Q&A: Laamie Young of Blank Verse Jewelry

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.

Learn more about Blank Verse Jewelry at the company's website or Facebook page.

Photo by Nick Chao

A Year In Review

Photos: Nick Chao
One year ago, I gathered a select group of writers and fashion and beauty insiders, and launched The Penny Rose. In the last year, we've gained a loyal and growing readership. We offer five articles a week on everything from eco-beauty reviews to the latest on the runway, to fashion tips, and much more. Over the course of the last year, we created several high fashion photo shoots that were shot by photographer Nick Chao and featured the talents of fashion stylist Missy Schnaps, hair stylist Ginger Vaughn, makeup artist Anna Wu, and model Desiree Amariei.
Photos: Nick Chao
We received an arts grant from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County to continue to fund the blog.
Photo: Nick Chao
We attended Fashion and Digital Art Night at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz.
We created several fashion videos including this holiday film by Deva Blaisdell-Anderson.
Photo: Mama-T
On a weekly basis we featured items from local boutiques in our "I Love That" column by Mama-T.
We're producing/shooting/designing/styling a Fall 2013 catalog for Synergy, an international clothing company. 
We tried out eyelash extensions at L'Atelier Spa in Santa Cruz.
We fell in love with the color combo of pink and gold
And we also fell for geometric jewelry.
We made sure to support our locals like fashion designer Sally Esposito and jewelry designer Laamie Young of Blank Verse Jewelry (necklace above). It's been an amazing first year of blogging, and we're very grateful to our readers for their support, and especially to our Santa Cruz audience. We have an online boutique, Instagram, advertising options, a production team, and much more. Cheers to our second year! Please email us anytime at thepennyrose@gmail.com to share story ideas. We love to hear from our readers.

Cameron Marks Trunk Show—Dec. 15

For our Santa Cruz readers, you won't want to miss this dynamic trunk show on Dec. 15. Cameron Marks, a chic, elegant, modern boutique on the Westside of Santa Cruz is hosting a trunk show from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15 featuring a handful of fantastic designers. Included in the mix are three locals (whose work is featured above and below). Resin wax necklaces (above) by the talented Michelle Stitz will be for sale, as well as Blackbird jewelry (bracelet is above) and items from Laamie Young of the internationally renowned Blank Verse Jewelry (above tassel jewelry and below). This is a must-see event, featuring loads of baubles and more. 

Cameron Marks, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, (831) 458-3081.

Above three photos of Blank Verse Jewelry: Nick Chao

Beautiful Blank Verse

When Blank Verse Jewelry got its start a few years ago, the Santa Cruz-based line took off right away. The Dixie Chicks snapped up their designs and took them on tour; the television show "Pretty Little Liars," used the accessories in a promotional poster; Women's Wear Daily and Women's Health magazine featured pieces from the collection; Anthropologie sold items in select stores.

Admittedly, co-founder Laamie Young says it was a lot to take on so quickly. So, just as Blank Verse was hitting its stride, the company decided to close up shop for a while. Fans were understandably disappointed to see the romantic necklaces and bohemian earrings take a hiatus. 

But, good news. Blank Verse Jewelry is back. This time, with staying power and a fresh tribal aesthetic that's on trend for fall 2012. Here, The Penny Rose reveals images that were taken for a requested lookbook for Vogue magazine's Russian edition. The shots were taken on Young's property in the Santa Cruz mountains, and the shoot was styled, shot, and modeled by all Santa Cruz talent including fashion styling by Missy Schnapps, consulting by Blank Verse co-founder Jane Farrar and photography by Nick Chao. The results are a gorgeous display of high-fashion jewelry at its finest. 

Also to note—all of Young's designs are eco-friendly. She uses all recycled elements in each one-of-a-kind design. 

Here's a close look at Young's fall collection, a beautiful nod to the wooded landscape in her backyard. 

Learn more at blankversejewelry.com.

Photography by Nick Chao. Designs by Laamie Young. Styling by Missy Schnaps and Jane Farrar.