At Work With Jennifer Fisher

Jennifer Fisher epitomizes California cool: tousled sun-kissed tresses, vintage rock tees, sexy leather pants, sky-high Louboutins and heaps of edgy-elegant jewelry. So it’s a jolt to meet the stylish Santa Barbara native (who studied business at USC) in the heart of chilly New York City, where she runs her eponymous jewelry label from a well-appointed office-cum-showroom in SoHo.

Fisher came up during Cali’s punk rock scene in the eighties and was a successful fashion stylist (working on countless commercials, Propaganda Films music videos, and the Aaron Spelling series Sunset Beach) before moving to the East Coast in the late nineties after meeting her husband, Kevin, who works in finance.

Her jewelry company began by accident in 2005, after she designed a necklace to celebrate the birth of her first child (doctors had advised Fisher, who’d undergone chemotherapy to treat a desmoid tumor, not to get pregnant – which she did after several attempts using a surrogate didn’t work out).

“I ended up having Shane, my son, naturally on my own after all this, against all of my doctor’s wishes,” Jennifer recalled with a smile while curled up with a cup of tea on the black leather sofa in her loft-like showroom. “And when I had him I couldn’t find a piece of jewelry that I thought was significant enough and represented my style – something I could wear daily with his name on it that wasn’t a disc with a single initial or mass-produced that everybody in the world had. I wanted something different.”

The result: a sexy gold dog tag on a long, heavy chain that was an instant hit with Fisher’s oh-so-stylish friends, who wanted one for themselves. “People started asking me, ‘Where can I get that? And it has your kid’s full name on it, how do you do that?’ I said, ‘Oh I’ll make you one.’ I was still styling at the time, but that didn’t last very long because it just started to snowball. Oh, can you make this shape? [I thought] people need this – you know, a high-end piece of jewelry that actually makes some sort of a fashion statement and has personal meaning to it.”

Fast-forward seven years, and Jennifer Fisher now heads an uber-successful jewelry company that offers her signature tough-luxe dog tags, charms, and chains, along with a full range of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings in a variety of metals (yellow gold, rose gold, white gold) and stones. The line has been featured in every magazine imaginable and worn by every celebrity imaginable (including Zoë Saldaña, Julianna Margulies, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Christina Applegate, Charlize Theron, Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Watts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosamund Pike, Mary J. Blige, Rosario Dawson, Kim Kardashian, and … need I go on?). And Jennifer and her hubby have since had a daughter, Drew, who’s now five.

“I always have ideas from people I see on the street, things that I read in magazines, art, travel, nature – anything,” Jennifer said when asked what inspires her. She loves skulls and was wearing a diamond-studded panther skull ring and a newly designed Band-Aid ring (which looks just like it sounds) in rose gold, along with what looks to be a hundred other bits and bobs (this is a woman who really does wear rings on her fingers and bells on her toes). The designer recently added lower-priced brass pieces to the mix, and does a sterling silver collection for teens under the name Fawn by Jennifer Fisher. And all of it is made in America – “Which keeps my price point high, but I like having it made in the United States,” said Jennifer, who is going in a “much more clean and geometric” direction for spring. And, oh yeah, she also designs a collection of fur called Wyler as well, and is hard at work on a line of sunglasses, which are currently in the prototype stage.

Her typical day begins with “the mom thing” – getting the kids off to school in Tribeca and she’s at her desk by 8:30 or 9AM “trying to design and draw and also run everything else that’s going on…” Jennifer and her team usually order lunch in from Hampton Chutney and, on nights when she isn’t meeting editors or clients for drinks, she heads home around 5 or 6 – reserving three or four nights a week for family time – after which she unwinds by watching “really bad TV” (Millionaire Matchmaker is a current fave).

The designer is interrupted by the arrival of 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski (aka, Jenna Maroney), who’s come to pick up some jewelry (“Don’t worry, I won’t take too long. I know exactly what I want!” the leggy blond actress called out en route to cases filled with to-die-for pearl and diamond-studded trinkets).

So what is it that she loves about Jennifer Fisher jewelry?

“I think there’s an element of sexiness to everything she makes, which I like,” Jane said with a mischievous grin. “It’s hip, New York, sexy – and I like how she’s made sexy jewelry for moms, too.” She gestured toward Jennifer, who was standing beside a jewelry case in her brown leather pants, towering Louboutin platforms and glittering gold finery, looking like a gorgeous – and, yes, sexy – rock goddess. “Really, we all just want to look like her so that’s why we’re wearing the jewelry.”

Truer words were never spoken.

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

January 10, 2012