The design process for Parallel Universe began, literally, a year ago when life was quite different. Just like we did for Elevated Essentials, we wanted to design another collection where minimalism played a key role in illustrating our brand DNA: biocompatible, eco-friendly, and strong. With the success of the #IWantToBelieve campaign, we knew we had to continue the otherworldly, exploratory brand identity, but how? We were designing a collection of earrings, rings, and pendants that looked quite normal and everyday - the whole point after all was to create affordable and timeless jewelry pieces. We lingered for a moment on naming each product after a spaceship part, but the technical sounding names were missing that romantic component that we felt was necessary to inspire.
So we put the branding on hold and focused on making high quality jewelry the way we know how: via a process that is popular in aerospace engineering, emitting no fumes, using no water, and leaving behind no residues. This was November 2019, and we were hoping for a late January launch.
Then, COVID-19 appeared. It was in Asia first, where most of our manufacturing partners are based. Since we move from one factory to another during different stages of the manufacturing pipeline, it was a logistical nightmare as factory after factory closed down. More distressing was hearing firsthand from our partners (who we’ve worked with for five years) their challenges due to the pandemic. We all agreed that health and safety came first, and put what would be called Parallel Universe on hold. This was late January.
In early March, our factories in Asia were slowly operating again but the pandemic became serious in the US. We cleaned up our desks, said goodbye to each other and left to work from home. The same month, our US factory, an aerospace contractor, told us that, due to the pandemic, they had to move all efforts to their aerospace clients. We quickly dispersed our pieces back to Asia to be worked on and finalized.
By May, when we had our final samples and could finally start thinking about a launch date, life as we knew it was no more. We were all working from home, grateful to be working at all. We only had some of our photography equipment with us. There were no plans on how to shoot the collection, and less so to hire a model. The sunlight hits my patio in a way so that any attempt to take a photo before 1 pm is near impossible: you simply can’t see the screen. I must have been desperate, because I went out there anyway with my iPhone, laying new hoop samples on a glass tray. I lifted one hand to shield the sun from my screen, and clicked. Back inside, when my eyes finally adjusted, I saw how my hand had created a shadow on the ground next to the tray of hoops. It looked like a hand extended from another universe. I showed the team.
So we named the collection Parallel Universe. Especially then, when stay-at-home ordinances had just begun, we felt like we were living in another reality — hearing each other's voices through devices, seeing each other’s faces through screens, the uncertainty of everything. One of the questions I asked myself was how to emotionally sustain the business of selling jewelry during these times. I still struggle with this question, but I think about why we named the collection Parallel Universe. The idea of an alternate reality, of a recognizable existence but in another plane, has always given me hope. A parallel universe is an opportunity for a second chance, a new beginning. Since the launch of Ready-Made, we’ve had to iterate and rework our processes and materials because we want to offer something different and better. I had to give myself a lot of second chances. We had to give this collection, Parallel Universe, a lot of second chances. At the end of the day, it’s about putting your time into something you feel good about changing. If you ever hold a glimmering piece of the collection in your hand, know that it was made with the best of intentions, with an infallible hope that things can still get done and be done better. From a jewelry point of view, and you’ve probably heard us say it before, we want Parallel Universe to be an alternate reality for jewelry basics.
And for the world as it is right now, in this strangely disconnected yet hyper connected present tense — perhaps it’s an opportunity. A second chance at something. And we’re all, collectively, working on finding it out.
Thank you for reading about the journey to Parallel Universe. Until the next collection.
Founder / Creative Director