Jen Tran, founder of jewelry line, Millie & Noah, named after her children, contacted me around Mother’s Day. She was so lovely and kind when she connected with me on Instagram, I immediately knew I would adore her. Jen isn’t only sweet, but overwhelmingly generous and inspiring. I really admire women who have passion and take true pride in what they create, and Jen’s jewelry is a labor of love. Jen asked that she connect with my daughters to make an extra special, custom ring for me to present on Mother’s Day. Each of my girls was to design a band, working closely with her from start to finish, so they understand the process of a real craftsman. She sent them art kits with instructions, and even documented the process in a beautiful scrapbook for me, outlining my girl’s hard work and design. As a special surprise for my daughters, Jen made each of them a necklace with miniature versions of my ring to wear and remember what they made for their Mama! It’s the most special gift I’ve ever received, and such an incredible hands-on learning experience for my children.
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We are officially launching our business in the fall but I have been making fine jewelry in NYC for close to ten years.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I have always loved fashion and jewelry but over the years, jewelry design has become an emotional refuge, something I would turn to when things would get tough. I initially started designing when my son was born - he was in the NICU for over six months and had a countless number of surgeries. It was difficult to process the uncertainty of the situation and keep myself from falling apart. Designing jewelry and honing that craft became an outlet for all the stress and kept me emotionally sane.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
No matter how much jewelry I have, the pieces I cherish most are the ones that connect me to my son. I found that to be true for every mom I designed for. Most options however, are generic and require some shoe horning to be meaningful. Millie and Noah allows anyone to create a one-of-a-kind piece, with her/his own symbolism and meaning. It is meant to be a thought-provoking and emotionally evocative journey to personally create beautiful jewelry.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Our primary focus is to create a memorable experience for our customer. Everyone is different and we customize the process to our client. A lot of people are intimidated by the bespoke process and worry they aren’t creative enough. We break down the information into a digestible and fun format. After talking to Candice, we created a design kit that would suit her busy lifestyle and allow her small children to play an active role in the design of the ring. Candice read the instructions to the girls but the designs are 100% their own. At the same time, we also want to create a piece of jewelry that is cool, unique, and well crafted. All our jewelry is handcrafted in 18K gold and precious stones that we source across the world. We like to use gems that are normally found in haute joiallerie or we use new techniques to coat the gold in fun bright colors like fuschia.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Our biggest impact is helping our clients filter what is most meaningful to them and presenting it in a beautiful design that matches their personal aesthetics.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Seeing a client’s reaction when they receive the jewelry is a lot of fun. I also love working with husbands who are more than happy to be guided through the decision process.
How do you benefit mamas?
I hope every mom is able to feel a unique connection with their children through the jewelry we make. Wherever possible, we love to include the children in the design process. Seeing the girls’ excitement in having Candice wear their design was simply amazing.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
A client with a busy career once told me that I saved him a lot of time while making him look like a thoughtful husband. That stuck with me, the importance of adding a personal touch to everything I design.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
Jill Layfield, who co-founded the Tamara Mellon brand, is an inspiring leader and has been a great mentor. She is incredibly supportive of other women and it shows in everything that she does. She has consistently given me constructive and actionable feedback, which is something I did not really get in my prior career.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
My son has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Like any mother, I worry a lot about him and I often need to remind myself how far he has come from the NICU days.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Accepting help from others – it’s impossible to do everything perfectly!