Laura Lombardi has designed a line of jewelry that is bold, outfit-making, and an essential part of our everyday uniform here at Kindred Black. We recently visited her Brooklyn-based studio to see the new collection, hear about her background and inspirations, and find out how she became the minimal meets statement jewelry guru that she is today.
Tell us a little bit about your background – where you grew up and some of your work experience before founding your own label in 2010.
I grew up in New York and spent a significant part of my upbringing in Italy. Art has always been a big part of my life. I spent a lot of time as a child going to the city's museums, making work, and being really immersed in the landscape and history of Tuscany where my family lives. I started studying art and design at FIT and SVA's pre college programs when I was 13, and went on to pursue internships with artists and galleries in high school. After a brief stint in college, I started making jewelry and shifted my focus from fine arts to design.
Your pieces are so old-school New York but at the same time there’s this amazing Italian quality to them that’s very glamorous and vintage Gucci-esque. How did growing up between New York and Italy and in a big Italian family affect your design sensibility?
Much of my aesthetic has developed and been informed by own attempts to resolve being raised in between two contrasting cultures. I grew up trying to understand how the culture, traditions, and history associated with my Tuscan identity fit in with my very different, more “immediate” life in New York. Focusing on the differences, but drawing parallels where I can, my work to me is a reflection of where these identities and histories intersect.
As a women owned and run small business, we’re always interested to hear other women’s experiences with doing their own thing. What have you found to be the best thing about running your own company?
I always knew I wanted to and would work for myself, I just didn’t know in what capacity. Starting the line came out of a need to create a space for myself and my ideas. Having had the ability to build this and have other people become involved through the jewelry and brand is the most fulfilling thing.
What are some of the challenges, especially when it comes to design that’s all made in the USA?
Costing! It’s important to me to keep our pricing accessible, which is definitely a challenge when manufacturing domestically.
Was the line being made in the USA important to you from the outset or was it just easier to start that way when you’re initially making very small runs?
I like building tangible relationships with the people and companies I work with. Manufacturing domestically has been important to me for that reason, as well as convenient for starting out with small runs. I’m really proud to support the same jewelry district that my parents worked in when I was growing up.
Any personal experiences or hang-ups of your own that have directed your jewelry design?
Essentially I just want to make things I want to wear, and that the people I love and admire want to wear. Relating to hang ups or experiences, the Curve Earrings are the first pair of earrings I’ve designed that I’ve been able to wear comfortably. They serve as somewhat of a fix for masking my gauged earlobes!
Your earrings are amazing for many reasons – they go with everything and can actually make a boring outfit pretty special, they’re so lightweight (even the big ones!) that you forget you’re wearing them. But they’re also incredibly affordable. Was this intentional – keeping the line accessible?
Absolutely, I really want to create pieces for everyone. Keeping a range of pricing hopefully allows for that.
Where are you drawing inspiration for this season?
My recent trip to Japan, my vintage Italian chain collection, the works of various photographers.
Do you have any family heirlooms or pieces of adornment that you cherish more than the rest – or a lucky talisman always with you?
I keep a lot of sentimental objects around me in the studio. Mainly family rosaries, collected stones, small trinkets given to me by friends and visitors, incense from Japan, etc.
What’s next? What are you looking forward to?
More traveling, more jewelry.