Settle in Gem Hunters. We have a good one here. It is super juicy and worth your while because Jean Z. Poh knows her stuff. So if you are in the know, we have a newcomer in our mist called Swoonery. They are an ecommerce start up that is bringing fine jewelry to you at the ease of your computer with an awesome shopping experience and great list of designers (what's not to like?). Bold move setting up a fine jewelry shop online for reasons we won't go into but mad respect for Jean Z. Poh the lady behind it all + her crack team. We had the chance to interview the fabulous Jean and her insight into the business and love for jewelry did not disappoint. If diamonds, entrepreneurship, and female founders are your thing this is a must read interview for you. P.S. she is the women behind the #diamondblindness which we will be totally with be stealing for our instagram.
You just launched Swoonery! Congrats on an amazing feat. Any advice for aspiring and like-minded entrepreneurs?
It’s difficult to give specific advice because every entrepreneur’s journey is different. However, there are a few things that I’ve learned that will ring true for everyone from tech entrepreneurs to fine jewelry designers who are building their own brands. The first is to be over-prepared for every opportunity you create. People often credit luck but I believe that hustle and preparation takes you 80% of the way there. You can be the luckiest person in the world but if you don’t have your ducks in a row when chances present themselves things will fall flat. Secondly, at the risk of sounding cliché, don’t fear failure. Entrepreneurship is about being able to figure out how to do things especially if you’re creating something that doesn’t yet exist. Try, stumble, learn and adapt quickly. Finally, there is no one-size-fits all. Know what works for you and have the conviction to do things differently.
What was the hardest part of getting Swoonery up and running?
Taking something from an idea to reality is always difficult because you start with nothing yet have to be able to convince people of the vision before you have anything to show for it. I’m very fortunate that we were able to build a dynamic team and have the support of fantastic investors and advisors. We’ve been able to accomplish tremendous things in a very short amount of time and credit should be given to everyone who has been involved this process, including the spectacular designers who supported us from day one. I will always be grateful to them for that.
You launched with a great assortment of up and coming and known designers - what was your process for finding the right designers and jewelry for Swoonery?
I’m 4th generation in the jewelry business—in addition to having it in my DNA I also studied jewelry history, apprenticed with a master jeweler and served as a corporate strategist for large international jewelry brands. So I’ve rendered jewelry, done wax carving, brokered gem deals, set up flagship stores—the whole shebang.
We don’t bring brands on board simply because they are on-trend. At Swoonery, our focus is on building a supportive ecosystem for brilliant designers with unique aesthetics, brands with integrity, and impeccable craftsmanship in the products we showcase. I know what it takes to build an international fine jewelry brand—which is why we are equally comfortable supporting well-known brands with longevity as we are confident launching the careers of debut designers with talent and vision. Fine jewelry is an art form that the world has lost sight of in recent years and I want Swoonery to change that through the jewelry we curate.That’s what differentiates the jewelry brands you find on Swoonery.
I know you just launched but can we expect from Swoonery in the future? Anything up your sleeve?
There’s so much! We are continuing to roll out new brands, we have some really exciting ones coming next month and anticipate having over 100 brand by year-end.
You went to the GIA institute - what was your experience like there?
I spent many hours grading diamonds no bigger than the lead tip of a pencil and plotting the inclusions. I would get totally lost in the world inside of gems. I loved it. I also came up with the hashtag #diamondblindness.
As someone with your pulse on jewelry - what trends are you seeing right now?
Convertibles! So many of our designers are starting to make pieces that can be interchanged or worn in different ways. I think its absolutely brilliant to allow the wearer to participate in the creative process and put their own mark on the pieces they wear. Cosima BUC is a personal favorite and she does this so well with her Transformer which can be worn in 3 different ways—you can even swap out different colored studs. Genius!
What is your favorite piece of jewelry you own and why?
That’s such a tough question to ask a jewelry lover. We as humans have always looked to fine jewelry to mark special milestones. If you look back on jewelry history, early man stated making jewelry as soon as they developed primitive tools which tells me that adorning ourselves with jewelry is something that is intrinsic to our very nature.
For me, I have favorite pieces given to me my special people in my life, favorite pieces from visionary designers whose work moves me and favorite pieces that I’ve designed for myself that mark stages of my own growth as a designer. This is the first ring that I designed for myself. It is a pink Kunzite set in rose gold with white diamonds, inverted black diamonds and pearls. Its funny because even though I designed it at the very beginning of my career in jewelry I still haven’t gotten bored with it because it is such an accurate aesthetic representation of the different layers of my personality—what those layers are I will let your readers determine for themselves when looking at it.