Jewelry designer Rachel Leigh knows the meaning of “risky business.” Leaving an established career as a publicist at Yves Saint Laurent, Leigh struck out on her own after a piece she had made for her mother was discovered by Lucky Magazine editors. After her piece was critically well-received, Leigh took a leap of faith into the unknown. Her faith in herself and her eye for unique design has paid off. With a jewelry line now sold in 300 stores, Leigh’s life has accelerated exponentially. In this 5 Minutes With feature, Leigh shares with us a few of her personal favorites and the tale of her surprising career trajectory.
How did you start out in the industry?
As a publicist at Yves Saint Laurent, I had the unique opportunity of interacting with the top women’s and men’s fashion editors. The Lucky Magazine editors came into the YSL showroom for an appointment and saw me wearing a ring that I had made for my mom’s birthday (I figured I would give it a test run before gifting it to her). They loved the ring and proceeded to borrow it to show to their director. The next thing I knew, they were featuring me as “One to Watch” – a profile on up-and-coming designers. The feature ran a few months later and an unsolicited feature in Daily Candy immediately followed. The features garnered a tremendous amount of interest from customers, buyers, and editors wanting more of this product and brand that wasn’t yet available to the general public. It was one of those moments where I had to make the decision to take the risk and leave the job I loved and try to be a jewelry designer and entrepreneur or never know the potential of the opportunity. As someone with no proper design background and no knowledge of the jewelry or wholesale business, it was a tremendous risk but instinctively I knew it was something I was willing to tackle and I thought I could be successful. I left YSL, set up shop in my living room, hand-making everything from my coffee table, and that was seven years ago. We are now sold in over 300 stores worldwide and I have a very talented team that supports me.
Which piece from your FW11 collection is your favorite and are you proudest of?
The pieces you can currently find me wearing everyday are the Singita necklace, Singita Crystal Friendship bracelet, and the Adorned Round studs. I have always been a ‘classic stud girl’ but the oversized Adorned Round studs have replaced that simple look and still feel both everyday and polished. For evening I’m usually found wearing the Primrose Regal drops or the Adorned Multi-Stone bib (never two large pieces at once!).
What is the most precious piece of jewelry you own?
My engagement ring – designed in collaboration with myself, my husband and my mentor (a highly respected and well-known fine jewelry designer). It is a labor of love and the most unique and special ring I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of a bow.
Who would be your dream client?
If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you be doing instead?
How do you relax after a hectic day?
Playing with my 4 month old son Griffin.
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
Mickey Drexler and Chris Burch.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite jewelry designer?
If money were no object…
Chanel, Lanvin, and Valentino oh my!
Rachel Leigh is available exclusively in the United Arab Emirates at Marami, The Dubai Mall. Tel: +971 4 434 3536