Seven local women turned their stylish instincts into successful businesses.
Hold your gaze on the spring/summer 2012 lookbook of Amaloa accessories—past the fire-red Chrysanthemum ring and the cascading precious stone necklaces adorning the models, and a familiar backdrop comes into view: Palos Verdes. Designer Amaloa Bonvecchio was so influenced by the scenery of the area and the Hermosa Beach sunsets outside her studio, she chose to juxtapose her finished products with the beauty that inspired them.
“We went hiking with the whole crew and equipment to reach the different locations for the shoot. It was a beautiful experience!” she says. Amaloa may have been born in Caracas, Venezuela, but her handmade line of casual necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets and bags is simply California cool. The natural materials that twist and stack as part of her kaleidoscopic collection—such as wood, leather, feathers, horns and bones—work together to create a look that punctuates a fashion statement.
“I believe accessories are an important key to creating an outfit,” she says. “You can give life to a look just with the use of the perfect accessory.”
A natural orchid flower, preserved in resin, and a twisted, silver-plated wire form this amazing ring. $98
Amaloa accessories, $30 to $550 each. amaloa.com
French Kande Collection
When Kande Hall visited France in 2009, the Manhattan Beach designer came across silver dollar-sized medallions that were given away as gifts from businesses to their best customers 50 years earlier. “All sorts of industries did it, from boulangeries to banks, bistros to vineyards, and insurance companies to ranches,” she says. “I think they are simply charming.”
Kande began using these vintage pieces—which range from a bust of King Louis XIV, an emblem of Champagne house Canard-Duchêne and an ornament of an Alsace horn blower, for starters—to construct hand-crafted necklaces and bracelets for her French Kande collection. While her 2-year-old company also includes pieces without medallions, such as her long tassel necklace worn by the likes of singer/actress Ashlee Simpson, Kande credits these intricate tokens of appreciation for setting her jewelry line apart from the rest.
“Each carries its own special history, and when we string them on rustic pearls, semi-precious stones and custom chains, we create a style all our own,” she says. Clasp a bracelet on with a pair of jeans or layer a necklace over a little black dress, and Kande would agree that your outfit is très chic.
A five-strand lime chalcedony bracelet with an antique silver-clad medallion. $160
French Kande Collection, $90 to $450 each. frenchkande.com
Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro
It would be easy to assume the jewelry designers of Energy Muse—which features titled pieces like the “empowerment” bracelet, “compassion” necklace, and “prosperity” bracelet—have all of life figured out. But cofounder Heather Askinosie would quickly step in with a humble correction. “We’re doing it with everybody else,” she says. “It’s by no means like we have all the answers, but we’re hoping to find out through our own journey and pass it on to others.”
Heather met creative partner Timmi Jandro when they grew up on the same block in Manhattan Beach, and for more than a decade they have fostered a bohemian collection that tunes in to ancient teachings of cleansing and intention. Supported by collaborative backgrounds in merchandising and spirituality, Heather’s and Timmi’s evolving line of mostly bracelets, necklaces and earrings has given celebrities and international followers the means to a hopefully happier end.
“What happens is that it helps you transform,” Heather says. “It helps people shift and let go of the things that they don’t want to see or grab onto the things that they want to attract.”
Lovestruck bracelet, made with black onyx and malachite, a stone of transformation and love. $69.99
Energy Muse bracelets, $25 to $100 each. Necklaces, $40 to $300 each. energymuse.com
As someone who loves the outdoors, Susan Szudar is no stranger to the sun. But when she began to notice the negative effects that sun exposure was having on her skin after sprints or swims—and the less-than-fashionable clothing options available for protection—she ventured into a new, strange territory: design. “I played around in my mind about what the ideal rash guard would be like for a woman. It would be beautiful, and it would feel great, and you’d actually want to keep it on,” she says.
Once Susan discovered that melanoma is the leading cause of skin cancer deaths in the United States, she set out to build SOL Inspired, a versatile line of tops and scarves that just so happens to ward against harmful UVA and UVB rays. “They don’t look like exercise wear or sun-protection clothing. I learned that I’m appealing to women who still love to tan, and they’re really not interested in learning about UV dangers,” she says. “The sun protection is a side benefit to those people, because even if you like to tan, nobody wants to burn.”
Susan says that since launching her line last year, she has gained a local 13-year-old and a woman in her 80s as fans. It could be that she has found a style for any woman under the sun.
Ilona, a flattering, feminine covering for the poolside cabana or casual lunch. $125
Sol Inspired collection, $39 to $125 each. solinspired.net
Liz Law Jewelry
Liz Law moved from Virginia to Los Angeles with a European history degree in 2004, but only the beads she brought over in tackle boxes could have hinted at her next move. She was staying in an extra room at her sister’s home—not too sure where to take her post-grad life—when a few friends asked about buying a pair of her earrings. “It actually didn’t even occur to me to sell my jewelry at first. I just kind of made it,” she says.
Since then, Liz has gone on to create a namesake line of minimalist but impactful earrings, necklaces and bracelets that are as much a reflection of her taste as they are of the effortlessly chic beachside aesthetic. A gilded seashell and pyrite nugget necklace, Swarovski teardrop earrings and a charm bracelet partnered with lace are just a few of the finished products that come from scavenging through flea markets, downtown LA’s jewelry district or her own evolving stash.
“It’s very personal,” she says of her collection. “You have to design based on your own style. I just make things that I want to wear, and hopefully other people would like to wear them too.”
A gorgeous, baroque-cut Swarovski crystal sparkles on a rose-gold faceted disc. $88
Liz Law collection, $35 to $320 each. bylizlaw.com
Max Daniel Designs
Although the creation story of Max Daniel Designs involves a few disparate threads to weave together—starting with designer Eden Heinsheimer’s upbringing in Rolling Hills and progressing into her previous globetrotting career, there is one theme that covers the gist: Eden is a creature of comfort. Born and raised in Rolling Hills, she worked for the U.S. government in the Middle East before returning to her hometown to start a family.
“Obviously there are no diplomacy jobs in the South Bay!” she says about changing her career. “Somebody gave me a baby blanket that I loved, and I just thought, ‘Hey, let’s do something different.’”
Named after her first-born son, now 8, Max Daniel Designs is comprised of luxurious security blankets and throws for baby as well as spreads for the living room and grown-up beds. The comfort-is-key line of funky animal prints and vibrant satins has gained a local following of her children’s schoolyard friends, but Eden also credits actresses Jennifer Garner and Nicole Kidman for turning her pieces into international items that can even be bought in the Middle East.
“I’ve gone so far away, and now I’m back,” she says. “Both my parents and I have all of our businesses on the same little street in the little town that I grew up in.”
A luxurious baby throw trimmed with a pink, charmeuse satin ruffle. $70
Max Daniel Designs baby and adult throws, $58 to $225 each. maxdaniel.com