We stopped by Alex Woo's midtown studio to discuss her story, style and the importance of storytelling in her jewelry.by rachel schwartzmann photos by erin yamagata Jewelry designer Alex Woo is a true purveyor of dainty and delightful jewelry. In this exclusive interview, find out how she got her start and how storytelling plays a role in her life and her business.
Please introduce yourself! In a nutshell who are you and what is your story?
I’m Alex Woo. I was born and raised in New York City, and have an eponymous collection of jewelry made in my very own showroom and workshop located at Rockefeller Center. At a young age I knew I wanted to be some type of artist, but it wasn’t until my formal training at Parsons that I discovered my passion for jewelry. My professor at the time encouraged me to enter a national design competition sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association; entering and competing with professional designers from all across the country, I won the grand prize – and this incredible honor gave me the vote of confidence and inspired me to launch my own collection.
When did you realize you had an affinity for jewelry design and how have you developed your aesthetic over the years? From the age of 6 instead of playing with toys, I would sit for hours drawing and sketching. My father is a master bench jeweler, so I was raised with a definite appreciation for gems, precious metals and fine craftsmanship. I was probably 8 years old when I designed my first piece; it was a two-tone pendant in silver and brass that I hand cut with a saw and finished on a polishing machine. It really wasn’t until I enrolled at Parsons that I discovered my passion for jewelry design. I first launched my collection in 2001 opting for a clean-line aesthetic and optimism in the feeling of the pieces; since then it has expanded and I know there are endless possibilities to design. I love to tell stories through my designs, and represent different facets of all women. In doing that, I have also been lucky to hear stories from women who have worn my designs for different reasons than my original inspiration. It’s wonderful to hear feedback and suggestions from all my customers and that sometimes inspires my next designs.
What role does storytelling play in your life? Well I personally believe in lucky talismans and sentimental objects that hold meaning – my life path number is 8, and in the Chinese culture, 8 is a very lucky number so it’s one I wear often in my daily life. I also hardly ever leave my house without my Little Letter “a”; many people think it’s because it’s my initial, but it actually represents my son Alexander.
What is one thing you believe every woman should wear on a first date? Many of the pieces that I design reinvent familiar symbols that help my clientele express themselves in a personal and unique way. I believe every woman should wear something that’s classic with a fresh twist, modern and bold enough to share her personal story. Especially on a first date, you are trying to make a first impression of who you are – so perhaps it’s my Little Paw, and with that you are already sharing your love for animals. I’ve even been told that many times, my pieces are conversation starters in bars. For example, one girl told me that she was wearing her favorite lucky number, and guys were instantly coming up to her – asking her what that little number 5 meant. So I hope that in some way, my pieces have sparked some exciting romances…