I have worked in the product development industry for jewelry/accessories for about ten years. During that time, I met some of the most amazing people and got to work with a variety of large brands. I have done everything from hair clips and jewelry for places like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Nordstroms and Macy’s - to historical replicas and upscale jewelry for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMa gift store. Not to mention the occasional runway show with major labels (who will remain nameless due to non-disclosures I have signed HAHA!)
What did I learn from that part of my life? Well, I learned that first off, it takes a damn village to get product to the retail shelf! I also learned that there is a HUGE misconception about where our product comes from on a consumer level, and this is because the fashion industry has much more to gain by keeping you in the dark about it.
The good news is that I have also seen these corporate impersonal brands S-T-R-U-G-G-L-I-N-G to reach the new market: the dreaded “Millennials.” My theory for this is because we (yes WE, I am a Millennial and I don’t care who knows it) have a need for information and transparency. This is probably because we are the first generation to grow up with the internet and as a result, we are accustomed to having information at our fingertips. SO... why wouldn't we want the same thing from our product?
We want to know the story, the maker, and the materials behind things! This is why brand identity has become so important. The customers are not some faceless entity anymore. They are allies and friends! They are choosing to purchase from independent designers off of places like Etsy or Instagram because they CARE where their money is going. They want to feel included and connected.
This is why I left the corporate design world to start Unmarked Industries. Was this financial suicide for me? Probably. But I have spent almost a decade designing products for brands who want it all at the lowest cost and don’t care how they get it. I’ve seen department stores who will steal from smaller designers, knowing they can get away with it. I started Unmarked Industries to be able to practice my craft in a mindful, collaborative way. By working with designers and artists to produce quality small-batch American made products with ethically sourced materials and labor. Stay tuned, and I will let you know how it goes.