I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Brown this weekend. She is a jewelry designer living and creating her goods in NYC. We originally met at the Accessories Circuit show in NY at the Javits Center in August. What struck me about Rachel, besides the fact that she is incredibly kind and giving, is that her pieces are not only beautiful but also meaningful. Out of the whole show, she was the only designer who made jewelry that was not only pretty to wear but also passed on a positive message to its wearer. It was this greater meaning to her line that so intrigued me and led me to a path of speaking with her here, as well as wearing and shooting some of her pieces. My favorite is the simple gold ring you see below; it means “create miracle.” I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. To see more, please visit rachelbrownjewelry.com.AK: Where are you from?RB: I’m originally from Virginia, actually. I left Virginia to go to NYU and then just sort of stayed and became a New Yorker.AK: Where did your learn to make jewelry?RB: I didn’t learn in any formal way. I have always been a stylist and designer and creative type. I’ve always been good with my hands and figured it out on my own.I was originally majoring in computer science and accounting at NYU. I kept dropping my classes and almost failing out because I was so unhappy. I wasn’t taught to follow my dreams in my household growing up, but to do what I had to do to make money. I ended up switching my major to marketing, which was more palatable, and then I ended up going to business school.AK: And was going to business school a similar familial obligation that you felt the need to go?RB: Yes, I thought I would work on Wall Street but that didn’t end up happening. I am glad now though that I went to business school as now I have the background for business to help grow my line. I wouldn’t have had that otherwise.AK: when did you start your line?RB: Officially 8 years ago. I started by trying to get funding to get good pictures, and build a website, make samples, etc.My initial funding actually came from the Mohegan Sun Casino. This guy I was seeing at the time liked gambling and usually did well so we went to Mohegan Sun one day and we ended up winning $3K and 3 pairs of Jimmy Choos. I don’t remember the particulars of the winnings and why the shoes were involved but that is how I got the initial money to begin. AK: Ha! That’s an amazing story. Do you still have the shoes?RB: I actually have 2 pairs still! One pair didn’t last. And that was 8 years ago, since then I have just been doing piece by piece and building it through grass roots marketing.AK: have you had any other lines or worked on designing anything else before?I worked for David Yurman in sales and marketing, but not in design. I also worked at Christie’s auction house as I’m a gemologist. I tried to start my own lines: I had a fur coat for dog’s line; I started it for my Yorkie. I also did a couture dog accessories line, with fancy leashes and such, but I wasn’t able to get it off the ground. You really need funding to be successful right out of the gate, the first thing a potential customer wants is to see a website and how you present yourself.AK: what was the catalyst in your life that made you want to start Rachel Brown jewelry?RB: That’s a great question. It’s when I realized the pain of failing in pursuing my dream was much less than the pain of never going for my dream at all. At Yurman, I was helping David to build his dream and his empire, and I was asking myself, well what about me? What about my dream and what I want to do? When you work for someone else, you’re building their dreams and not yours. I kept seeing visions of my jewelry in my mind and I would cry at how I was not fulfilling that. I couldn’t live with myself and I needed to go down in my life knowing that I had tried. It felt like there was no other choice but to pursue it. Even if I failed, I would know I tried and be at peace with that.AK: have you always been a spiritual person? How did you find kabbalah and its messages?RB: Yes, I think I have. I’ve tried to be a spiritual person. I have always asked philosophical questions throughout my life, even before I found Kabbalah, I would ask “what is my purpose? Is this all there is? Why are we here? And because of all this, it led me to the Tarot. One of my many jobs, prior to starting my jewelry line was studying Tarot and reading cards for people, helping people through the cards to get answers. Kabbalah was just a higher form of that. Tarot is divided into the major and minor arcana, and the major arcana is made up of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet which is also part of Kabbalah. Kabbalah is the DNA of the universe. So there was a crossover there that opened up a whole new world to me.AK: where do you make your jewelry?RB: I have showroom and studio in midtown. I put together the pieces and concepts together and then my plater, polishers, engravers, etc. are all here. All my materials are from NY and made here.AK: what so far, has been your favorite moment with your jewelry? Was it a person wearing it that really impacted you or maybe it was getting into a certain store?RB: One of them is getting to Donna Karan and now having my jewelry being sold in her store, Urban Zen. The story with that is a very long one. I tried for so long to get through to her from the assistant of the assistant of the publicist and finally like 20 emails later I was permitted to drop things off to her office. I followed up on my initial emails to make sure she got it, and again, I wasn’t getting a response, and so I waited, and basically getting no answer for weeks until finally they got back to me and relayed that she had received the pieces, they were in her personal closet. I didn’t know what that meant, and analyzed it to death. As time went by, nothing happened from it, so I thought, I am going to ask for them back. So I sent an email saying I could use them back if she’s not interested. I received and email back saying you can pick them up, so I thought “Ok, fine. I’ll get them.” I believe in them so much that I don’t want them with someone who doesn’t love them, even if it is Donna Karan. A few days later, my writer friend was going to an event with Donna Karan at Urban Zen. She said to me, “I am going to interview her and I’ll bring your pieces to her to show her.” So I took the same pieces that I just picked up and wrote her a letter and then my friend took them to the event with her. Later that night, I got a call from my friend about how much Donna Karan had loved the pieces and how she was so touched by the letter I had written, that she was crying and asking “Why hadn’t she sent them to me or tried to get in touch?” Which, obviously I had and Donna had never seen them. Apparently, she put the bracelet on right away during the interview. I mean, it’s a miracle story really. That same night, Patrick McMullan was there and was able to get a picture of Donna Karan wearing the bracelet. Incredible! A few weeks later, Donna sent me a thank you letter in her own hand writing and had her head Creative Director come to my showroom and they ended up picking some pieces for the store. It was amazing but you know, any kind of success that has happened has been in this roundabout way and truthfully hard; lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and it hasn’t been easy. I’m still waiting and working towards a tipping point that brings to me to next level.AK: what was your initial goal when you first created your line, and now, how has that changed? what’s your ultimate goal for the growth of your line?RB: I want worldwide distribution with my website translated into multiple languages. I want people in South America, China, Portugual, everywhere to be able to buy my jewelry.I want a true marketing budget to really get my line out there as my own personal mission to spread the wisdom of Kabbalah. The jewelry is my medium. I want to share the amazing journey I have been on, and I share that through my jewelry. My next level would be opening boutiques in different cities and doing another level of my line with diamonds and gems, a true fine line of jewelry. The times we are living in now are trying and people need spirituality during these times. The pieces are tapping into the healing energy that people need. People need these spiritual messages that provide comfort. People wear things that look good but I think there is another element; I’m a fashionista and I love looking good but I like to incorporate that other aspect of spirituality into what I am wearing. It’s something else, not just the aesthetic value of it. That is what makes it special.AK: what advice would you give to a young designer starting out?RB: Follow your dreams and follow your heart no matter what. Whatever is your dream, even if you are in the midst of it and you end up somewhere else, you still wouldn’t have found that unless you had followed your dream and tried to pursue it. Don’t give up no matter what. In Kabbalah, they say things need to be concealed before they are revealed. So keep your process and business somewhat concealed until its manifested. Don’t let any negative energy dissuade you or negative influences from others get in the way. People will say its hard what you’re doing. But you know what? Everything is hard. What’s not a hard business? Just don’t listen to those voices and never give up.AK: have you had any mentors or people in your life that helped guide you through this process?RB: Not really…. I had some help with the business plan and the shark tank app, which I am not on yet; I never heard back. I have just been following my heart and my dream, assuming the rest will fall in place. One door opens at a time.AK: where is your happy place? Meaning, do you have a sacred space that you go to feel inspired or to quiet your mind?RB: In my bed, with my Yorkie and a glass of wine and the TV switching from channel to channel but not really watching anything. I also love walking into stores, seeing beautiful things, just walking in and out to feel inspired.AK: what is the biggest misconception you encounter with your line’s spiritual and religious nature?RB: It’s not religious, it’s spiritual. People see Hebrew letters and associate that with religion. Kabbalah is about one soul, unity, no fragmentation, and all being together. It’s in the oldest language known as Aramaic and transcends all religions. It shares the spiritual laws of the universe. Kabbalah is for everybody. All you have to do is look at the letters from right to left and when you scan them, you tap into that message, and then you receive it from the universe.