Laamie Young of Blank Verse Jewelry emerged as an up-and-coming national jewelry designer several years ago. Her baubles have caught the attention of celebrities like Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Etheridge, the Dixie Chicks, and many others. She's sold her wares in Anthropologie stores, has had her work featured in numerous national magazines and has become an indie design darling in her hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. The Penny Rose caught up with this brilliant jewelry designer recently for an inspiring Q&A on what makes her tick.
When and how did you first get into jewelry making?
I have been making jewelry since I was 20. I worked in jewelry stores for years and sold my creations at craft fairs and trunk shows, but I never knew that this was a serious pursuit. I feel like I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up and the whole time, I was making jewelry and studying the jewelry that I saw people wearing. I started making jewelry with my friend, Jane Farrar, in 2009 and that was the beginning of Blank Verse Jewelry.
How would you describe your personal style?
I am a bohemian at heart. I love mismatched, unpredictable style. I love a mix of vintage and current items, and I love accessories that add life to a simple outfit. I don't think that any outfit that comes off the rack works without a personal twist—an unexpected element that comes from your own sensibility. Don't let anyone tell you that something doesn't work if you love the way it looks.
How would you describe the aesthetic of Blank Verse Jewelry?
Anyone can wear anything from the line. I make jewelry that doesn't have that mass-produced aesthetic. I try to insert an aesthetic that has a soul, humanity, artfulness. I like to make jewelry that is unpredictable, beautiful and wearable. I never want to make anything that I would not wear myself. I do lots of research and work hard on my designs to make them comfortable to wear and interesting to look at. I draw much of my inspiration from the raw works of tribal cultures that use what they have on hand to make jewelry and art. I think that my work has a purposefully un-polished look, which is an important aesthetic feature to me.
What’s your favorite brand of denim?
I just wore holes right through my favorite old pair of Joe's Jeans.
What fashion designer (or beauty brand) are you eyeing right now?
Christine Phung is a current favorite of mine. She works hard to use as much eco-friendly materials as possible, which is something that I feel is so important. Her designs are fresh, wearable and beautifully designed.
What fashion tip would you give to someone for the upcoming season?
For summer, I love long vintage-looking jumpsuits and unusual color combos, think wearable, comfortable, flowy, delicate fabrics. I love long, delicate necklaces, cool earcuffs, and bangles that make pretty, delicate chime sounds when you move your arms. But most importantly, follow your heart, and trust yourself. Buy what you love and wear it with confidence.
What's your favorite item from your own jewelry line?
I love wearing the new "moon child" earrings which are forged brass half-moons with lots of hand wrapped, ecru tassels. They are light and easy to wear and they add a lot to a simple outfit without looking fussy.
On occasions when you need to get ready in a rush, what is your quick ‘n’ easy beauty routine?
I always wear foundation (Jane Iredale). A bright, pretty lipstick like Mac's "Rebel" is a favorite, also, a pretty hair accessory like "The Tye" by Vanessa Azzarello of Oakland, which looks cute on your wrist and makes a last minute pony tail look great.
What is the most unusual or surprising beauty product in your arsenal?
My eyebrows and eyelashes are light, so I love to have my eyelashes dyed. It saves time.
Heels or flats?
Flat sandals are such a great summer item. I have a pair of worn-out Pikolino sandals that I can wear with everything I own. But I love to wear heels whenever I get the chance. My grandmother was short (like me) and would never have been caught without heels on. When I was a kid, she said, "If your feet don't hurt, you are doing something wrong." There is something about that old-world ethic that I kind of love.
Photo by Nick Chao