For this edition of Designer Dossier, we’re featuring Portland, OR designer, Brehan Todd (“Bree-yawn”), who’s been with CrowdJewel since our humble beginnings. Her original and on-trend designs have garnered her three CrowdJewel wins, the latest of which, the Armor Metal Bib Necklace, has made hers one of the first designs to be manufactured and sold on CrowdJewel! We sat down with Brehan to discuss her story, her inspiration and future plans.
CrowdJewel: Your formal training is in fashion design, and you’ve paid your fashion dues with some big names in New York, NY. What inspired you to leave it all behind to start your own line in Portland, OR?
Brehan Todd: When I was in New York, I was constantly inspired by things there. The problem is, the lifestyle is so hectic, it can be hard to focus and find time to design well and still have a life. I learned a lot working for other designers but ultimately, I knew that was not my goal. I wanted to start my own line, which is much more feasable in the smaller, more local and vibrant independent design scene than New York in some ways.
Metal Armor Bib Necklace (Design-to-Manufacture Challenge)
CJ: Who, past or present, has had the greatest influence on your career?
BT: The person that has had the most influence on my career is my mother, for sure. I always loved watching her be creative. Growing up, she was always making something. My mom has an impeccable eye and her own unique style. That influenced me to develop my own look and preferences at an early age, to notice and study details. She encouraged me to explore my own creativity at an early age. She put me in ballet class and art classes from the time I was three and gave me confidence in trying things and failing, or succeeding, but always to keep trying.
Bella Notte Necklace (Black Swan Challenge)
CJ: What are your favorite qualities in a woman to design jewelry for?
BT: When I’m designing for women, I love them to be unique and adventurous with style, to have and eye for detail and to appreciate something made by hand. I love it when women know what they want and are secure in themselves, their beauty and style, no matter their age or demographic. Confidence and style are limitless if you are willing to try anything.
Garden Cocktail Ring (Spring Cocktail Ring Challenge)
CJ: You’re working with Brad Kreuger, fellow entrepreneur and art curator who was formerly with Anthropologie, to design a showroom and gallery space. Tell us about it.
BT: Brad and I are working on a creative project right now called Buckskin (see the Buckskin & Brehan blog). It’s evolving and changing all the time, which is what we hope to continue. Right now we are curating a collection of paintings, sculpture art, and jewelry. The light in the studio happens to be perfect for shooting still and video projects, so we’ve been taking advantage of that lately.
Recently we did a beautiful wedding shoot with Amy Mcmullen that will be shown soon, and last week we participated in a project for Apple with Intel. The possibilities are endless as far as what we can create and accomplish together. We are really excited and passionate about representing art that we think is relevant and not shown elsewhere in Portland. We are also thrilled to have a showroom space to show my line and interact with customers.
Metal Armor Bib Necklace in Brehan’s studio
CJ: Your line is dedicated to sustainability, sourcing locally, and hand-crafted design. What attracts you to CrowdJewel, an international platform where designs are sourced and sold all over the world?
BT: I’m extremely happy to be working with CrowdJewel to produce this necklace I created! I made it with the thought that it was going to be something different than my other collections, for Fall 2012. I wanted to add some edge and toughness to the usual whimsical femininity of my jewelry designs. I feel like this piece represents my favorite elements in fashion right now, with a classic sensibility.
I am committed to working with my personal ethics in mind. Sustainability is slowly becoming the norm but is still difficult for most people to access around the world. In order for my voice to be heard and my designs to become known, I feel that it’s important to work with other people with great ideas as well. I support the CrowdJewel site as a new and entirely interactive way for people around the world to buy something that is created by one person and turned into a much bigger possibility. The power in working together is the most important part of sustainability and what will potentially create actual change.
CJ: What are you working on right now and what’s next for Brehan Todd?
BT: Right now I’m focused on solidifying my collection for Holiday 2012, which is one of my favorite collections I’ve ever done. I’m really enjoying working with brides on custom accessories and jewelry. That is a lot of fun because each project is so different and I get to collaborate with the wedding team to create the ultimate experience for the client. Buckskin is almost ready to have it’s opening event, so that’s really where my efforts are right now. Going forward, I feel really positive about the future and what it holds for us.
Thanks again to Brehan Todd for being a long-standing CrowdJeweler! We’re thrilled that she’s one of our first designs ever to be produced and sold on CrowdJewel. For more information about Brehan and her designs, please visit her site BrehanTodd.com.