Around the time the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements were gaining momentum on social media, Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Zahava Ryzman and Molly R. Stern, a veteran Hollywood makeup artist, released a capsule collection of accessible gold baubles bearing one simple phrase: Love Yourself.
It too bore a hashtag that caught on with Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler and others, while promoting a worthy cause: the importance of self-love.
The Sarah Chloe X Molly R. Stern collection of stackable rings, necklaces and bangles, plus its second iteration featuring the words Empower and Inspire (launched July 1), serve as reminders for women to value and stand up for themselves and share the positive messages with others.
In her 30-year, hyper-glam career, Stern has long gone beyond helping women feel beautiful on the outside.
“This is my passion project, realizing that every single woman I’ve ever met — all ages, all backgrounds, all levels of wealth — deals with very constant self-annihilation,” Stern said. “That’s where I’ve grown to understand that it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how much makeup you’re wearing or how much Botox you have — if we don’t feel good on the inside, we don’t feel good on the outside.”
Her job, for which she actually touches people on their faces, breeds an instant intimacy, and that allows the Emmy nominee to see her clients’ vulnerabilities.
“I really feel this is the commonality between all women,” she said. “[They’re all] reaching to find their outer layer of confidence.” It was one of the topics addressed during a December panel Stern and Ryzman participated in alongside Handler, Diane Guerrero and Amanda de Cadenet, among others.
“It was great to hear someone like Chelsea Handler, who is notoriously confident and doesn’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks, so we think, say, ‘I wake up most days and I’m very rude and disrespectful to myself, and yet I know if I don’t get behind myself, I don’t have the power to do my work or my comedy,’” Stern said.
The partnership with Ryzman, Sarah Chloe’s founder and designer, is a “match made in heaven,” said Stern, whose handwriting was converted into gold lettering for the pieces — a “lightning bolt” moment when they were sketching and seeking the perfect font. The pair were introduced by a mutual friend, connected deeply, and felt drawn to create something to promote Stern’s message.
Causing a personal response through jewelry is not a new concept for Ryzman whose pieces often create sentimentality and meaning for wearers. When she had her first daughter, Sarah Chloe, the jewelry industry veteran sought something unique and different in terms of jewelry, so she designed a bangle for herself with Sarah’s initial. People raved about what became the label’s signature style, and she launched a line around it in 2009.
At the time, the “arm party” concept of wearing different bracelets on one arm was gaining traction, and “because it was so fresh and so different, I think it hit a nerve,” said Ryzman, an Angeleno who grew up in New York and created handmade jewelry from supplies she bought at trim and bead stores. “I think it was the perfect storm.”
Signet rings were Sarah Chloe’s next hit signature. “To this day, I always pay attention to what is it that the market and people are looking for,” she said.
Her mission, Ryzman said, has always been to create “wearable, absolutely beautiful jewelry, but I want it to be more than that. I want it to be something of significance.”
Hence working with Stern, who is a “firm believer in the power of words, and I think when you do see it, you start to believe it,” said Ryzman, who loves the idea that their jewelry collaboration pays it forward to anyone who might notice it out in the world.
“Even if you roll your eyes and go, ‘Oh, look at this California mumbo jumbo,’” she said. “Even if it feels like, ‘Oh, pshh, love yourself,’ it’s going in. You said it and now you can’t help thinking it for a second.”
Cara Delevingne, who has worked with Stern for years, said she has taken away much more from Stern than memorable beauty looks. Plus, the supermodel and actress gets to wear the jewelry and share the message behind it.
“What people don’t understand is that the positive energy and laughter and friendship that Molly provides on a job or press tour has helped me to grow in so many ways,” Delevingne said. “Getting the opportunity to wear jewelry from Molly’s collection allows me to share the message that she has instilled in me over our years of collaboration. Molly is a true artist. She pushes the boundaries of what it means to be beautiful.”
The Sarah Chloe look, with its architectural minimalism featuring geometric shapes and clean lines, translated well to the collaboration’s graphic messages. Though Ryzman’s brand makes fine jewelry too, she and Stern decided early on that an accessible price point of $48 to $248 for their jewelry (sold at sarahchloe.com) was of utmost importance. They worked backward to design the gold-plated range. (A selection of pieces also comes in 14-karat gold and tops out at $698.)
Ryzman called attainability “the point.” “This message is for everybody,” she said.
The customer base for the collaboration ranges from teenagers to 70-somethings who are up against the same challenges in loving themselves that many people face daily.
“It’s like an ocean of potential for me to feel bad about myself,” Stern said. “That’s why I’ve tried so hard to be one of the positive forces.
“We all have bad days,” she continued. “It’s not all fluffy. I am a 46-year-old woman with three children. I’ve been married 15 years. Life is a challenge, and the only way to get through it is to dig deep, find some inner power, self-esteem and confidence, and get out there and do our best on any given day.”
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