One of the things I miss most about being a buyer is working with truly amazing designers (yet another of my motivations for starting Rogue Closet!) This week, I talked with the founder of one of my favorite jewelry collections, Suzanne Duyn of Rossmore in Los Angeles (you may recognize Suzy from the CNBC show Billion Dollar Buyer.) Read on to learn more about what inspires her and what we can expect from her growing business...
Rogue: Rossmore was founded about 10 years ago, correct? Can you get into the inspiration behind the name “Rossmore” for those who don’t yet know?
Yes, it was! The name was conceived with high-end design in mind, as well as the beauty and glamour of Old Hollywood. Rossmore is the name of a street in Los Angeles; one of the only cohesive streets architecturally in the city, which always appealed to me as an artist.
R: You studied Arts & Architecture at UCLA, which clearly informs your jewelry designs- can you talk a little about why you chose jewelry as your medium, rather than say, skyscrapers?
I actually started as a Fine Arts student, focusing first on 2-D art (drawing and painting) and soon after found I had a talent for sculpture while studying under Nancy Rubins. In the beginning, it was truly about learning to create something, no matter the method of expression. As far as architecture, I have always seen the substructure underneath an object as far as its geometry, even something with a curve. That thought process has always been there.
Jewelry was sort of a happen-stance! I worked at Fred Segal Santa Monica during college for Nina Segal, who taught me how to make jewelry. I wore my first pair of earrings while working one day, and had women offering to buy them right off of my head! Not long after that, I visited a bead store and left feeling totally inspired, then made a batch of earrings for Madison Los Angeles that sold out in a week. It eventually evolved into a more raw-inspired, artisan-vibe, and I started creating molds from found objects. I really began to find my language as a designer at that point.
L-R: Classic Cross necklaces; Curve earrings.
R: What was the first piece you ever designed, and is it still offered in the collection?
It was that pair of earrings everyone wanted to buy at Fred Segal! They were tiny, gold safety pins attached to a chain- sort of asymmetrical and unusual for the time. I only made the one pair for myself and never again!
R: When you’re designing, is it with a specific “girl” in mind, or is yours a shifting muse?
It shifts sometimes- though the consistent muse has been "what would I like to wear?!" At first it was this “edgy cool-girl, living in West Hollywood” vibe! It’s different today.
R: So how is “Suzy LeQ” (Lequex is her maiden name) of North Hollywood different from the Mrs. Suzanne Duyn of today?
Less is more! Getting married was definitely an identity shift- and it affects the jewelry designs. It doesn’t have such a hard edge- it’s softer and sweeter. And my customer has evolved with me which is cool; they also want to wear prettier pieces to go with their other fine jewelry. It has given me the opportunity to expand as a designer, yes, but it’s always a balance of trying to grow your customer base while at the same time, not alienating the original girl. That question of “how” is always on my mind.
Also, my husband Cliff is a part of the equation now! He’s super-talented! He’d been harboring this latent talent for jewelry design and we’re even tentatively designing a men’s collection inspired by him.
R: Best part of your career thus far?
Billion Dollar Buyer! Best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me the commercial success that had been missing all those years which was very satisfying. I needed to be supported by a larger business and didn’t have the funding. That show gave me the backing I needed to realize my vision on a grand scale- to think globally, which has been the goal all along.
R: In your mind, and based on your experiences, what makes a brand successful? Any major ideas/opinions you’ve had to discard as you’ve grown?
Well I think for any brand, it’s persistence. You have to want it and keep going for it- you have to be passionate about what you do and have a mission statement you truly believe in. That’s what really kept me going. I want people to see my pieces and feel good wearing them, and inspire people with my work. And you have to check your motives for what you are doing. Why are you doing it? Is what you are doing authentic? I think Rossmore has always been authentic, and therefore a voice in a sea of 'product for products sake'. I’m just having the time of my life! I could not be more grateful right now.
R: For the women here in Denver, who are often engaged in an active, outdoor lifestyle, which piece (or pieces) from Rossmore do you feel would be a good fit?
Any of the stud earrings- you really never have to take those off; the “X no O” earrings for example; a little statement necklace with the 15” chain as opposed to a 16”, which is super-helpful when practicing yoga!! It won’t fly in your face, it won’t get caught on your chin- you can have it on every day. And something we have in the works right now: very dainty, thin stone rings that you hardly notice on your fingers. Perfect for activity and running around!*
*Rogue Closet note: the “Mermaid Loot” earrings are my personal faves!
L-R: X no O earrings; Mermaid Loot earrings (quartz); Listen to Your Heart necklaces; Solid Gold 14K Baby Rings.
R: What can we expect from Rossmore as a brand over the next few years?
OK, in no particular order:
-T-shirt project (Suzy’s early graphic talents come to light!)
-Focus on the tiny details: tiny earrings/studs
-Bringing back dangles, but in a lighter weight
And, we’ll continue to build the Statement collection, perhaps changing the stones a bit, but the bones of the pieces will be the same. Maybe even the original mini-safety pin earring, just slightly evolved! In 14K gold for a more grown-up approach.
R: Favorite piece in the latest collection?
It’s definitely the little turquoise Cabochon ring! It’s not yet released so stay tuned. It’s so pretty and so easy to wear. This first one is turquoise, but we will also be making them in other stones. And more personally, I’m always wearing two 14K on my pinky ring and 2 -3 others in various assembly. Again, easy and light!
Follow Suzy and Rossmore on Instagram @rossmorela for major inspiration and to find out what's new in the collection!
xo Go Rogue.