x

Studio Visit: Candice Neistat on Reaching Outside of Doing What You Love

STORY + VIDEO EDITING BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – Shop Finn Jewelry + Billy! –  PHOTOS + FOOTAGE BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE STYLE LINE

Candice Neistat is breathing

new life into the jewelry industry. A self-taught designer and bonafide creative problem-solver, Candice has been able to build two successful contemporary jewelry brands, that in a way, mirror two very different periods in our featured interviewee’s life. Enter Finn Jewelry and Billy!.

While there is obvious variation each brand’s aesthetic (Finn’s delicate and playful designs in contrast with the signature tag necklaces, and growing assortment of lifestyle goods that Billy! is known for), we quickly came to appreciate the connectivity in each brand upon visiting Candice at her gorgeous design studio in Soho.

Simply put, both Finn and Billy! are rooted in quality construction and intentional design, and as Candice mentioned in our interview below: “…Luckily I was introduced to the right way of creating jewelry. Not skimping on quality or craftsmanship and classically beautiful pieces. I think that’s why it’s still successful to this day.”

Coupling this with Candice’s unapologetic sense of humor and steadfast determination, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time with the seasoned entrepreneur, who shared more on the inception of both her brands, her thoughts on travel, and her advice for the next generation. Discover the full story below (featuring two looks styled by Candice that embody the respective spirit of each brand) and enjoy exclusive photos and footage captured by Bridget Badore for The Style Line.

[CLICK EACH THUMBNAIL IN THESE GALLERIES TO EXPAND IMAGE]

Hello! I’m Candice. I’m a mess,

I mean, a Mom. I also run two brands and have a workaholic husband and am a control freak, so my life is never dull. I like spicy food and I think I’m really funny. I am a lazy perfectionist which means I want the best but sometimes it’s just too much work to get there. So, I have to prioritize what gets perfected; for example, the bespoke engagement ring will be perfect. My highlights will be inches overdue.

Congratulations on the continued success of Billy! and Finn. Walk us through the inception of both brands and how you carved out their respective identities. Why was it important to you as a designer to bring both of these “identities” to life?

Thank you! They are so different from each other. Finn was started when I was 23. Unafraid, wild, cared about designer clothes, full face of makeup and going to the best restaurants, being friends with stars, etc. I had no business making earrings worth up to $10,000. But luckily I was introduced to the right way of creating jewelry. Not skimping on quality or craftsmanship and classically beautiful pieces. I think that’s why it’s still successful to this day. Billy! came about in a different phase of my life. Post marriage, post-baby, post caring about what people think of me. I got rid of my collection of heels and fancy dresses. I only wear comfortable things. I barely ever wear makeup anymore. And I could care less about the latest hot spot. Everything is simplified. Thank goodness my husband still finds me attractive without all that fancy stuff!

Do you have any unexpected sources of creative inspiration? 

Err. Not really. And I wish I had a more romantic inspiration answer for you like “the night sky” or “the way the foam on my latte swirls.”

[CLICK EACH THUMBNAIL IN THESE GALLERIES TO EXPAND IMAGE]

From South Africa to Texas to New York, travel has obviously played a huge role in your life. What are some things you wish you had more opportunity to talk about when it comes to your relationship to travel both as an individual and as a jewelry designer?

I wish I could say all my travel has an influence on my design. Specifically, I can’t recall any piece I’ve created that I can trace back to a particular geographical place of inspiration. It’s always been people, old jewelry, their family jewelry that inspires me. I am really drawn to antique jewels, the question of why it’s still attractive after all these years? As far as an individual, long hauls are the norm for me. I’ve been flying to and from South Africa annually since I was 10 months old. And that was when people smoked on planes and the movies played on projection screens at the front of the cabin. I’m very good at setting up camp in my seat.

How do you think creativity contributes to some of the world’s bigger conversations and what role do you hope your work as a jewelry designer plays in this?

Well, I don’t think my creativity with jewelry contributes to the world’s bigger conversations. Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly changing the world with gold and diamonds. I make things that people desire, not need. But I contribute to bigger conversations in other ways. Simply being a female business owner, and running a fully female office, set a good example about female empowerment and equality. Starting and maintaining businesses on my own, without investors, is a testament to hard work and problem-solving. I hope those are the conversations people have– after they say how pretty my ring is.

How would you advise the next generation of designers to leave an imprint in the world, simply by doing what they love?

I would advise them to do more than simply what they love. Set an example with your work ethic, how you treat people, how you get through the tough times in business. If you want to leave an imprint, you have to reach outside of just doing what you love–even if it has nothing to do with your craft. Otherwise, what’s the point?