Anita Berisha is a jewelry line that translates minimal lines and natural flora into wearable art. Founded by the self-taught designer in New York City in 2016, her eponymous brand is known for it's playful and unique take into bringing you closer to nature, architecture, and the complexity of shapes, textures, and forms. Each collection has its own story to tell that evokes the wearer into starting a conversation.
The best thing is to give Anita the floor so that she can tell us in her own words why Anita Berisha jewelry attracts customers all over the world.
Tanja Beljanski: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Anita Berisha: I was born and raised in a small city of Peja in Kosovo. I’m 29 years old. I moved to US when I turned 21, lived/worked in Zion National Park, UT for three months; it was the best experience of my life and the most beautiful place my eyes have ever seen! I then moved to New York and hustled a few different jobs until I was able to unrestrictedly create my business. Being an immigrant with no circle of people that you know, in a city so big was really scary in the beginning, but I adapted with the different cultures and speed of life pretty quick! Now it’s been eight years since I’ve been living here. I reside in Brooklyn, NY.
TB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a jewelry designer? What did you do to pursue your dream?
AB: I actually never thought that I wanted to be a Jewelry Designer. Where I come from jewelry is something that you buy for special occasions, from small family-run metalsmith stores that sell fine, basic styles.
I studied Business Administration as my major, but I was never fulfilled by doing just that. I knew at an early age that I wanted to do something that is different. Then in the summer of 2011 out of boredom during the school break, I went through my scraps of old jewelry that I had, broke them down and re-created them into something else. I created fashion jewelry pieces that I wanted to wear but I couldn’t get them anywhere, because fashion jewelry was not something that people did back then in my country! I remember making a few pieces and thought: “OK this is what is missing in the market so I want to give it a try and start selling them just for fun.” I posted them on Facebook and I sold out everything within the day! It was such an unforgettable feeling.
That whole year went really well. In my free time I kept making simple but unique pieces that I had so much fun creating and this caught the media and magazine’s attention. But then I moved to US the following summer and all of that was left behind. I never stopped creating or designing new pieces even though I was working different jobs and still trying to figure out what did I want to pursue as my career. I quit my job in 2016 because I was not happy with how my time was being spent. I was aiming for something better, a higher pay, a higher position but being an immigrant with documents in the process you are very restricted to certain things. While job hunting, I decided to open a website and created two collections that year. It definitely wasn’t a hit (laughing), but I didn’t care about any of that, because the creative process was making me feel so good. When I published my third “Earrings” SS17 collection on Instagram, that is when things started to change! A few pieces went viral, my followers started growing rapidly and so did the sales. I spent the whole 2017 working up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, fulfilling orders and teaching myself new skills, creating new pieces that people around the globe loved! That is when I saw an opportunity to actually consider pursing this path as my career.
TB: You are self-thought jewelry designer. You told me your life has completely changed when you started your brand. How?
AB: That’s correct. I used to watch Youtube videos on metalsmithing, soldering, hammering etc. I bought some courses online on Stone-setting. And also, I took a few weeks of Wax carving classes in NYC. I think I always had the skill in me, I just never knew that I did until I worked on something new. My life started changing when my brand gained recognition around the world. Magazines featuring me, stylist started reaching out, my geographic customer base reached to six continents, it was so surreal to me, and still is! A lot of celebrities started following me, with Brie Larson as my first fan. I honestly cried when I chatted with her on Instagram! Then Forbes and Bloomberg Business week reached out for an interview on “How I’m using Instagram as a direct-to-consumer platform to grow my business”. That was so special to me.
TB: What’s your earliest jewelry memory?
AB: I remember making my first pair of earrings when I was in 8th grade. My mom had bought these simple beaded earrings but she didn’t really like them, so while she was getting ready for a wedding, I took them and rearranged them to look like little grapes. She loved and wore them with her dress that night. Funny how this grape shaped jewelry is still what follows me around to this day! (smiles)
TB: Let’s talk about your style. How can you explain your love of natural forms?
AB: My style revolves around my surroundings a lot. But if I can describe it with three words, it would be these: Minimal, Classic and Playful. My love for natural forms and objects is endless. Most of my ideas are enhanced when I explore and study shapes found in nature, like: water, ice, flowers, trees, rocks, different kind of landscapes, shapes and forms. When I merge all of these together, I try to create collections that bring people closer to their surroundings that sometimes go unnoticed in our eyes.
TB: What does creativity mean to you?
AB: Creativity to me has multiple meanings. It means to explore your thoughts and putting words into a piece without saying much. It means that when you give yourself space to make mistakes, you can allow what follows to embrace it as creative process, because to create is to constantly learn something new. It also means that creativity is in all of us, and allowing yourself to explore without any judgment or fear opens so many doors that you didn’t know you can enter.
TB: What is your favorite space in your studio?
AB: My favorite spot in my studio is the pin board wall. It changes very often, but that spot means that new work is always in the making, ideas flow, inspiration that sometimes is lacking, kind of just speaks out. I love having a place to put my past, current and upcoming work and see how they evolve together.
TB: What is your creative process like? When you design, do you have a person or a muse in mind?
AB: I don’t usually design with a person in mind. I start with an objective idea and kind go from there. My creative process has no template. It changes with every design. Sometimes I lack inspiration for months, sometimes I create a whole collection within a week. I’m very observant of my surroundings and what is actually happening around the world. I try to express my feelings by writing a poem, a story or just roughly sketch until I come up with something that even if it doesn’t look very innovative, it’s still telling a story! When I was researching on FW19 “Earth & Sea” Collection, I was very touched by Global Warming that is affecting our planet and I felt like I’m not able to help much. So, as a tribute to our melting glaciers I created pieces that are ambiguous in a sense; a reminder that by wearing a pair of Iceberg Earrings you’re going to be more conscious about how you pollute and live on this planet and also a reminder that natural beauty can be so fragile if left unnoticed.
TB: To whom is the Anita Berisha jewelry collection designed for? What do you hope people feel when they wear your designs?
AB: Anita Berisha is designed for the women and men who want to feel different, sophisticated, empowered, happy, careless, modern and classy in the same time.
TB: Where is your jewelry being made? Who makes it?
AB: Our jewelry is made 100% in NYC. I design and then hand-carve every piece into wax. We’re working with local casters in Manhattan who produce them. Assembly and production take place in our home-studio in Brooklyn. A portion of the brass is recycled. Some pieces might cost more to make, but using more sustainable materials is a key factor in my brand.
TB: Where can we buy the Anita Berisha Jewelry?
AB: Anita Berisha Jewelry can be bought at our website www.anitaberisha.com we ship worldwide. Also, we’re in small and big retailer stores and online in Europe, Australia, Asia. Recently we became a part of the online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter which has been such an amazing growth for us!
TB: What pushes you forward?
AB: Reading my customers notes when purchasing my designs has always been the biggest push forward for me. Knowing that I’ve made someone’s day, wedding, anniversary, graduation better by wearing something that they bought from me, makes me so emotional. The idea that a piece of jewelry can be held so dearly and put a smile on people’s faces tells me that I should never stop creating unique designs.
Photos: Olga Ushakova, Noli Kollqaku and Anita Berisha
* The story “Opening the Door of Creativity” by Tanja Beljanski first appeared in the July 2020 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.