Couture Musings

Designing Women Profile–Doryn Wallach

While designing jewelry may be a second career for artist Doryn Wallach, she has always had a passion for jewelry and has long been drawn to its history and the stories it can tell. Continually inspired by Art Deco motifs, as well as her penchant for beautiful home design, Doryn’s continually evolving collection features bold shapes, contracting textures and interesting gemstones. As an entrepreneur who is new to the fine jewelry industry, Doryn was immediately drawn to the sense of community she feels as a jewelry designer, and she remains appreciative of the incredible support she’s received from the moment she launched her collection.

COUTURE: Prior to launching your fine jewelry collection, you spent nearly two decades in the world of interior design and other entrepreneurial businesses but always had a personal love affair with jewelry! What was the “tipping point” that made you decide to turn your previously personal passion into a brand new career? 

Doryn Wallach: The tipping point for me was probably Hurricane Sandy, back in 2012. Our family had just moved into our home on Manhattan’s West Side and the floodwaters swept through the entire first floor, destroying everything. While our lives were never in danger and we were certainly more fortunate than others, the chaos brought a lot of perspective to my life. It made me think about what really makes me happy. Interior design was all I had known since I graduated college, but I felt my life had another calling. So after I saw through the renovation and redesign of our house — my last major interior design project, as it turns out— I decided to focus on my true passion: jewelry. Playing around with stones and settings had long been a hobby of mine. When I was a kid, my mother used to take me on trips to the jeweler where she’d redesign old pieces. In fact, my grandmother and great grandmother custom-designed most of their own jewelry. All of this came together when I redesigned a ring with stones from a piece I never wore, and the jeweler asked if I ever considered designing jewelry. That’s when a light bulb went off, and I haven’t looked back!

COUTURE: From the time you decided to launch to actually launching your collection, were there any obstacles that you had to overcome? 

DW: One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started was the lack of knowledge of the jewelry industry from a business perspective. I had run businesses before, so I knew the basics of bookkeeping and marketing, but I had to figure out how to manage manufacturers, my own retail operation and my company’s social media. Hiring consultants, a bookkeeper and a production manager was huge for me. It’s all still a learning curve. Looking back, I also realize I would have benefited from more bench and technical jewelry drawing classes. I have the benefit of an architectural drawing background, but there’s more I need to learn. Fortunately, I have learned a ton from mentors and from on-the-job experience.

COUTURE: It’s one thing to design pretty jewelry, it’s another thing to become part of an industry…I know from personal experience that the Jewelry Industry is unlink any other! What were some of the most distinctive differences (or similarities!) between this world, and your previous professional world? 

DW: From my very first editor’s preview at Jewelers of America, I could see immediately what a kind and supportive community the jewelry industry is. I have always been a “small group” person and while the jewelry world is not small, it is much more intimate than interior design. There were so many generous people who took me under their wing and offered their advice when I was just starting out.  Interior design is just not the same —it’s a lot more competitive. I never felt the camaraderie I feel in the jewelry industry.

COUTURE: What type of support did you get from friends and/or family in launching your collection? 

DW: I feel so lucky to have so much love and support from friends and family. It’s actually a funny question, though. I had a few other short-lived career paths in my twenties. It seemed I was always chasing after what I thought my passion was, although I couldn’t quite figure it out. Someone recently reminded me that one of my small businesses after college was actually a beaded jewelry businesses — I made big chunky stone necklaces, beaded on wire — it’s sort of crazy that I forgot all about it! Anyway, when I launched my fine jewelry company, my friends and family all said, “OF COURSE, that’s what you SHOULD be doing! How did we not figure that out?!”

COUTURE: What type of support do you continue to receive in running and developing your business?

DW: I feel grateful to have met a handful of incredible editors and stylists who’ve supported my work and helped generate interest in my jewelry. Marion Fasel named me a designer to watch for 2018 on The Adventurine, which was a dream come true. Other highlights this year have been seeing Sarah Jessica Parker wearing one of my vintage pendants in a shoot for the Financial Times and being profiled by Jill Newman on Robb Report.

I also have a small, but amazing team who are as passionate about the jewelry as I am. They are all incredible, and I learn so much from them daily. I should add that my husband, Ty, has always been my number one fan and supported all of my creative endeavors. He jokes about hoping to become my CFO one day.

COUTURE: Did/do you have any mentors, male or female? 

DW: Yes, absolutely, some wonderful female mentors actually! When first getting started, I contacted my alma mater, FIT, who connected me with a jewelry industry veteran, the wonderful Cindy Edelstein. I worked closely with Cindy for two years as I developed my collection and learned more about the business. It was a gift to have met her so early on in my career because she taught me a tremendous amount and kept me from making many mistakes. She passed away in 2016, and I miss her kindness and candor every day. I also worked with designer and FIT instructor Alison Nagasue on my sample development, which I was clueless about when I started. Lauren Kulchinsky Levison of Mayfair Rocks and Mayfair Privé has been a huge supporter. She’s given me so much valuable, honest advice — and we always have a lot of laughs. I’ve also received the help of more experienced designers. One to mention is Melissa Kaye who been an incredible sounding board for me. She couldn’t be more kind and helpful, not to mention ridiculously brilliant and talented.

And while I’m still an emerging designer myself, I’ve already been able to provide advice to a few new designers. It’s been very gratifying to come full circle in this way. When designers go out of their way to help each other, these relationships are like nothing else.

COUTURE: Are there any on-going challenges you feel you have to overcome specifically as it relates to being a female entrepreneur?

DW: In my opinion, the biggest challenge for me is the balance between being a mother and an entrepreneur. I’m sure many designers feel the same way!  As women, we often put a ton of pressure on ourselves, thinking we are supposed to “have it all.” I still feel torn and guilty about anything I miss with my kids; at the same time I feel panicked if I miss anything for work. It’s a vicious cycle. But I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself. I know I am being a role model for my kids, especially my daughter. And I try to let my kids know that I’m doing my best and that no one is perfect — and that I never expect perfection from them, either.

COUTURE: If another aspiring female entrepreneur were to approach you and ask you for some words of advice, what would you tell her? 

DW: Have patience. It has taken me MANY years to understand this. In my twenties when I had started businesses, I wanted instant success. I didn’t have the patience to wait and when things didn’t go my way, I moved on. Maybe it was turning 40 recently, maybe it’s being a mother, maybe it’s just life experience, but I understand now more than ever that overnight success is a rarity, and I am happy to work hard and go with the flow to make sure I am doing things as well as I possibly can.  As Cindy always told me, “Take your time!”

COUTURE: Do you have a core philosophy for running your business? 

DW: Passion and hard work!  I spent many years doing a job I didn’t love, and that’s not a great feeling. First and foremost, I know that if I am passionate about my work, making clients happy and creating beautiful jewelry, I am on the right path. Secondarily, financial success is important too, of course. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t —this isn’t a hobby. Still, I understand that building a successful business takes time, and I am willing and fortunate enough to be in the position to be able to work as hard as possible to achieve that success, whatever that may be!

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Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman is the president of Last Word Communications, which spearheads the public relations for the COUTURE show. A 15+ year veteran of the COUTURE community, Michelle is obsessed with all things jewelry and watch related! To be included in COUTURE Musings, email Michelle at michelle@LastWordComm.com.

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