Meet Zoe Chicco
One of the first jewelry brands to come up with the dainty fine jewelry concept, it’s hard to believe that Zoe Chicco has been around for nearly 20 years! Passionate, charismatic and inspiring leader, Zoe Chicco is the founder behind Zoe Chicco, the successful jewelry brand sold in over 200 stores around the world. Zoe has seen her brand grow and evolve tremendously in the last 18 years. With over 20 employees, a beautiful studio stretching across 3,500 square feet and exclusive partnerships with top department stores like Nordstrom, Saks and Bloomingdale’s, it’s safe to say that Zoe Chicco is not going anywhere. I sat down with the successful entrepreneur one afternoon in her impressive studio, located in Downtown LA and chatted up a storm.
It’s hard to believe that Zoe Chicco has been around for almost 20 years! Tell me how it all started.
Zoe, who knew she wanted to work in jewelry at a very young age, started her company shortly after going to school, where she majored in metalsmithing. “I just knew that this was my calling and never looked back since,” Zoe adds. After graduating, she began working for some experienced jewelers and goldsmiths who trained her in the field of jewelry making and design. Zoe took this has an opportunity to learn and take away as much knowledge as she could. She later moved out west and began designing and making each piece by hand out of a closet in her apartment. Zoe Chicco’s first collection, made from sterling silver, made its debut at a trade show in 2000. Originating in San Francisco, Zoe’s line of jewelry has evolved from sterling silver into one of the most recognizable 14K gold jewelry brands on the market, now headquartered in downtown LA’s notorious jewelry district.
What was the brand’s turning point in your opinion? What does your team structure look like?
When Zoe got pregnant 4 years ago, she decided that it was time to hire more staff, allowing herself to step away from the day-to-day details and have more of a ‘helicopter view,’ where she could stand back and see the bigger picture. She started by hiring a Sales Director, Beth Adelson, who is responsible for introducing Zoe’s line into big name department stores and e-commerce giants. She then grew her team of in-house bench jewelers who make the entire collection by hand in the studio, which is uncommon in the industry and therefore a big advantage for the jewelry label today. Finally, her husband also joined the team and handles the company’s finances. Since then, Zoe Chicco has tripled in size and just signed a lease on an 8,000 square foot space to give the brand the room it needs to continue to grow.
What does jewelry mean to you and how would you recommend wearing it?
Every piece of jewelry that Zoe wears is symbolic and meaningful to her, not to mention stunning!. Whether it’s the personalized dog tag necklace with her son Truman’s birthday engraved on it or the Cartier Love bracelet that her husband got her as a push present, Zoe feels that there is never enough jewelry you can wear. “I never take any of my jewelry off,” and nor does she have to! All handmade in 14K gold, Zoe Chicco jewelry is wearable for everyday use without the fear of being tarnished. “Jewelry is a form of expression and creativity. It can instantly add character and coolness to any outfit.” The diversity in Zoe’s collection of jewelry is endless. “Choose a piece that is strong enough to wear by itself or pieces that are delicate enough to be layered together,” Zoe says.
What inspires you? How do you come up with your creations?
“Everything and anything inspires me, there really are no limits!” she says. She recently came out with a Paris collection, which was inspired by the intricate details of a ceiling design she had seen and admired in a traditional Parisian apartment she once stayed in. The beautiful shapes of the ceiling design had left her feeling inspired to design her next collection. She also felt inspired on a recent trip to Hawaii which she came away from with a line dedicated to sunsets, specifically the horizon line featuring marquise diamonds. Traveling, interior design and lifestyle in general are all big sources of inspiration for Zoe.
What characteristics do you need to be an entrepreneur?
“Motivation, authenticity and a good support system are key to succeeding at starting your own business,” Zoe says. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you only have yourself to motivate, it is therefore so important to have that inner drive and discipline to keep yourself going, even when times get tough.” Authenticity has always been a core value of Zoe’s brand and she feels strongly about preserving that transparency within her company’s core values. Finally, loyal friends and family really help, and Zoe admits that her encouraging parents and supportive husband have contributed to the successful entrepreneur that she is today.