From Lawyer To Fine Jewelry Designer; Jemily Founder Talks Meaningful Gems

From Lawyer To Fine Jewelry Designer;

Jemily Founder Talks Meaningful Gems

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Upon introduction, you can’t help but take note of Catherine Marion’s gentle demeanor and kind nature – a woman so sweet and soft-spoken that you probably wouldn’t guess that the owner of Jemily fine jewelry is also a seasoned corporate finance attorney. But it was her rigorous journey as a finance attorney that brought Catherine to the realization that she was meant to design the most precious of personal ornaments and start her own business. Jemily, which is named after Catherine’s two daughters – Emily and Jennifer, is a New York based fine jewelry brand known for it’s timeless pieces with intricate designs and touches of colorful stones.

Catherine’s love for jewelry first developed during her adolescent years as she inherited her grandmother’s jewelry collection and began to possess an appreciation for the craftsmanship of intricate designs and precious stones and metals. Catherine explains that she has never been loyal to one specific jewelry brand just that her love for the art of jewelry runs deep and has always held a special spot in her life. This spot was impactful, however, that it eventually lead to a drastic and courageous career change.

For Catherine, 2004 marked her eleventh year as a corporate finance attorney in New York City, eleven long years of sleepless nights, 18+ hour work days and missing out the day to day ‘mommy duties’ during her two daughters’ childhood. Catherine found herself employing three nannies just to be able to take care of her children while she and her husband evolved in their careers. But it was at that time that the working mother decided that in addition to her already hectic life, that she would enroll in night classes at F.I.T. for jewelry design. So, every Friday and Saturday night, Catherine took what was left of her free time and attended her jewelry design classes at F.I.T.’s Chelsea campus, and that is when her love longtime love for jewelry finally came full circle. “It just felt right. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.” Says Catherine.

The following year, with two years left to go in her jewelry design program at F.I.T, Catherine decided to leave her full-time position in corporate finance to pursue what it was that she felt she should be doing – designing jewelry. Fast forward to 2012 and that is when her change of career paths finally came to fruition and she started Jemily.

Catherine Marion’s Jemily is a completely self-funded business with a price point that ranges from $400 to $6,000 and according to the designer, her target market is a confident woman anywhere from 28 – 50 years old who can and chooses to purchase her own jewelry. With a brand specifically targeted at women and being a woman and independent business owner herself, Catherine does not take her responsibility to empowering women lightly.

For those who have struggled to zip up the back of a dress or clasp a necklace for you, Catherine is also thinking of you. With the goal of keeping her clients to be as independent as possible, Catherine keeps this in mind when she is designing her collections. “[Our goal] is to make user friendly jewelry, where you don’t have to rely on anybody else to help with trying it on.” To wit, all of Jemily’s clasps are made so that the client can put it on without the help of a significant other. Nothing empowers women quite like granting them the independence to put on their own jewelry with ease.

Over the last five years, Jemily’s classic, feminine designs have landed in over a dozen independently-owned stores nationwide while the sales and collections produced continue to grow. Ironically for the Chicago native, Chicago is the city where the brand experiences the highest volume of sales. Jemily is strictly wholesale and while Catherine designs the jewelry she employs two in-house sales associates to conduct the wholesale relationships and to complete their three-woman show.

Catherine produces around two collections a year and explains that intricate types of architecture and nature are her constant inspirations. On a personal level, Catherine says she prefers using natural, colored stones, which can be seen throughout her collections, despite them often being  harder to sell. Regardless, when designing her collections, Catherine always aims to create alluring pieces that have thought and meaning behind them. “I feel it’s my job to show things that nature made, [that] God made – to showcase these creations,” explains the designer. Catherine fulfills these self assigned duties by using crystals, stones and diamonds from all over the earth to create her pieces. She gets her diamonds from Antwerp, Belgium and has them cut in Israel and makes it a priority to guarantee conflict-free diamonds.

Catherine’s love for nature’s finest jewels is shown not only in her designs, but through her passion for jewelry making. “I wish I could give it away,” says Catherine. “If I broke even, I would be okay.” But unfortunately, the cost of jewelry making calls for a price tag that is a bit more expensive than $0. Regardless, it is clear that receiving an income from her business is no comparison to the feeling of finally doing what she loves every single day.

When asked about the future of Jemily, Catherine explains that continuing to expand and create new lines is her number one priority. Catherine’s selfless ways and ability to create beautiful, unique pieces for the most confident of women, especially in today’s political climate, is most definitely empowering.

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

Ways and Instagram.

2. Briefly describe your morning routine.

First shut alarm off, then head to yoga.

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

John Vogel.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

Iron.

5. What is your spirit animal?

Black panther.

6. What is your life motto?

I aim to have a wake like my grandmother’s, there were so many people that stopped by just to tell of all of the things that she did for them.

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

Popcorn.

8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful? 

Humble.

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

Westminster Abbey.

10. Desert Island. Three things, go. 

Wifi, Kindle, Purell.

Kelsi Zimmerman

Kelsi is a digital beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer who resides in New York City. In addition to SWAAY, she also contributes to Teen Vogue, Women's Health and New Beauty.

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