good luck! I’ve noticed that many customers respond well to these looks and stories behind the pieces they wear.
Your career has really taken off in the last year or two – where do you see this momentum taking you going forward?
Long term, I want my jewelry to tell a powerful story – to empower all women to feel beautiful. I want to show women that they have no ceiling, that they are not defined by any labels. I want to be a role model and show my customers that I have a concern and appreciation for the world around us; that the brand cares about a variety of causes. I am motivated to make a big impact through each creation in the long-term.
What is your vision for your jewelry designs as you move forward in your career?
To continue to offer unique jewelry that has the potential to become a lifestyle brand. To tell a story with each piece that means so much to the wearer because she understands the energy that was infused in its creation. To refine our look so each piece is recognizable as distinctly “WS”. I hope to improve my designs with each passing season and introduce new finishes, gemstones, and shapes to my collections!
Where can we learn more about you and your jewelry?
You can learn more about my jewelry on www.whitneystern.com and also by following me on social media – specifically Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I look forward to sharing the Ben Bridge Whitney Stern intro brand video that will soon be available for viewing online.