IRENE NEUWIRTH

NATALIA BONIFACCI MEETS IRENE NEUWIRTH ON A HOT AND SUNNY AFTERNOON. IT'S DECEMBER IN LOS ANGELES, AND IT SUDDENDLY FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS: THE CALIFORNIAN JEWELRY DESIGNER IS BUSY DECORATING A TREE AT HER NEW, AND FIRST, STORE. THE SPACE, AT 8458 MELROSE PLACE, WAS STUNNINGLY DESIGNED BY COMMUNE, THE 10 YEAR OLD L.A. BASED DESIGN COLLECTIVE. AS NEUWIRTH HANGS A FELT DEER ON THE TREE, SHE SHARES HER THOUGHTS AND INSPIRATIONS, GIVING NATALIA A PRIVATE PEEK INTO THE INTRICACIES OF HER WORLD

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Describe your brand in three words
Sophisticated, playful, forever.

When you were little what did you wanna be when you grew up?
I wanted to teach horseback riding.

You are now a jewelry designer,  how did you get into that?
I was teaching horseback riding and my parents told me “You have to get a job.” “Why?! This is my dream job!” “You make 9 thousand dollars a year. You need another one.” (she laughs). Anyway, as a hobby, I did jewelry. People would always stop me and ask me where I got my jewelry from. So I made ten beaded necklaces and I called Barney’s. I wrote them a note with a magic marker that said I hope you love it. They called me and they were my first account (the company was founded by Irene in 2003, with her business partner Tracy Stoll).

Which encounter was the most influential in your career?
There’s been so many, but I think, for me, it’s meeting my clients. To meet all these very strong, powerful and successful women who have built their own careers has been a really inspirational thing for me.

What’s the Irene Neuwirth kind of woman?
She has a strong sense of herself and she’s someone who likes to take risks. My jewelry is whimsical, you have to have some sort of sensibility to be drawn to it.  So, I’d say that the Irene Neuwirth kind of woman is a creative, strong woman who knows herself.

What current project are you excited about, I imagine it’s the store…
Yes. This is the only thing on my mind (she laughs). We worked on it for seven months,  but this was my dream forever and now, well, it was the right time. Everything came together organically and it’s been the most fun project.

It really represents you and it does feel like a home rather than like a store.
Thank you! I feel it really captures me. If you look at everything on Commune’s website (communedesign.com) is beautiful, they have impeccable taste, but everything looks very different from this. If you walk into my house or if you walk into my office, if you look at my jewelry: I think it all feels like this room. Also, I feel like, in general, jewelry stores are so intimidating to walk into, you feel like you can’t touch anything. We wanted to have the anti jewelry store experience.

What’s the quality you admire the most in people?
People’s ability to go for it.

Which one is the one you like the least?
Dishonesty.

What is the best quality about you and what is your biggest flaw?
I’m too passionate. I’d say it’s my best thing and my worst thing. I’m so emotional: I can get so excited and then so mad. If I express an emotion is big in whatever way it is.

If you were allowed to wear only one piece of jewelry for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s almost impossible! Well, I have a charm necklace, that I love. Something personal.

Which piece of jewelry do you think every woman should own?
A piece to layer: a long chain or a long stone necklace, something that you can put on with other things.

What’s your favorite part about your job and what do you like the least?
I love so much of it! The hardest thing? I can answer that more easily. Being a boss. I always want to be everybody’s buddy, so it’s hard for me to draw the line sometimes.

How do you get better at that? Do you get better at that?
I think so. What I learnt the most over time is how important delegating is. So if you surround yourself with really incredible people you succeed. I have the most amazing people around me: I feel very lucky.

I was wondering, do you ever get any jewelry as a gift?
No. People are afraid (she laughs).

Has your boyfriend ever given you any?
He’s petrified (we both laugh). I do have a pearl necklace he got me in St Barts like ten years ago though and I wore it all the time.

Do you buy jewelry ever for yourself?
No. I don’t know why though, I should. The funny thing is that I was never this “big jewelry person”: this just happened to be what I fell in love with doing.

What’s the sexiest quality in a woman?
Confidence.

What’s the sexiest quality in a man?
Sense of humor.

What can be the biggest turn off about a man?
Someone who is too full of himself.

What’s you favorite smell?
Rose.

What’s your favorite sound?
Waves.

What’s the next goal?
I just wants this to be wildly successful (she smiles in the cutest way).

You have the “happiness gap” in your smile! It’s so popular in fashion right now, any funny stories about it?
Not really, except my dentist yesterday trying to convince me to close it (she laughs).

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
To work hard and play hard.

If you were to be able to meet your fifteen year old self and give yourself a piece of advice, what would you tell yourself?
I think I’d say to not rush things, but not be afraid to put yourself out there.

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