Designer Anita Ko has been in the jewelry business for over a decade, accumulating a cult following, a roster of celebrity clients and an abundance of business acumen. We sat down to get her insights on everything from nailing the coveted layered jewelry look to how to switch careers and grow a company. Here's what she had to say.
Courtesy of Anita Ko
You initially designed handbags but transitioned to jewelry design, launching your namesake collection almost a decade after launching your handbag line. What is your advice for someone looking to make a career transition and making that project last?
"My biggest piece of advice is to follow your heart and to do what you love. There will be so much blood, sweat and tears that if you don’t love what you're doing, you will quit. It takes years to grow a business, and the smartest advice that I can give is to get up when you want to quit and to move forward even if you don't think success is around the corner. Don't beat yourself up when you make mistakes; learn from them. Have fun along the way, have a sense of humor and create a product that you 100% stand behind."
Many people believe in the spiritual properties of jewelry. Do you, and how does it impact your design process?
"Living in Los Angeles, the amazing lifestyle here definitely influences my designs and is a huge part of my identity. I think people have a deep spiritual connection to jewelry—the elements of gold and the energy of stones affect our day-to-day lives without us even knowing it. The reason we are attracted to jewelry is the energy, the sparkle and the life it emits. To that end, it's important to me that the stones are sourced ethically. I want positive energy to continue in the growth of my pieces, and knowing that no one was hurt in the development process is extremely important to me."
What is your insider tip for stacking jewelry?
"The thing I love about designing jewelry is that every woman has a different style and will wear it in a different way. Jewelry always conveys individuality. Right now, I'm partial to a layered ear. Mixing different types of earrings and ear cuffs makes for a more dynamic story."
What's the best way to stack rings?
"When it comes to rings, balancing a stack is crucial. Adding a pop of color and stacking similar rings creates interesting lines and dimensions. I love a good pinky ring, and I like the idea of stacking up a ring and pinky finger on the same hand."
What are two ways to nail a celebrity jewelry look?
"Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is no stranger to jewelry mixing and layers our choker and long lariat—it's sexy for day or night. Emma Stone is adept at making a stacked ear look polished by keeping every individual item dainty."