Few jewelry designers can say that they made their first sale in the bathroom of a Neiman Marcus, but for Danielle Yadegar, owner and designer of Bea Millen jewelry, that was exactly what happened.
While wearing her own hand-crafted, rose- and yellow-gold bracelet, Yadegar, 26, was stopped by a fellow customer who asked whether she could buy the piece right then and there — and called later that day to buy a second piece.
The episode gave Yadegar the final push to turn a casual idea into an ambitious business venture.
Yadegar, whose father, Devis Yadegar, works as a high-end jewelry designer for private clients around the world, had been an associate editor for Cosmopolitan, working closely with the magazine's fashion director.
Though her father made sure that all his children were well-versed in the jewelry business, it wasn't until she was asked to design an engagement ring for a friend that she began seriously considering a career as a jewelry designer.
"I didn't go to school for it. I was born and raised around it — we would travel to different countries and go to jewelry shows," Yadegar says. "In our home there were always business deals and clients and calls. It was a daily part of our lives."
She created Bea Millen in March 2012 and in just one year has sold more than 700 pieces and gained national exposure — Carly Rae Jepsen, for instance, wore a Bea Millen diamond heart bracelet on the cover of Cosmopolitian's January 2013 edition, and Marisa Zanuck has been spotted wearing some of Yadegar's bracelets on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
Yadegar named her company after her grandmother and great-aunt in tribute to their elegant senses of style. Bea Millen, which is available at Moondance Jewelry Gallery in Santa Monica and at beamillen.com, features delicate, feminine pieces of jewelry, all hand-crafted in Los Angeles. Pieces include delicate heart cuffs, marquise sapphire rings and turquoise necklaces.
Prices start at $160, with some custom-made engagement rings going beyond $10,000.
"The inspiration for my line is fashion pieces that women and girls can wear every day and be comfortable in, but pieces that are still fine and can be passed on and become family heirlooms," says Yadegar. "They are accessible to everyone, but they can still hold sentimental value."
The process of crafting each piece is an organic and personal process for Yadegar. Occasionally a specific stone will inspire an entire piece, but more often, it's Yadegar's clients and the people she knows who inspire many of the designs — ensuring that clients never have to compromise quality for price.
Revealing her investment in the successful line she created at a young age, Yadegar explains, "Certain people have inspired certain pieces — it's a really personal process and one that I'm heavily involved in. It's not just a business for me.
I feel such a sentimental attachment to every piece and every sale.
"As much as jewelry is about fashion, fun and showing your personality and who you are, it's also something that is sentimental. Women, I think, have a very interesting and special relationship with their jewelry. It's been incredible to be a part of that."