Heidi An has worked for some seriously cool fashion companies (you probably shop there monthly) and now focuses her time and energy into her beautiful and affordable jewelry line, Alimonada. Handmade in Brooklyn, Heidi uses beautiful materials that are handpicked from her native Brazil. What really made an impact on me was that she generously donates 10% of all proceeds to “Casa de Graca” (Grace House), a temporary shelter for local girls from underprivileged families in Brazil. Keep reading to learn more about the creative and generous designer behind the fun jewelry line.
Let's start at the beginning. How did you get into jewelry design? Are you formally trained, self-taught, or some combination of the two?
I’ve been a fashion designer for over 11 years, designing for retailers like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. When I moved to New York a year ago, I decided to start making my own jewelry as a hobby. I started receiving a lot of positive feedback, and that's when I decided to start my own shop.
I'm inspired everyday by things around me - it could be anything from a jacket to an art exhibition - but I think Brazil has had the biggest influence on my designs because I grew up there. I think you can see a bit of it in my pieces. Colors, music, the fashion scene, and people on the streets all contribute to create something different and new.
10% of proceeds from Alimonda jewelry sales go to "Casa da Graca" (Grace House), a temporary shelter for girls from underprivileged families in Brazil. Can you tell us more about this and what made you decide to include this generous aspect to your jewelry line?
A local judge places girls at Casa da Graça if they have been abandoned, neglected, and/or abused by their parents or guardians. Some of girls’ parents are unable to provide adequate living condition for their children due to extreme poverty and others have escaped from street life. Even when a girl is fortunate enough to return to her home, there is very little social assistance available to her family, which is the biggest challenge.
This past January I went on a mission trip to this shelter and spent 12 days with these girls, and it really became big part of my heart.
Being a jewelry designer, what do you like best about your job? What are some of the most challenging parts of running your own business?
What I like most about my job, is that I am able to create new designs. I just love to spend hours thinking and playing with the materials until I find a design that I like and that I think people will like. It makes me very happy to see people liking my jewelry.
I think the most challenging part of this business is creating awareness about my shop, just getting the word out there. This is a very competitive business.
What is your typical day like?
I am usually making jewelry or going errands for inspiration. Oh, and I walk my dog three times a day :)
PS - Bloggers love Alimonada! Check out some blogger shots from Alimonda's website: