If you are lucky enough to own a piece of jewelry or cashmere made by Denver jewelry designer Jacqueline Lampert, you know every hand crafted piece comes with a message of gratitude for her mother. Jacqueline (who I fondly call Jacky) creates designs that are the ultimate gift every mother wants.
I always tell my kids what I want most for Mother’s Day is a heart felt note. After spending the afternoon in Jacky’s studio, that has all changed. Well not entirely. After all, Jacky’s jewelry does come with a heartfelt note.
Jacky is the founder of Aspen True, a Denver based company with three lines of luxury apparel: jewelry, cashmere and the latest endeavor – resort wear. You can find Aspen True in local boutiques, fine stores throughout the country and even internationally. A few of the Colorado stores carrying Aspen True are: Garbarini in Cherry Creek, Blue Ruby on Larimer in downtown Denver, Pepi Sports in Vail and Pitkin County Dry Goods in Aspen.
I hope you find Jacky’s interview as inspirational as I did, and I wish everyone a very happy Mother’s Day!
Can you tell us about the special card of gratitude you include with every design?
I feel fortunate to have something inside of me that sees how things come together and wants to create. Whether you are an artist, a jeweler or an architect building a house, we might ask ourselves where does inspiration or an idea come from? In reflecting on that question, I thought to myself, well it comes from God. Then I thought, I can accept that, but we we all come from God so why don’t we all have the same gifts?
Then I thought about my mother. I remember as a child seeing my mother get dressed up on many occasions, whether for a gala or to go out to dinner with friends. I watched my mother get ready with big round eyes. She was always beautifully dressed whether wearing Escada, Versace, Valentino or whatever it was. I realized my mother was the seed. Being exposed to beautiful things as a young child showed me how one can be transformed by beautiful cuts, by some silk or some cashmere.
My friend Jenn Dechtman (giggle) once told me she heard a Rabbi say the source of happiness is gratitude. That stuck in my mind. So, on a small cards that come with all my pieces it says, “the source of happiness is gratitude,” and then it says “I want to thank my mother.” It is a reminder to be appreciative and thankful for what we have. When my first cashmere line came out, I knew I wanted to give my mother a gift. I told her “this is for you.” She was so grateful and appreciative for the cashmere I gave her, but I said you need to take it out of the organza bag and see what the card says.
I told my mother that this card will be on every single piece of cashmere or silk that is ever sold because I want to pay homage to her.
What made you start your jewelry business?
It started out of failure. Its the truth. The kicker came when my daughter turned to me one day and said, “Mommy I am so proud of you.” What she was proud of was not my success, because I wasn’t succeeding at that time. She was proud of seeing me work really hard and being tenacious. I ended up closing some businesses that weren’t working, and I started metal smithing.
There was interest in my designs, but the labor involved was really time intensive. I could never make back the hundreds of hours I put into one ring. I started doing jewelry that was quicker to make – still with genuine diamonds, silver and gold. I went to a store in Cherry Creek and tried to set up a meeting. They turned me down. I ran home and changed, because I thought maybe it was my outfit. I had another meeting that day, and the person at the store I was meeting with said, “I will take everything.” That’s how it started.
What do you love most about making jewelry?
It is really a bit of a rush. I feel an adrenaline when I see something that is just a chain on a reel or gemstones that are just laying down. In my mind I can start putting it together. I can see the finished piece before I start doing anything. That creative process is so exciting–making something out of nothing.
At what point did you realize your business was taking off?
I think when I stopped crying in the bathroom at trade shows. There is nothing worse than going to a trade show and standing around. So, the first time I realized my business was working was when I started getting too busy to even eat or go to the bathroom. The second pivotal point was when a big resort placed an order. For me that was a time I felt I was on my way – and not the first order but the second and the third.
What does it mean for you and your business to be based in Denver?
Because I am in Denver I don’t feel pressure. I don’t feel like I have to follow any design trend. Of course I want to be aware of what is in the stores and in the trade shows, but there are no rules here. Denver really is a western frontier. So I am a jewelry designer – now doing cashmere – now doing resort. Sometimes I think to myself, well what are the rules? Should I be doing this? Then, I realize why not? Why not try?
There is a sense of independence being out of Denver- a point of differentiation.
On all my jewelry I say “made in Colorado” or on my cashmere I say “designed in Colorado.”
What do you love most about Denver?
I love the mountains. When things get really stressful or I have a problem whether personally or professionally, I go to the top of a hill by my house and look out at the mountains. I think to myself,
those mountains were here way before me and will be here way after me.
When I look out at the mountains and realize my place in this big world and even in this state, I am so tiny and my problems seem less consequential. It calms me down. Living in Denver gives you room to breathe and room to escape.
I work really hard and so do many in Denver, but if I want to take just take a day trip to the mountains I can. By living in Denver, I am able to come back restored, refreshed and recharged by having that kind of mountain escape available. I also love Denver style – Colorado style.
How Do you describe Denver style-Colorado Style?
People here are not contrived. They would sooner have their hair in a messy bun or a ponytail-than in a stiff, sprayed big hair do. I think that informality in how women, whether older or younger, dress in a comfortable relaxed way gives them something a bit edgy. Especially with the millennials, there is always a little something about them whether a tattoo, some leather or something distinct. I try to have designs with a bit of that edge too.
Even though my jewelry is fine jewelry and the cashmere is 100% cashmere, it is not meant to be worn only with a black dress. It certainly could be, but it is also meant to be worn with torn jeans and a tank top. To have that edge is a very Colorado thing.