Kemi and I met last year. People ask us how we met, and it’s a funny thing. I liked a picture of hers on Instagram that was an image of her sitting in a park on the Upper East Side with a caption similar to ‘office view’. I was jealous, but I still liked it.
One thing lead to another and we found ourselves meeting up on 86th St. in a I’ll-be-wearing-a-red-dress kind of way. She gifted me one of my favorite rings, the NYC Skyline, and I still wear it all the time.
The reason I’m telling you all of this is because my friend Kemi is one of the sweetest and more caring people I’ve ever met. Even though we haven’t been friends for a lifetime, sometimes I feel like we have. Kemi has founded her own jewelry line, Kemi Designs, hosts charity events, and is an amazing friend.
S: Where did you get the idea to create your jewelry line?
K: I got the idea when I was living over in Australia. I was always traveling and seeing cute stands with jewelry and got so inspired. I was studying clothing at the time and knew I wanted to start some sort of a business, but it’s difficult to start a clothing line completely on your own which was really important to me. I know some people do it, but I wanted to do something that I could to all myself with no help at all. I decided to venture into jewelry and make everything I wanted, piece by piece.
S: Why were you in Australia?
K: I had studied abroad in college for a month for a winter session. It was not enough time there, so I decided to go back after college. I took a year off after college, got a work visa and headed back to Australia. I had an internship with a clothing designer and it was there I realized my passion wasn’t in clothing.
S: When did you start Kemi Designs?
K: It kind of evolved when I was working as a Production Manager back in New York City. I would play with beads and make bracelets for my friends. It started with them asking for more, to telling me their friends wanted them, then asking when I was going to start selling them. I took the next step and found metalsmith classes, started an Etsy shop and four years later, here we are.
S: I went to one of your charity events a few weeks ago. Tell me more about it.
K: My dad has a rare eye disease that has caused him to go blind. He was diagnosed when he was a teenager and it’s gotten progressively worse over the years. I do his bills for him and noticed that he was donating to the Foundation Fighting Blindness monthly himself. I thought it was adorable and I wanted to help too. I thought about making a bracelet with brail on it that I could present to charities and at fundraisers and donate the proceeds to the foundation.
K: It took me a long time to get the design right, like years. I worked with CAD designers, Illustrators, and finally got the design down. They’re one of the most expensive pieces I sell, but there’s so much work that goes into them and they’re for a cause close to my heart.
K: I applied last year for a contest with Martha Stewart. Once I had entered last year, the finalists had already been chosen. When I found out about the contest this year, I entered again and was chosen as a finalist! I think I find out Saturday if I win, but so many of the other finalists really rallied to get votes and had way more than me. Hopefully I’ll win the judges over with the video my sister made of me. (Linked here!) (Contest details here!)
S: Anything else you want to add?
K: I guess I could add how everyone says that I’m super lucky that I get to do this, but honestly, it sounds cheesy, but you only have one life and why not find something that you love to. It’s so much harder than people think it is, but it’s so worth it. Def stressful, but def worth it. Def worth it.
I hope you’ve fallen in love with Kemi just as much as I have, and be sure to check out her site. Or even just give her a follow at www.Instagram.com/KemiDesigns. She also makes custom pieces, like my hand bracelet! 🙂 ❤