We sit down with Aleksandra Alekhina of Jolie Jewelry to discuss everything from diamonds, family, her jewelry line and how she is establishing her popular Russian brand in the USA.
How long have you been designing jewelry?
More than 3 years. I started by helping my friend’s husband who had a jewelry store with diamonds, opals, and golds. He asked my friend to make a silver line for his store and I decided to help her. Together, the three of us made a jewelry brand but it was not Jolie. After a year of work my friend decided that she wanted to work alone and left the brand. She told me to make a new brand. It was a horrible situation because I was with a lot of jewelry that was not my brand. That was the beginning of Jolie. My husband encouraged me not to worry because we could start something new. This was the start of Jolie Jewelry.
Why did you move to Los Angeles?
I moved to Los Angeles because of our special needs son. He has autism. In Russia, there is no way to be comfortable with autistic kids because doctors are not specializing in this field. In Russia at age 5, they can get a disabled ticket, which limits them from going to school. There are no opportunities. It is not possible for him to go to a normal school and it is nearly impossible to find services to help him. My family and I traveled to Yale University and they gave us the diagnosis. The doctors told us that if we wanted to see a change in his life that it was necessary for us to go to New Jersey or California. That’s how we ended up in Beverly Hills. Now that I am here, I am starting over with jewelry because people don’t know me here in the way that they know me in Russia. I have to reestablish myself.
Who do you design for?
I’ve worked with women for 15 years. 90% of the women that are my clients want change and do not want to wait for an occasion for a man to give them a gift. They are independent women who want to and are able to provide for themselves. My goal is to have women come back season after season to continually buy from me and so far that has been the case. These women are the women who are very social and attend events regularly.
After working in fashion and hairstyling, what is it about jewelry that made you want to pursue a full career in it?
When I was a stylist, I had a very easy time finding my clients clothes and shoes but it was difficult for me to find jewelry like earrings that were unique for events. What I did was found rings and stones and then sold them to my clients. My husband asked me “What are you doing? This is not a business. You have the potential to do it yourself and can make more money from designing your own and then selling them.” I first started by making sparkly earrings that were light. Therefore, my clients could wear them all night long without feeling like they were weighing them down. They loved that I was making jewelry.
How is the jewelry industry different in Russia than Los Angeles, America
In Moscow, you need a license to sell silver because you are only legally allowed to sell steel and brass. Therefore, I got a license from every seller I was working with and I was the only brand in the beauty salons that was selling silver. My prices were very reasonable compared to the brass and steel jewelry so it was a great start for me. I have my jewelry in 50 beauty salons in Moscow.
When I came here and saw what kind of jewelry everybody does here, I was pretty surprised. The first thing I was surprised about was that my jewelry was so different. When I started in Moscow, after 4 or 5 months, I thought that all designs were done and everybody sold jewelry because all my friends were selling silver and were designers. I didn’t think I needed to be in the market because there were a lot of others like me. In the USA, the Chinese market is pretty big which makes it hard. Women, to my surprise, buy a lot of cheap things. I saw that my prices were actually pretty reasonable considering my jewelry in silver and it looks a lot better. I have stayed positive and focused on my work. I think the next line will be a lot more casual because I already have a lot of glamorous earrings etc. in my current line.
What is next for Jolie Jewelry?
The next collection will be very light, transformative jewelry. I made a lot of earrings that you can wear two or three different ways. You can wear as a stud or as a long earring or with tassels. I want to make jewelry that will help support research for Autism. I want to pair up to help an individual or two and see the changes in their life. I know a lot of moms who send me messages on Instagram and Facebook about my son. They are asking me about what is happening in LA and how the changes are helping my son. I want to help raise awareness to make it easier for other moms in Moscow that aren’t in California who do not have the resources that I have. I want to be able to help with their symptoms so I can help with their sons and daughters. The doctor at Yale told me that in Moscow the doctors don’t know because they aren’t specialist. In Russia, we are at least ten years behind so I want to help educate people back home.
In Moscow, I never had time to be a mom but here I love that I have time to be a mom. I can use the Internet as an outlet to sell and can sell things online. I used to think it was going to be too hard to control. I have a camera; I know what happens, I have a manager that I can trust in Moscow. We have to control the money.
You can find Jolie Jewelry at IceLink, 666 North Kilkea Drive located next to Fred Segal on Melrose. Or shop online at joliejewelry.co.