The moment I slid Joomi Lim's spiked ring on my finger, I was a fan. To this day it's the one piece of jewelry (besides my nose ring) that people frequently question. It makes sense--it's questionably dangerous and definitely unique, but the one thing that isn't questionable is how cool I feel when I wear it. And if you're close to me, you know I'm not that cool... So this ring is a big deal.
I was thrilled to sit down with Joomi and Xavier (her husband and business partner) to hear about their background, business, and life in New York City. We've also established some mutual friends like Alice Ritter (story here) and Yurika Nakazono (story here) so it was great to finally meet in person. Joomi was born in Korea and moved to the LA. at 16, starting her jewelry design career at a young age.
As she explained, "My background is in... well I'm pretty much self taught. I started to make jewelry when I was around 20 years old working for Nordstrom as a sales person in the Fashion Jewelry department. One day the buyer asked me about a pair of earrings I was wearing. They were my design, and she ended up writing an order for the whole region. They sold really well!"After working for Nordstrom, Joomi moved to NYC to manage the MAC Cosmetics flagship. While she enjoyed her initial move to NYC, she ultimately returned back to LA to kickstart her first company, Joomi Jewels. Her Nordstrom and MAC friends, who had since become buyers and stylists, provided her with strong business connections for the brand. This accessory and clothing business grew tremendously and lasted about six years.
After September Joomi sold her share of Joomi Jewels. She then moved to New York for the second (and final) time, working in design for Victoria's Secret activewear. Shortly after moving to NYC, Joomi met her husband Xavier at a furniture store in Willamsburg (I mean...talk about a way to meet your future husband...). Xavier remembers their first meeting well, "I was visiting from Paris when I saw her in the store and mid conversation said, in my best French accent, 'I'm sorry, can you repeat yourself?'"
Joomi, a lover of French culture, responded favorably to the newly introduced character and accent. Trips to Paris and multiple dates later and the couple were life and business partners, launching Joomi Lim in 2009."Things started slow due to the market crash, but we were very fortunate to pick up a couple of really great accounts, two of which included Opening Ceremony and Bergdorf. This placement was great PR for us because buyers visiting New York from other stores would always stop by Bergdorf and Opening Ceremony to see the latest brands. We started getting a lot of phone calls and began selling to some of the top retail outlets worldwide," said Joomi.The unique Joomi Lim collections are produced in the US (mainly New York). One thing to note is the signature spike--a spike with a visible screw back that is very native to the brand. The jewelry is brass based and plated in gold, silver, titanium, etc. Since plating eventually rubs off, Joomi Lim takes the extra step, and dollars, to use additional coating that lasts longer."What's interesting for me is that Joomi sees the spikes from a fashion perspective, while I [with an industrial design background] see them from a psychological standpoint. The world is quite an aggressive place and wearing our jewelry is representative of wearing armor--it signifies the strength to protect yourself," noted Xavier.I thought this was an interesting perspective on the jewelry, and one very relevant to New York City life, where armor is more than necessary... The couple plans to keep residence in Chelsea for quite a while, explaining the positive effect it's had on their business and personal lives. While the company is experiencing growing pains, it seems the couple is a force to be reckoned with. I certainly wouldn't risk the wrath of a spiked ring or necklace...unless I'm wearing it of course.As a final note, I highly recommend following the Joomi Lim on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (my favorite). And, of course, you can browse and shop here.