Carelle designer Chana Regev takes a modern-meets-masterpiece approach to luxury jewelry design. The entire collection features an effortlessly chic aesthetic, and yet the road to Chana’s success was not always smooth sailing! It’s hard to believe, given Carelle’s multiple awards, their distinction as the first ever jewelry company to receive the “Made in New York” designation and the brand’s long list of loyal clientele, but Chana once had to walk up and down 5th Avenue, selling her wares from door-to-door! Chana credits her success to the support she’s always received from friends, family and her staff, hard work and, of course, beautiful jewelry with exceptional quality!
COUTURE: You come from a “jewelry family,” were you involved in the industry in any way as a child? Formally or informally?
Chana Regev: As the fourth generation in my family to work in the Gem industry, jewelry runs in my blood. As a child I was involved in my family’s business, assorting gemstones, and learning the in’s and out’s. The knowledge I gained combined with my ever-growing passion for design led me to continue the family tradition and diversify into jewelry. I’m honored to be the first and only female of the group to design and launch my own collections.
COUTURE: At what point did you decide you wanted to strike out and launch your own collection?
CR: Right after college, I decided to strike out on my own. I was more interested in jewelry and design, than just the gems. I wanted to build a house around the stones and not just sell them individually.
The 70’s was not an easy market place for women searching for careers, so with the help of my college roommate Marji, we created a capsule collection of stud gem earrings and went up and down Fifth Avenue, essentially knocking on doors until every last piece was sold. To this day, the heritage of the brand remains deeply rooted in hard work, quality of materials, strong female roles, and the city that inspired us, New York.
COUTURE: From the time you decided to launch to actually launching your collection, were there any obstacles that you had to overcome?
CR: When I first started working in the jewelry industry, it was a very male dominated industry. Marji and I were two women with Master’s degrees, and there weren’t many opportunities available for educated women at the time. It was a challenge to show men that we were equals. However, with much perseverance and hard work we proved ourselves as formidable competitors.
COUTURE: What type of support did you get from friends and/or family in launching your collection?
CR: I received a lot of support from both my family and friends when I launched my first collection. Everybody wanted to help.
COUTURE: What type of support do you continue to receive in running and developing your business?
CR: Great teamwork from my employees.
COUTURE: Did/do you have any mentors, male or female?
CR: My husband. Always. And Jeanne Daniel, an amazing and creative entrepreneur.
COUTURE: Are there any on-going challenges you feel you have to overcome specifically as it relates to being a women entrepreneurs?
CR: We live in a world that is constantly changing and evolving. In today’s world, I believe that women entrepreneurs are as respected as men.
COUTURE: If another aspiring female entrepreneur were to approach you and ask you for some words of advice, what would you tell her?
CR: I would advise her to do a lot of research in all aspects of the business before entering it. And then continue researching constantly. I understand the challenges in breaking through in this industry, so I try to lend a hand with the Carelle-WJA Grant in memory of my Muse, Brooke Tivol-McGrath, which provides a grant for a female designer in her first 5 years of business.
COUTURE: Do you have a core philosophy for running your business?
CR: “When one door closes, another one opens.” I have found that to be true over and over again in my life.
COUTURE: Carelle was the first business to obtain the coveted “Made in New York” distinction, what inspired you to accomplish that goal?
CR: The goal behind the “Made in New York” distinction was very important to me. In an industry where so much of the manufacturing was moving abroad, I found it important to share with the world that New York was still a very capable hub for making beautiful and inspired jewelry. The consumer is constantly enthralled with made in Italy or France within the fashion realm. I wanted everybody to understand that New York should be in the forefront of fashion. I had hoped that the campaign would bring to light the importance of jewelry manufacturing in New York, that it would leave more jobs in NY that were going abroad.