I must admit, I’ve been a fan of Luv Aj for a while. Creator and Designer Amanda Thomas always manages to give us unique, eclectic, wearable and uber fab pieces that we just HAVE to have. A favorite in celebrity and fashionista circles alike, Luv AJ accessories have quickly become a sought after commodity. Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Amanda on the history of the line, success as a jewelry designer and her must haves.
How long have you been designing jewelry and how did you get your start in the fashion industry?
When I was 14 years old, I used to intern for a jewelry designer on Abbot Kinney named Cory Madley. My parents would drop me off after school and on the weekends and I would help in her studio. She taught me how to do wire wrapping and gave me insight on running a small business. I just fell in love with it so I started buying chains and beads on my own, and going to flea markets and finding cool trinkets to mix and match on charm necklaces. I would always wear my own creations. One day when I was in Fred Segal, one of the jewelry buyers complimented my necklace and I told her I had made it. After setting up a meeting to show her my collection, Fred Segal picked up my line my Junior year of high school and the rest is history.
How did you create the name of your jewelry line…why Luv Aj?
The name Luv Aj actually came from how I used to sign all my cards and letters when I was little. My name is Amanda Jane so my family calls me AJ sometimes, and I used the sign everything “Luv Aj” so the name just sort of stuck.
What inspires you as a designer and what is your “creative process” ?
I am always inspired first and foremost by materials, and figuring out how to make something into a piece of jewelry. I love finding an awesome rock or crystal and figuring out how to make it into a pendant or a bracelet or something. Also, there’s nothing more that I love than hunting for cool chain or interesting vintage components and figuring out how to incorporate it into jewelry. I design with myself in mind, and what I want to wear, so that is usually first and foremost when drawing from inspiration.
Who are some of your favorite clothing and jewelry designers? Does their work influence what you do?
I tend to dress on the more minimal side- lots of blacks and neutrals but everything is ripped or studded. People make fun of me because I literally don’t own a shirt without some sort of rip or stain on it, but I love it! I love T by Alexander Wang tops, Helmut Lang torn-sweaters and structured blazers, leather leggings, and sky-high black Alexander Wang booties or Balenciaga combat boots. I think the Luv Aj aesthetic is similar in the sense that there are bad ass details to each piece but they are absolutely meant to be worn with chic neutral clothing.
How would you describe your line to people who have never seen it?
Luv Aj jewelry is a one part feminine and one part bad ass. I mix and match a lot of heavy chains, antiqued metals, interesting silhouettes like bodychains and handpieces, but there’s still always a chic and wearable quality to every piece. The collection has a wide range of pieces, some more daring and some that are really easy to integrate into your everyday wardrobe.
Why do you think your line has become so popular among celebrities and the public?
I think consumers and celebrities are so drawn to Luv Aj because every piece is a statement piece but still totally wearable. It’s just that extra something to spruce up any outfit, and all the styles have a real hand-made quality to them so people know they are getting a quality piece of jewelry.
What is your favorite part about being a designer and having your own business?
The hours. Granted, I work 7 days a week, but I make my own schedule and I cannot even say how rewarding that is. I can take a little break whenever I want, I can choose to move my hours around, and that is such a luxury. But the flipside is always having to be motivated and responsible to work when you need to, but Luv Aj is like my baby so it doesn’t even feel like work to me.
Do you prefer being an LA-based designer as opposed to being in NY?
I don’t really mind either way. I think LA designers might get a wrap for being more mainstream while NYC designers are known for being edgy, but I would like to think that Luv Aj has transcended that and appeals to both coasts.
How do you see the Luv Aj empire growing in the future?
My dream is to see Luv Aj expand into bags and shoes, and really be a recognizable brand across the world. I would love to get into leather goods, and if I ever was an expert in anything it’s shoes. My collection has been growing since high school, and every year I look forward to the one or two statement pairs I have to get. Creating my own statement shoe or bag would be pretty much my dream.
If you could create custom pieces for ANYONE who would it be and why?
I would LOVE to create custom pieces for Kate Moss. She’s the queen of cool and quite minimal on the accessories so if she ever work Luv Aj, I would literally die.
What are your top 5 must have fashion or beauty items?
Jewelry wise: Every girl should have a chunky cocktail ring- always great to dress up an outfit before going out, and a surprisingly good ice breaker if you’re on date. They should also have a statement bib necklace- a short and flat choker that works with anything from a tee shirt to a cocktail dress. And lastly, stackable rings- great for layering with your other jewelry and easy to wear everyday.
Beauty wise: I cannot leave the house with my eyelashes curled. Forget the mascara, it’s all about the Shu Uemura eyelash curler, it works wonder. Also, Rose Bud Salve for my lips. I’m a simple kind of chick so I like to be moisturized at all times.
**Thanks so much to the lovely Amanda for the interview: great woman and a great designer. If you haven’t already, check out the Luv Aj line and get to purchasing!
Additional Goodies–The Luv Aj summer mixtape is also available now for download…and it’s awesome.
Images courtesy of Post+Beam & Luv Aj