At Work with Meredith Kahn

The first time I visited Meredith Kahn at the office of her jewelry company, Made Her Think, she had just given birth to her daughter, Grayson, and was sharing a space with her graphic artist hubby, Norman Rabinovich, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Fast forward three years and Kahn has moved to new digs on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and just given birth to the couple’s second child, a son named Asher.

“I started my business out of my home eight years ago,” recalled Meredith when I stopped by to see her earlier this month. “Then I migrated into an office in Williamsburg with Norman, which was great, but eventually I wanted my own place. I don’t manufacture in-house – everything is done in Manhattan – so there’s a lot of running around. We do everything else in-house – sales, press – so in terms of getting everyone out there, it’s a nice concept in theory but in reality, people don’t come [to Brooklyn] at the rate that they come here.”

Of course, Meredith (who studied fashion design at FIT and designed clothing for Old Navy before launching Made Her Think) gives press and buyers ample reason to visit, what with her gorgeous rock-chic jewelry collection – inspired, this season, by the idea of “fight or flight” – her brand-new men’s collection, Dress Homme (designed in collaboration with her husband), and a recently launched handbag range, which features scrumptious leather satchels with cool heavy metal hardware.

“I actually started off making leather goods,” said the willowy brunette, who was seated at a large table in the center of her office wearing a black leather jacket layered over a vintage green Army coat, accessorized with turquoise nails and multiple rings, necklaces, and earrings of her own design. Surrounding her were cases filled with MHT jewelry and bags, lookbooks from seasons’ past, inspiration boards for upcoming collections, and photos of her family.

In addition to collaborating on runway pieces for designers Rebecca Minkoff, Kimberly Ovitz, Tim Hamilton, and Mandy Coon, Meredith revisited her fashion design roots this past spring through a project with Resin, embellishing jeans and denim pieces with her signature downtown details (such as a metal spine down the back of a denim jacket). “It’s really cute, really fun, and very wearable,” she said. “That was the most important thing to me. I didn’t want it to look contrived, uncomfortable or like an art piece. Because I’m definitely a creature of comfort.”

That’s also true of Made Her Think jewelry, which can sometimes look slightly left-of-center – long tusk earrings, chunky gauntlet knuckle rings joined by delicate chains – but are always very comfortable to wear. The aforementioned Fight or Flight collection features rugged-refined cage cuffs, smashed talon pendants and small claw earrings, while Collection 15 (dubbed Everything is Sacred) boasts more intricate, Turkish-inspired diamond and filigree pieces that still manage to make a major style statement.

When it comes to office life, Meredith’s motto is “work smarter, not harder,” a refrain she often repeats to her three-person team and army of interns. The designer’s days can involve anything from “digging through my books and sales records, doing lots of research and strategic planning” to countless hours spent creating designs and concepts for future collections.

As Meredith describes it, an average day begins with her and Norman (who co-owns The International Office of Design & Communication ) dropping Grayson off at nursery school while a nanny arrives to watch Asher. The couple commutes into Manhattan together and, once at the office, Meredith checks her email, confers with her staff (“we have a weekly agenda meeting to review everything going on that week”) and breaks for lunch between noon and 1PM. Fave lunch spots include Balthazar, The Meatball Shop, or Whole Foods for pizza, hot foods, and veggies (“I really like a kid’s menu,” she laughs.) Then it’s back to work until 5-ish, at which point she hops on the train and heads back home for family time. After dinner and the kids’ baths, she reads Grayson three bedtime stories (current favorites include “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a much-loved book about berry fairies), then Meredith and Norman take turns staying up with three-month-old Asher, who’s not yet sleeping through the night.

“Sometimes I watch really interesting documentaries or old movies on television,” she says. “I watched ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ last night while he wasn’t sleeping. So there are lots of things that are nice surprises.”

And who knows? Sleep deprivation aside, some of those nice surprises may wind up inspiring the next Made Her Think collection.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.


November 7, 2011