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Women's History Month: HOLDEN's Production Manager Jeeyun Kang

Jewelry shopping can be intimidating. That’s why we started Ask HOLDEN, our blog where we answer your FAQs, break down scary industry lingo, and guide you in finding the perfect piece of jewelry.

In honor of Women's History Month, we sat down with our very own Jeeyun Kang to talk about her role as Production Manager, her creative journey, and her thoughts on the wedding ring industry.

How long have you been working at HOLDEN?

This was my first year!

Where did you work before HOLDEN?

Before I came to HOLDEN, I was working at a gold mounting company in the Diamond District. They were selling business to business, so they were selling gold jewelry without the stones. Customers brought in their own stones to set. It was kind of like a manufacturer, whereas HOLDEN sells the finished product with the diamonds directly to the customers.

I decided to move to HOLDEN for many reasons. I’d been working at my other company for eight years and wanted a change. I hadn’t been doing that much design because they imported their jewelry from Korea. I found myself thinking about what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do in the future, and how I wanted to improve myself.

When I first met Andrew and Simon, HOLDEN was only a start-up company. I really liked their ideas of supporting the LGBTQ+ community and I also really liked the idea of marketing custom rings and engravings. They were also doing 3d designs here in house. I wanted to learn, so I came here.

Jeeyun Kang

What has been your journey in the jewelry industry? What got you started?

I really never thought about being a jewelry designer. Growing up, I was just one of the students who really loved drawing and painting. I was just very artistic. After I finished high school in Korea, I went to a craft design college that my grades matched me into. I just thought it sounded fun.

I studied four different types of design for the first two years and ended up focusing on ceramics and metal crafting for my major for the last two years. I was just having fun making my own jewelry - like making this ring after starting from scratch. I’d buy a straight strip of metal and have to hammer it and bend it into a ring. It was so fun!

But even after that, I wasn’t really thinking about jewelry design as my job. But I ended up getting the opportunity to do an internship in New York. That was about eight years ago - in 2013. I liked the internship and had fun. It was a different market in New York than it was in Korea. In Korea, they do all of these dainty, small pieces, but here it was all big and chunky. I thought it was very interesting. Then the company where I was interning offered me a full time job, so I accepted.

Jeeyun and Her Parents

Who or what in your life inspired you to enter this industry?

I would say my dad. He wanted to do something related to art when he was growing up, but his parents couldn’t support him financially. I think it happened a lot in his generation. So, I think I got the artistic talent from my dad. My parents were both very supportive of my career, and of me as an art student, but neither of them pushed me down this path.

I think there was a “spark'' moment when I knew I wanted to be a jewelry designer. When I first got into college and was thinking more seriously about designing jewelry as my job, my mom told me that she was glad I’d figured out what I wanted to do. So she took me to Swarovski and got me jewelry. I’d never had expensive jewelry, and it was the first kind of jewelry I’d ever gotten from my mom. I think that kind of sparked me up. It would be so cool if I could go to the department store and see my design sitting there. It motivated me to become a jewelry designer.

What have you seen change in yourself as a designer? How has your approach changed?

I’m able to work more on the products at HOLDEN and take time to think and develop new ideas. I’m very motivated here, much more than I was at the other job. At my old company, I was always seeing customers - sales and office management were the most important part of the job. But now, I’m more focused on jewelry design. I can do more research and see what’s going on with the jewelry industry. Because of the sales experience, I have a better idea of how I need to approach designs. I get to think more about new designs and what I can bring to the table.

What do you predict happening in the jewelry industry in the future?

People are now looking for something that’s very unique. They want to design their own jewelry - something really special. They want to choose their diamond, their engagement ring, and their band separately. I think that they don’t want their engagement rings to be very similar to others. Simple, sustainable, recycled - that’s what's important to customers right now. Our company is doing that, which is very cool. I think more ring customizations will get big soon, too.

Jeeyun's Favorite Ring- The Octagon

What’s your favorite piece that you’ve designed for HOLDEN?

The Octagon. This is one of my favorites - I think it’s very unique. Not many people have the same type of ring as me. I like how it’s angled and I like the structure.

Because it's Women's History Month, we want to understand how different people celebrate it and what it means to them. Talk to us about how you experience the month and how women are impacting your industry.

Growing up, I didn’t have that much experience celebrating this month. It isn’t a thing in Korea. Until I got to HOLDEN, I wasn’t really sure what the month was about. But as I’ve grown to understand it and time has passed, I just keep thinking about how women in society are getting more opportunities to do what they really like for their jobs.

I think that in the jewelry industry, there used to be more men in business. But in the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of women coming into the industry compared to when I first started. It’s very interesting - it’s good and is bringing in a new vibe. I think it will still need time to really change things, though. The Diamond District in Manhattan is very traditional and old-fashioned. It’ll change slowly.

I'm not sure if it's a good idea to totally push away the traditional or the old stuff. I just think that the new generation and old generation have to be more cooperative and combined and create some sort of synergy.

Simon and Andrew are very young co-founders in the jewelry industry. I think that if we can meet our vendors, help them develop their systems, and be able to get feedback on our newer designs - if those things all mix - I think that the jewelry industry will have a great future.

Jeeyun Kang

We love it when people brag about themselves (especially women). So tell us - what are the strongest qualities that you have as a production coordinator and designer?

I know there are a lot of organized people in our office but I think I'm very organized as a production manager. We really need to have our system very organized so we can follow up on each order - like what's going on in our factory. Everything is organized and scheduled, and we never miss our customers' weddings.

I think another strength of mine is that I'm a very easygoing person and can communicate well. It’s important to build up good relationships with our vendors and the people on our team.

I would also say I'm very honest and critical. I think it's very important as a designer that you have your own opinion and have your own way of doing things. Sometimes, Simon and I have different opinions on the design, but as a designer, if I think that there’s a correct way (or a more correct way), I have to be honest with him.

One more thing: I’m very patient and I think I'm pretty good at managing stress. Everyone gets stressed at work, but I think I'm pretty good at managing it.

Want to read more? Check out some other recent blog posts:

Decoded: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

10 Movies Where Jewelry Stole the Show

The Ultimate Wedding Band Buying Guide

Questions? Give us a shout at help@hiholden.com or a ring at 917.719.3634