Jan 2010: Oligoville

Read the interview below or click to read the blog.

Ten Minutes with Kerri Parker

January 19, 2010

To paraphrase a popular fairytale, Kerri Parker's contemporary riff on art noveau is not too sweet, not too edgy, but the perfect mix of both, with a whimsical sense of humor to boot. Her earrings, lariat necklaces, bracelets, and rings mix gems like pink tourmaline, lemon quartz, amethyst, and pearls with loops and whorls of oxidized sterling silver and 14-karat gold. Try the spiral box earrings to add some glitz to a girl's night out, or try Kerry's take on the bib necklace to add some whimsy to a sleek tee and skinny jeans combo. Read on to learn more about this uber-talented former designer for H&M who counts Salvador Dali and Tim Burton among her influences.

Oligoville: In five words or less, Kerri Parker is. . . 

Kerri: Avante garde & exceedingly wearable.

Oligoville: How would you describe your ideal customer?

Kerri: It doesn't matter if my customers are fashion forward or conservative, own one piece of jewelry or hundreds. Ideally my customers will cherish and wear my jewelry because they have fallen in love.

Oligoville: How'd you end up as a designer?

Kerri: I spent half of my undergraduate career at Washington University working toward a fashion design degree but ultimately ended up with a BFA in Printmaking & Drawing.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I answered an ad looking for a jewelry designer to work with a factory overseas. With very little jewelry experience under my belt, I convinced the company to hire me. As it turned out I was designing jewelry for companies such as H&M and Forever 21.

Oligoville: How/when did you launch your own brand?

Kerri: I quit my job at the jewelry manufacturer because I felt too restricted. I was being asked to make my designs look more like (insert name of famous designer's) jewelry.  In late 2004 I began teaching myself how to make jewelry while taking a few weekend intense courses in metal-smithing, casting, and stone setting.  I taught myself by trial and error what could and could not work in constructing wearable and durable jewelry.  I launched my brand in early 2005 with a collection of approximately 30 pieces of jewelry.

Oligoville: What are your predictions for fashion in 2010?

Kerri: Many businesses have closed their doors, paving the way for new talented designers to come forward to showcase their work.  This shake-up will challenge new and established designers to create fresh, unique, outstanding collections for the year. Long chains, bib necklaces, chokers, and large bold bangles will also be coming for spring 2010.

Oligoville: Who and/or what inspires you?

Kerri: What: Nature, architecture, the process of working with metal, and the beauty of natural stones.  Who: Hieronymus Bosch, Dali's Lithographs, Jorge Posada, Medieval manuscript borders. Recently: the Tim Burton Exhibit at the MOMA.

Oligoville: What's 24 hours like in your life?

Kerri: I wake up, make coffee, and read the news online.  Once I've pulled myself together, I return phone calls and e-mails, and deal with  my paperwork. In the afternoon I'll go to my studio to design and make jewelry. Some days I'll work on my graphic design and web design that is in constant need of updating.  Before sundown I try to do some yoga, go for a run, or surf.  In the evening I'll come home to cook dinner if I have the energy. Afterwards, I'll do a little more work at my computer then sit down to attempt to watch a movie. Of course, I usually fall asleep in about ten minutes.

Oligoville: What's in your closet? What are you wearing right now?

Kerri: Jeans and cotton tank tops, a few simply draped tops from Japanese designers like Y3, some dresses, my favorites being from Alexander Wang and Sportmax, and my short black leather jacket I can wear over anything. Today (and almost everyday) I'm wearing jeans, a tank top, a hoodie, flip flops, a pair of my studs, and a set of stacking flower rings.  Because of the work I do in my studio, it can become a pretty dirty environment so I can't wear any clothes I care about.

Oligoville: What's in your bag right now?

Kerri: I've been carrying my mom's vintage, football-shaped, gold Rossi e Rossi clutch non-stop for over a year now.  It's the perfect size to drop into a larger bag when I need to so I never have to change bags.  Inside is one of my all-time favorite purchases–my green embossed Comme de Garçons wallet.  Aside from that I have my phone, a little mess of papers, a tiny tube of Aquaphor that I use for my lips, some hand lotion, and some micron pens.

Oligoville: Tell us about some unexpected setbacks you have faced since starting your business and what you learned.

Kerri: In my first year of business, I put too much stress on my body trying to get everything done.  After a lot of pain and a trip to the doctor I realized the toll my schedule was taking on me.  Having a successful business is important, but not to the extent that I should sacrifice my well-being. I resolved to make my health a priority and to make time for exercise and sleep.

Oligoville: What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

Kerri: While I'm working more hours than most people I know, I have the freedom to set my own hours. Little things like taking an hour off and going out to breakfast or going to the beach really help keep stress at bay.

Oligoville: Tell us where you expect to see your business in the next five years.

Kerri: My collections will be retailing in more boutiques and department stores all over the world.  I'd like to collaborate with other designers/artisans, maybe expand into other accessories such as handbags and belts. And hopefully one day my tiny Santa Monica gallery will be large enough to fit more than five people at once.

Oligoville: Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Kerri: Ask for advice anywhere you can get it. Do lots of research before you dive into anything that will cost you a lot of time and money. Create a good network of people around you.

Oligoville: What's on your playlist right now?

Kerri: Oingo Boingo, Susie Suh, Bruce Springsteen, lots of old hip hop and punk rock.

Oligoville: Any last words?

Kerri: To view the collection visit www.kerriparker.com. If anyone is in the L.A. area, stop by the gallery/studio at 728 Alley.  Occasionally open to the public but definitely open for appointments.  http://www.728alley.com

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