AMANDA THOMAS

NATALIA BONIFACCI MEETS AMANDA THOMAS, THE DESIGNER BEHIND THE JEWELRY LINE LUV AJ. HER LINE WAS LAUNCHED WHEN SHE WAS ONLY SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. LAST DECEMBER, AT 27, THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE WAS INCLUDED IN THE 30 UNDER 30 FORBES LIST. THOMAS AND BONIFACCI MEET IN LOS ANGELES JUST BEFORE THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS. THEY CHAT IN THE BACKYARD OF THE STUDIO SHE SHARES WITH HER NEWLYWED HUSBAND, PAT MONAHAN, THE BEATING HEART OF THE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL LINE PRIVATE PARTY. AMANDA IS SOFT SPOKEN, DIRECT, CLEAR AND SUCH A BEAUTY. FOR REDMILK SHE SHARES THE STORY OF HER CAREER, HER THOUGHTS ON JEWELRY AND ON A FEW OTHER LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

Natalia meets_2

What current project are you excited about?
I just started working with a bathing suit line called Beach Riot. They came to me. They wanted to do a collaboration, so we started thinking how to mesh jewelry and swimwear together. The swimsuits are coming out for Spring next year. We just shot them, they are so cool, I’ll show you the pictures.

Can you get them wet?
Yes, you can (we both laugh). I had to work with my factory. For this collaboration they plate and coat my designs in a way that they don’t rust and they don’t get hot, so they don’t burn you. They are really cute.

You were super young when you started the line, sixteen, right? How did that happen?
My parents are both entrepreneurs, so they always encouraged me to explore my interests if I had them. I had so many different ones growing up, so I would play around with them. At one point I started doing jewelry. My friends were wearing my pieces in high-school and when prom came around, I made jewelry for everyone. It’s like a cliché story! I was reading one of your stories with another jewelry designer on RedMilk and it’s so similar to mine. At one point I ran into a buyer from Fred Segal. I used to shop there because I am from LA.

The buyer was like “I love your necklace, where did you get it from?” and I told her I had made it. She invited me to come back for a meeting, so I worked on developing a collection. I came back to her with fifty pieces and they bought everything. Right then they were like “What’s your line called?”. I used to sign everything Luv AJ, because my name is Amanda Jane, so when you’re 16 writing the word Love as Luv seemed really cool (she laughs), you know? That’s how I got my name. I started in Fred Segal and I got really confident.

“If I can be in Fred Segal, I can be anywhere!” I thought. So I started going to all these LA stores: Madison, Ron Herman, Kitson… I would just go in and ask to see the buyer. I had made a look-book and I’d show them my look-book. Most of them thought I was so cute and precocious for even coming in, so a lot of them either put me on consignment or placed small orders, but it started to snowball.

When was the moment you realized it had become an actual job?
On my senior year Elle magazine did a whole write up on me called One To Watch. They did a whole thing about my website and my jewelry. That’s when it really started “Oh, shoot, I could do this as a career!”

What’s the LUV AJ kind of woman?
I feel I’m the Luv AJ girl, obviously, because I make it, but I think what makes a Luv AJ girl is, you know… She’s confident. She likes tougher edgier accessories, but nothing too bold. It’s stuff you can wear every day. They are just little accents where it shows that you have style and shows that you have an edge, but it’s not too much in your face. Also I’m busy. I like to wake up and put my uniform on: I put pants on, a sweater and my boots. I don’t like to think about it too much, so that’s how I want my accessories to feel like as well. I want my daytime pieces to never come off and I want my nighttime pieces to be a no-brainer. I try to create pieces that are classic enough, but that also have some sort of unique detail that makes it Luv AJ.

Do you ever get jewelry as a gift from people?
No, never, no way (she laughs). No one would even dare. The only person that’s got me jewelry is my husband, but that’s because they are diamonds, that’s different since my line is custom jewelry, but that’s it.

What about your engagement ring, am I wrong or did I read somewhere that you actually designed it yourself?
So… I mean… He was like “Hey, this is coming up and I don’t want to fuck it up, so can you help me?” I had told him before “I totally respect you want to make it a surprise, but at the end of the day it’s a big investment and it would be so shitty if I didn’t like it.” (she smiles) I think it’s a modern thing for the girl to help design the engagement ring and pick it. I don’t think it takes away from the experience of getting engaged, I think it makes it better. It’s kinda cool. Marriage is you and another person becoming one, your ring is a symbol of that, so why not do it together? I knew what I wanted, so I literally made a tech pack, what you submit to factories. I had all the measurements, all the dimensions, color, size, so there was no grey area. They couldn’t mess it up “So here, you take this, I’m gonna come in once and explain it and you got it from here.” That’s how my ring came about, but he did surprise me when he proposed. I had no idea.

How did he do it?
I had a Luv AJ party to launch a line I did with Stone Cold Fox. It wasn’t weird that my family was there, but I thought it was sweet that my little brother came, Pat’s mom came and other relatives did too. I thought how everyone was being so nice and supportive of my work by showing up. And then he proposed and I understood “Oh, ok, it makes sense now…” (she laughs).

What piece of jewelry do you think every woman should own?
A great pair of  earrings. When people talk to you they are looking at your face and it’s the first thing they see. I think earrings say a lot about you whether they are little or big. When I design that’s the one category I feel the most inspired by.

You were included in the latest 30 under 30 Forbes list. How did that feel?
How crazy is this: they called me last December, the morning of my wedding. I got the phone call and I told them “This is the most amazing news, I’m getting married today! This is the greatest day ever!” I feel it came at a funny point. I guess I was feeling like I peaked a couple of years ago. Maybe I had more confidence back then, I’m not sure. So I was really happy to get it because I was at a time where I wasn’t feeling super confident. I wasn’t feeling I was doing enough or doing the best that I can. It was a really nice validation, it made me think “Ok, maybe I am.” (she smiles).

Now you share your office with your husband (she laughs), how is that? You guys just moved into the new space
Yes. We share a studio now. When we first met he was a music producer. When we started dating two and a half years ago I was super busy all the time. I would tell him “If you want to hang out  with me you gotta come to my office while I finish packing these orders, because I can’t go out unless they are done…” He was so sweet: he would leave his office at 4.30 PM and come to my office and then help me and my girls pack everything up. Then we would go to dinner. Because of that he was around that small business e-commerce work environment. He always had ideas about doing sweatshirts, he would always come up with all these funny slogans for them. At one point he told me he wanted to start a sweatshirt line and he ended up following through with it. I think it was right place, the right time and right idea and he branded it very well. Beyonce dropped her album overnight about a year ago, Drunk in love, so he did a sweatshirt that said I Woke Up Like This, black sweatshirt, white text. She didn’t have the trademark for it. He got the trade mark and put it on a sweatshirt and it went viral on Instagram. When Khloé Kardashian wore it and tagged him, it went crazy. He started working out of my garage, and I would work out of my office. It happened organically. I already had all the resources set up to run a business, he plugged into that and now he so far exceeded me: he has like ten times more orders than me, he needs ten times more space, all these employes. He’s grown so big that literally he had to get all this space. We just moved here. It’s nice.

What’s the best quality about you and what’s your biggest flaw?
I’m a confident person. When you run your own company you are faced everyday with decisions. If you’re really doubtful you are not gonna get anywhere unless you make those decisions to move forward. I think that’s been helpful in terms of being able to get where I am today. Worst quality? I can be harsh. If someone does something wrong to me I’m done, I cut them off. You know, I think I am nice, but I am not as sweet and soft as I’d like to be. That is something I need to work on.

What’s the sexiest quality in a woman?
I think the sexiest quality in a woman is not giving a fuck. I look at Rihanna: the reason why she is so cool is that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care what people think about her. She does whatever she wants. She wears whatever she wants. And the joke is that everyone wants to be like her. I think when you don’t care about the negative things people say about you, it only makes you cooler.

And in a man?
Generosity. I think a sweet kind generous man is so sexy. Men are naturally stronger and more dominating at times and I think it’s very sexy when they can be also very sweet.

What can be the biggest turnoff in a man?
Unwanted cockiness. There’s no reason why they should be that cocky, it’s gross. It usually means they are insecure.

What’s the quality you admire the most in people?
I would say grace. When people extend grace to me it really means a lot.

Which one do you like the least?
Ignorance. When people say things without doing their research or without knowing the whole story that shit drives me crazy. I hate it.

Do you have a motto?
Work Smart, Not Hard. I think you can have fun, be social, lay on the couch and watch TV and still be a very productive person. I think it’s important to take time for yourself for your own sanity and your own creativity. I learnt that. Sometimes you see people that are so stressed out, so overworked, never sleeping and waking up early and going to bed late. My personal sanity is key for me to run my company. It’s a matter of balance. If I am really busy, I might work during the weekends, but I’ll make sure to have dinner with a friend and not talk about work. Or go to Soul Cycle for an hour, or go get a facial. Just an hour, I think that’s important.

Instagram: @luvaj
Sito: www.luvaj.com

Natalia meets_1