Chances are that Roxanne Assoulin has showed up on your Instagram feed more than once. Her signature bright “tile” baubles have captivated everyone from celebrities to fashion industry icons and editors. When you spot Roxanne Assoulin jewelry in the wild (aka on the streets of a major metropolitan city) you’re immediately aware that said man or woman wearing Assoulin’s pieces is an insider who is in the know.
But what is it they know? This insider knows that Roxanne Assoulin is not just an Instagram phenomenon but rather a fashion industry vet whose creative genius organically spread like wildfire through the social media platform. The brand was not made for Instagram; instead, it grew as a result of Instagram.
Read along as we chat with Roxanne about Instagram, her creative process, Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine, mood boards and more!
Choupette Social Girl (CSG): What was the creative process that led to your unique design aesthetic?
Roxanne Assoulin (RA): I call it the perfect storm and other people call it a happy accident. I have been designing jewelry for close to 40 years and I’ve probably had the same design aesthetic for close to 40 years. It has not changed. It is what I’ve always liked to do but I couldn’t get the right medium. I tried to do it different ways. When I do find things [in the archives], I’m like I did this so many years ago!
I started to play with tiles I had [in my office] from the late 80’s. They were very small handmade ceramic tiles in my favorite colors. I always used them for color charts [when I did private label]. One day I was in a meeting and I put all of them in a row and I just looked and said, “This would be such a pretty bracelet!”
I promise you, these tile have been sitting in my office for 25 years. I take them out all the time and always play with them but I never made a straight line. It was that one moment. It was a happy accident.
CSG: How did social media open the doors, turning it from a happy accident into a company?
RA: I was out to dinner with two of my three sons and they were trying to teach me Instagram. This was around 2013. They said, “Mom you would really like this!” I use to do mood boards in 1999 and in the early 2000’s and they knew I would really like it. I said, “I don’t know how to do this. I am not technological.”
During the meal they kept bothering me and said, “Just do it!” So, I started doing it and what happened is, I started getting all these followers. When I started doing the bracelets, I already had around 8,000 followers, which at the time was okay. A solid organic following.
When it [Instagram] launched, I didn’t have a website. I called in some of my good friends; I spoke to Rosie [Assouline], Leandra Medine, and Selby Drummond from Vogue. I asked them, “Do you like this?” Everybody loved it and said they’d never seen anything like it.
I remember John Targon from Baja East who has also been a friend. He was kind of hysterical before one of his shows because he had no jewelry. I said, “I have these tiles, these bracelets. Let me see if you like them.” He said, “Let me see if the stylist likes it.” I sent it to them and they loved it. We did it in their colors.
It was the perfect storm!
CSG: Do you credit Leandra Medine for being a part of your organic success?
RA: I credit everybody. I credit her after posting on Instagram. Leandra Medine came in [to the office] and she put on like 14 of them. I told her not to post anything until next Friday and she said of course! At 6 o’clock that night my Instagram started blowing up. I called my friend Adam and told him to put up a website ASAP! So he did and we sold out in a day. We then waited 3 months to get new stock in and we sold out again in 5 days.
CSG: How did you come up with the Play RA bracelet making parties?
RA: Internally we talked about doing press days. I was sitting down talking to Juliana Salazar and we decided they had to do something [at the press event]. I said, “What if they made something? Made something like I did? If they made bracelets.” We both agreed it would be so cute. Editors came and made bracelets and no one was on their cellphone. Everyone was talking to each other. They were laughing, they were absorbed! They had the best time. It was like a little meeting of friends to do art.
Then, when they posted [about the Play RA party] people started saying they wanted to come. So, we tried it for the public. For the first one we sold out in 2 days. We were lucky!
CSG: What is currently on your mood board that’s next for the brand?
RA: My mood board has stayed the same for the past 15 years. It’s the same girl for me. It’s what inspires me. I find [inspiration in] colorways and shapes. I can be looking at someone’s bathroom tile and be like, “OMG that’s such a pretty shade. Why don’t we do something like that?” I can be looking at a stripe sweater and say “That’s such a pretty stripe!”
The thing that inspires me most is when I’m relaxed. If I’m sitting at the beach, I come up with ideas. I look at trend color but it’s more of an evolution. It’s like writing a poem in a way. I don’t have the goal in mind. They say there’s a difference between a craftsman and an artist. The craftsman knows what the end result is going to be and the artist doesn’t.