From being a Wall Street financier to a renowned jewelry designer, Joan Hornig speaks of her transitions in life, her take on jewelry designing, her collections and her outlook towards life.
IBT: How did your fascination with jewelry designing start? What made a Wall Street financier choose designing as a career?
Hornig: I've always loved jewelry. When I walked down the aisle at my wedding, I made two vows: one to my husband and another that I would give everything I could back.
There was a time when I was working that I attended one fancy benefit after another, but the real chance came after 9/11, when I, like so many others, stopped to re-evaluate my life.
I used to do beading projects with my younger daughter, and one day her friend's mother admired the jewelry I was wearing, which me and my daughter had made together and asked to see more.
The friend's mother liked the jewelry so much she called a friend who worked at Bergdorf and it started from there.
I remembered the promise I had made to myself on my wedding day so many years earlier, and I knew this was the time to fulfill that, so I decided that any money from the designs would go straight to charity.
IBT: How would you describe your own style?
Hornig: My designs blend tradition with a contemporary aesthetic. References to nature and classical forms come alive with a freshness created through scale, balance, color and movement.
My pieces are meant to be noticed but not overpowering, and there is something for everyone on any budget.
Since they are handmade, no two pieces are the same. I use sterling silver, gold, colored diamonds, South Sea pearls, lapis, onyx and tourmaline. Some are colorful or have an Art Deco feel, and I do a lot with matte finishes, because I love the contrast between the more subdued matte finish and shiny stones.
My designs have a lot of movement and can be worn in several different ways, for example, my earrings are dangling, and the wearer can change the hanging piece, and the necklaces can be worn long or doubled, showing the clasp (which is incorporated into the design of the piece) or not.
IBT: What are your personal favorites from the Joan Hornig collection?
Hornig: My standard answer is that the last piece that sold is my favorite and my next favorite is the next one to sell.
However, I have a very soft spot for the Georgette named after my generous and supportive husband, George. I'm glad that it holds the record for being the bestseller in my line.
IBT: What collections and styles are you working on for the coming season? What is your inspiration behind the collection?
Hornig: The newest collection is meant to be joyful. I love color and softness for the spring/summer time. You can expect to see vibrant, sparkling stones (even small diamonds mixed in), ability to layer the different necklaces and a new take on the classics - georgettes, pinwheels and petals.
The newest additions to my messaging collection fall into the 'Impact' line. I am very excited about the cuffs in this collection.
Finally, the silver lining, tools for giving is going to keep on growing. This edgier collection has really taken off with the newest line of the nuts and bolts of giving.
IBT: What is philanthropy according to Joan Hornig?
Hornig: Philanthropy is a lifestyle. It's about being thoughtful and seizing every opportunity to not only think about helping others, but also making it contagious.
It's not about the amount given; it's about the effectiveness of the gift. Sometimes a phone call or a smile is what is needed.
Sometimes asking others to step up and take a leadership role in helping or giving is effective. Sometimes reaching into your own pocket is the answer. Being alert to the needs and addressing them with solutions is what makes a philanthropist to me.
Open eyes, open hearts, open minds to taking responsibility to addressing needs -- it's action oriented.
IBT: What was your idea behind the collaboration with TheKnot.com for creating the wedding line 'Say I Do to Philanthropy' in July 2010?
Hornig: There is so much money spent at weddings, so I thought, wouldn't it be great if some of that went to charity?
Just as I said earlier, when I walked down the aisle at my wedding, I made two vows: one to my husband and another that I would give everything I could back. I want to make philanthropy a lifestyle.
IBT: Any future plans or collaborations?
Hornig: Every day we take on new and exciting ventures. I can only guess what tomorrow will bring.
This spring we are launching two very exciting initiatives - a line of house ware products with Croscill and a line of exclusive bloodless diamond earrings for the socially conscious and fashionably bold.
IBT: Your creations have earned you quite a list of celebrity following from Cameron Diaz to Eva Mendes. How does that make you feel?
Hornig: I feel fortunate because high profile women are among the most effective way to encourage others to take notice.
My hope is that when a star wears my jewelry and it is credited, other people will look more closely at the designs.
If they look at the designs and like the pieces enough to make purchases, then more money will be given away and the pay it forward model will be even more robust. Also, I couldn't pay for models as beautiful as these women.