I’m excited to recently have the pleasure to interview the super sweet jewelry designer Annie of Cubannie Links recently for my first spotlight interview! Annie is a one woman force that does her own design, shipping and sales for her independent jewelry line Cubannie Links (named after her name Annie and Cuban heritage) that has been seen on everyone from Rihanna to Alicia Keys since it’s start back in just 2007.
Her jewelry has been featured in magazines from Essence to XXL to Teen Vogue and is now available through an online boutique on Karmaloop.
I wanted to interview Annie not only because she makes hot jewelry, but because of the fact that she took a risk in leaving her job to do something she loves, which I’m sure we all have thought about doing! How inspirational and motivating is it to hear about someone that not only took the risk, but made it and in a short time!
Make sure to check her out in the newest issue of Giant Magazine also.
What motivated you to take the risk in leaving your job to start your own jewelry line?
Just thinking about what if I want a family or to get married, am I going to work 8am-8pm everyday? That really scared me, I was like I gotta make a plan because that’s not going to make me happy.
What 3 words describe what pushed you at that time?
I was desperate, ambitious and ready for a change. I had to do something about it. I was making good money before but a salary and a check isn’t going to make me happy, or keep me and my family together when I have one. I had to think, is this something I’m going to do one day when I have kids and get married, is this going to make me and my family happy? I was just thinking the worse.
You do everything with your jewelry line yourself, how do you manage that?
It’s different because to me its more of a leisure than a 9-5. With jewelry, you make it when you have to make it so it doesn’t feel like work. Everyone around me is supportive so I don’t have to worry about deadlines. It’s not something that I I don’t want to do or something that stresses me out at all. Even if I have to make 200 pieces today and tomorrow, it may take a few days or a week but it doesn’t hurt it, it doesn’t feel as bad as having to be in the office and having to speed because my boss is going to get mad at me.
Its more flexible and its definitely more hours but it doesn’t matter because in the long run its just me and my family. Its not a 9-5, its a whenever to whenever but it doesn’t hurt to stay late or stay up because I’m with my family. Its not like I’m stuck in an office by myself and stressed out. Its a comfortable lifestyle to be at home working so its not stressful.
So you didn’t even make jewelry before starting the line right?
Well, no…..how desperate am I right! I was very lucky to find something that I enjoyed.
What advice would you give someone that wants to get into designing jewelry? Your a good example because most people would assume you would already have to know how to design before getting into the industry.
I’m definitely not trained in anyway. I just did what felt natural to me. For anyone, whatever comes out of your creativity, go for it. If there is something coming out of you, do it because its your own translation of your art. Yes I didn’t go to FIT and I didn’t go to a fashion school, but I’m lucky to have what’s inside of me and the people around me that are supportive.
Your jewelry is versatile and ranges from rosary gun necklaces to leather hoop earrings. Where do you pull inspiration from?
I would say in the beginning I was inspired by the jewelry I liked but as I got more into it I became inspired by celebrities. I was thinking, if I can get it on celebrities I’m going to make something they haven’t seen before. I was thinking about first impressions as the most important, so when I would make something I would think I’m going to make this for lets say Alicia Keys or Rihanna and I’m going to put it together and their going to love it. So I was more inspired by the people I wanted to give it to or sell it to since they were the ones that are going to help me somehow.
So you were already thinking about creating jewelry for people that in the long run really did end up wearing your line! How did they discover your jewelry?
Its been a lot of finding the right people that could get it to them. The number one people that have helped me are stylists, they are my best friends and the people I pray to at night! Those are the people that will support you if they like it and push it to whoever they are styling. My boyfriend was the first one that helped me get into a magazine. He doesn’t like styling girls but he loved my jewelry, he styled it first and then all the other stylists started coming.
Would you say it helped a lot having connections at your previous job with Roc-A-Wear? If someone didn’t have that experience would you say it would be harder for them to break into the industry?
No, Roc-A-Wear had nothing to do with my connections. Whats good is if your designing, the best person to talk to is a stylist. If your designing something for a woman, find women only because they are going to be the ones that are going to wear it. If your selling bikinis you want to find stylist that are women that want a bikini because if that stylist buys that bikini or gets it for free, their going to tell all their friends where they got it and they are going to put it in the next issue of what she is working with or the next celebrity she is styling.
Your currently working with Missbehave and also with Complex, what would your biggest goal with the line be?
I just want it to be in more stores internationally. I’m not really going to say I want it to be in any one store, that’s not what I’m interested in right now. I’m more interested in it being all around the world, not just mass produced but available in high end boutiques or those low key spots.
How did your boutique on Karmaloop come about?
The funny thing is the Karmaloop PR, Gio liked my necklace her boyfriend bought her as a gift. The owner saw it and really liked it so it was a word of mouth thing. They didn’t intend to want to pick up my collection but they did because they saw one of the girls wearing it which is awesome so I owe it all to her, that’s why I’m in Karmaloop, which is amazing. And she is Cuban too so I loved her a little extra!
What is the biggest seller that you have? Would you say that its your links bracelets?
No, I think the biggest sellers are the Rosary Guns and the Bullet Earrings which are cool. Also the Coco Knockers. They are acrylic earrings that are my lightweight twist to door knockers. They are big, not heavy, have two tones to it and are super fresh, they are really 80s.
I heard you chased down M.I.A to give her a pair and she ended up wearing them.
Yeah those are the exactly ones I’m talking about. I did chase her down kind of but she doesn’t know that. That was really fun, it taught me a lesson. I was with my bboyfriend when it happened and he was like we are not leaving until you do it and your going to miss your opportunity and you may not get another chance. So, anytime I have an opportunity to give someone my card I do since its not going to hurt.
Now who was the first celebrity to wear your jewelry? How did you even find out?
I had just met the stylist that was styling the cover shoot for Vibe Vixen, which ended up being the last issue. She invited me and told me Rihanna just saw my rosary necklace and wants it so she pretty much gave it to her because she loved it so much. She told me to just come and bring a bag of jewelry.
I just showed up and waited for her to finish and pretty much right before she left she gave me like 5 minutes and saw all my jewelry and bought some stuff. It was pretty much last minute, if I hadn’t of showed up I wouldn’t have met her or sold her stuff. Things like that didn’t happen to me. In order to even make the shoot I had to take a cab from Brooklyn and I was hesitant to go because I kept thinking what if I don’t make it. It was just crazy so it was one of those moments where you took a chance and it worked out. All the girls bought something from me and Rihanna bought a couple hundred dollars from me and then I left and was like, wow! I was like what if my girl didn’t call me to come, it just changed the whole day, it was the day to talk about for a year!