Leaving a plum fashion PR position to launch an accessories line during a recession is a risky move. But that’s just what Maryam Keyhani did last month when she quit her job at womenswear label Pink Tartan to focus on her jewellery line (sold on MaryamKeyhani.com). The 27-year-old OCAD grad has already snagged the attention of fashion editors with her luxe, surrealist necklaces—think Spanish lace, tuxedo collars and old war medals, all combined with pearls. Here’s why she took the leap.
You’re a painter. How did you wind up designing jewellery?
Art history is my thing, and I still don’t consider myself a jewellery maker. I was putting all these accessories on the women in my paintings and I would think, I could make this in real life.
Who’s wearing the pieces now?
I have no idea. When I get orders from people by e-mail, I Google them first because I want to know who’s buying me. It’s so personal; the necklaces are made from things I’ve been collecting for years.
In a time when most people are panicking over pink slips, you quit your Pink Tartan PR job to make necklaces. Why the bold move?
I need to be creative. I can’t get a manicure or pay $100 for a haircut, but I can make these necklaces that I love. It’ll be hard for a while, but it’s worth it. I’d rather be broke than unhappy. People are so stuck on things.
But you make these fantastic yet unnecessary things for consumers to get stuck on.
Yes, I still believe in spontaneous purchases. If I see a hat that I love, I’ll just buy it. I just got one in Hazelton Lanes by Hoss, a label from Madrid. I had to save for weeks to buy it.
What inspires your designs?
A big part of my sensibility is the crossover between masculine and feminine. I’m obsessed with men’s collars. I did a whole line of them. I found curtain tassels at the vintage store Gadabout. The salesperson told me they were used a long time ago during sex: when people made love they would hold on to them. It’s so funny because they just look ornamental and beautiful. I love that.