Designers Jess and Jen of Elliot Young, founded Elliot Young with the goal of positively impacting crises that target youth of today. In addition to donating a percentage of their proceeds, they created a platform for others to give back as well. They partner and donate to schools, youth sports teams, clubs and sororities, and individuals, teaming up one on one with people like us that would like to see change. Elliot Young Impact Program.
When did you first become interested in fashion?
Jess: I always loved getting dressed up and watching fashion shows ever since I was a teenager. And I have loved making jewelry since I was a little girl. When I figured out that I could actually make a career out of it, it was thrilling.
Jen: When I was young, I used to draw evening gowns and accessorize my drawings with jewelry. My father is an artist, so I picked up my creativity from him and my mom was a fashionista, so fashion was always a part of my life. I don’t think I really had a choice and I wouldn’t change anything!
What inspired you to start your own collection? How did you start your line?
Jess: I always loved working with my hands. I started making jewelry when I was a kid and did it for fun in my 20’s. Mostly beaded pieces. I took a class in lost wax casting at UCLA extension for fun in my late 20’s and started carving my own waxes and casting large sterling pendants and belt buckles. Sterling silver was about $5/ounce back then so it was really fun making pieces without worrying about cost. I was waiting tables at the time, helping to support my acting career, and started wearing pieces to work. Soon my customers were asking me to buy the pieces off my neck. Shortly thereafter, I started making more money selling the jewelry during my shift than waiting tables. So I decided to quit the restaurant job and make the jewelry a real job. It took off immediately as my brand Jessica Elliot, and I’ve been doing it and loving it ever since.
Jen: In 1998, I started working for Nordstrom in college and worked in the accessories division. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be in this industry. I moved to the Jewelry category as a buyer and quickly became influenced by many of the amazing Jewelry Designers I worked with. For two decades, I had an opportunity to partner with them on exclusive designs. In many cases, I would go to their headquarters and work with them and their design teams to come up with new product that I knew our customers would gravitate towards. This was definitely my strength and I could apply the art of design with my analytical side. I was getting the best design education directly from major jewelry designers themselves. After 18 years at Nordstrom, I began working with designers directly to learn the other side of the business in more detail. I knew I wanted to create my own jewelry line, even if it was just for another creative outlet. I’m a big believer in “do what you love, love what you do”. I have to be passionate about what I do so I can give it my all and this is definitely a passion, including our ability to make an impact on children’s lives while we create. I’m so grateful and fulfilled by what we are doing today.
Both Jen + Jess about starting together: We met in 2006 at an Accessories Trade Show in New York City. I (Jennifer), the Designer Jewelry Buyer for Nordstrom was looking for unique product and crossed paths with Jessica, a Jewelry designer, who at the time had a line of beautiful Sterling vintage keys. These keys turned into a best-selling item, and from there we created a special partnership and friendship that evolved over many years. We remained close friends after our department store years, bonding over our careers, children and similar work ethic. Our friendship and partnership was always effortless and fun. And although we only saw each other once or twice a year living in different cities, we always kept in touch and up to date on each other’s lives. Fast forward about 13 or so years, where we have come full circle to join forces! We each wanted to work with someone that had a like minded entrepreneurship spirit with the same passion and goals. The jewelry industry has evolved so much and both of us wanted to create quality product that’s modern, accessible and impactful. Naturally, we called it Elliot Young.
What challenges did you face getting the line off the ground?
Because we are so new, the most challenging part getting our line off the ground has been the pandemic. We solidified our business model of giving back and working directly with charities/schools/etc. to raise money for child and youth crises in late 2019, and were primarily going to be event based as well as direct to consumer through our online channel. We had events/pop-ups/Galas/etc scheduled for 2020 from March-September, but they all had to be cancelled. So we’re mainly online focused now, which isn’t a terrible thing, but no one should ever put their eggs all in one basket. Additionally, production during COVID has been challenging. Everything takes longer, and new development is tricky because of the shorter building hours in downtown Los Angeles, as well as smaller staff at most of our casters and suppliers. We’ve had to build this aspect into our lead times and pivot accordingly, but again these are all great learning opportunities at the same time.
Tell us about your latest collection.
Our latest collection launching for Fall 2020 is an ode to the “healing crystal”, but fully in our aesthetic of two tone metals with diamonds and precious stones. Now more than ever, people need “healing” and we wanted it to be more unique with an elevated vibe vs just a crystal on a leather necklace. Because it’s in metal, it looks edgy and sophisticated. We’re launching it in different colors with yellow gold, rose gold, sterling silver and outside of diamonds, we’ve got rubies, sapphires and emeralds that make it pop even more!
We are acutely aware of many youth crises affecting children today including, but not limited to, child abuse, trafficking, hunger, health challenges, homelessness, education, and the environment. We team with charities that advocate for, support, and empower our youth in these areas. In our effort to give back to our local community, we partner with them to design and produce our product in Los Angeles, CA. And in order to make a difference for our children, we donate a percentage of all sales to charities that will help them have a brighter future.