Before founding Retrouvai, Kirsty Stone was the first employee of an Architectural manufacturing company founded in 2010. She describes it today as a difficult yet amazing experience, especially being there from the beginning. She learned a great deal about management and the legal and financial requirements of starting a business in Los Angeles which was obviously very helpful in starting her own.
Kirsty, where does the name Retrouvai come from and what does it mean?
The name comes from the French saying ‘retrouvailles’ which means the joy in reconnecting with something from one’s past.
How do you remember your beginnings founding your business?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact beginning of my business because I dabbled for so long and even had a small collection under a different name prior to Retrouvai. I was experimenting in fine jewelry and learning jewelry manufacturing. I remember this time as exciting in many ways but also frustrating because I knew what I wanted to make but didn’t know manufacturing so I had a hard time articulating it. I learned everything from trial and error, asking questions and absorbing everything like a sponge.
Photo by Tristan Kallas
How did you learn about making jewelry?
I shadowed a bench jeweler evenings and Saturdays for nine months. I feel very lucky to have had someone take me under their wing and take an interest in my growth and success from the very beginning.
You love vintage treasures. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I inherited a lot of costume pieces and I have always loved the bold nature of mid-century costume jewelry. I am inspired by the artistry of earlier jewelry designers Jean Schlumberger and Angela Cummings, and photographers Norman Parkinson and Slim Aarons. Much of my inspiration comes from a place of nostalgia and is married to modern messages of empowerment and self-discovery.
How long does it take to make a new piece from having the idea to the finished piece?
Sometimes one week and sometimes months. It all depends on how complex and detailed a piece is, and how much development is required!
Where do you source most of the material for creating your jewelry?
My gold is fair trade and sourced from an LA-based company. Diamonds and gemstones come from all over the world. I have relationships with particular dealers who provide consistent sourcing for particular items. Furthermore, I love working with vendors who can provide detailed information about exactly where something has been mined. I always ask for country and region of origin.
You say that you like the idea of jewelry being passed down by generations. Are you creating yours as a timeless piece of art hoping that your costumers would do the same?
Yes exactly. I make things that are authentic to myself, things with messages I want to instill in my children, and I hope also resonate with others.
Are you owning jewelry passed onto you from family members?
Yes, I inherited many pieces from both of my grandmothers. Unfortunately some pieces I have lost while wearing, and others I have deconstructed or had sized to suit me.
What´s a learning point for you looking back at founding your own business?
The most important thing I’ve learned is not wavering from the identity of my brand. Everything doesn’t have to look exactly the same but it needs to speak for itself and stay true to Retrouvai.