“We’re an L.A.-based costume jewelry line, and I actually started the brand in high school. I had to get an after-school job, so I started apprenticing with an incredible designer who worked on Abbot Kinney. She taught me all about jewelry making,  everything from wire-wrapping to sourcing stones and beads. I was making stuff for fun on the side, and then kids at school started requesting custom pieces. It kept growing from there, and my ultimate moment was when I was shopping at Fred Segal and a woman stopped to ask where I got my necklace. I told her I made it, and she ended up being the jewelry buyer for Fred Segal. She invited me back for a meeting, and they became my first retailer. That was 15 years ago!

I used to hand make all of the pieces, so everything used to be very vintage, one of a kind inspired, and now the aesthetic is much more classic- modern pieces with a tough-luxe vibe. The most current collection is called Luv Aj Crescendo, inspired by the ‘crescent’ shape. We did a ton of iterations of the crescent and tried to make it a little less feminine and bohemian. We also always do some version of a punk spike every season, so it’s all about reinventing the wheel and finding new ways to showcase it.

One of the things that’s really important to me with the collection is price point. These aren’t meant to be pieces that break the bank. Luv Aj isn’t something you wear your whole life. You should wear it for two or three seasons, and then not feel bad about not wanting to wear it anymore. But quality is really important, too. I like all the pieces to feel heavy and worthy of what you’re paying.

I am launching a fine jewelry line called Après Jewelry. Après means after– like ‘after’ Luv Aj. It’s alternative bridal, so we’re doing engagement rings, wedding bands, day-of jewelry, and then bridesmaids gifts. It’ll be direct-to-consumer, which means our customers will get wholesale prices. Right now, I’m trying to source different, special stones to use in the rings. Traditional white stones can be expensive, so I’m looking for cool diamond slices, salt and pepper diamonds, diamonds with inclusions- things that look really special and are also affordable. I got engaged three years ago, and my husband and I designed my ring together. Ever since I’ve been wearing it, I constantly get stopped on the street and get email requests from people asking me to make theirs. I started dabbling in engagement rings about two years ago, and at this point I’ve probably made about 15, so it’s been a very much trial and error process. It’s a really fun challenge though, and I love the emotional aspect of it. The person you’re designing for wears that piece for the rest of their life. It’s so cool!

One of my friends has an Apothecary in Brooklyn called Nova. She has a handful of scents she sells year round, and she does custom scents for Urban Outfitters and Opening Ceremony, but what makes her really special is her custom scent bar. When I was last in New York, I got to sit down with her for three hours to make my own scent, and it was such a fun process. It’s not like you just pick one smell- you have to pick base notes, middle notes and top notes. She helped me concoct my own personal perfume! Mine has coriander, petitgrain and fig. It’s really warm and delicious, almost unisex. It’s such a collaborative process, even though she’s the expert. She really helps guide you, especially if you’re like me and get stuck on certain notes [laughs].”

Thomas wears Luv Aj Lace Link Bra and Gold Cross Hoops

Credits

Photography
Aris Jerome