DEL MAR — Del Mar resident Nadia Kuznetsova was inspired to start her own jewelry brand after a decade in the modeling business.
The brand NadinebyNadia launched last January and has quickly gained attention — it was featured at a New York Fashion Week runway show, for Oxford Fashion Studio, in February.
Kuznetsova is originally from Russia and moved to the states with her mom, dad and older sister when she was 7.
They moved to New York and then eventually to New Jersey.
When she was 12 her mom took her to a modeling audition she had seen in the Classified Ads. She was soon signed by Wilhelmina and spent the next ten years modeling.
“That exposed me to the whole fashion industry,” she said. “I didn’t really want to continue (modeling) but I loved the fashion industry part. That’s where all of this stems from. I got into making clothes and it just kind of evolved little by little into jewelry.”
She said she started making things for herself and then people started buying it and it turned into NadineByNadia. The brand name comes from her real first name, Nadezhda.
“My friends from high school call me Nadine and everybody I met after calls me Nadia,” she explains.
Kuznetsova, 35, describes her jewelry as distinctive and bold and says she uses genuine leather and a lot of chains, spikes, and studs in her designs.
“I make everything by hand myself from my home studio,” she said. “I make it once and that’s it, there’s only one piece like that.”
She says she tries to make every piece versatile so that people can wear it many different ways.
“So you can make it into a bracelet, or you can wear it as a belt, or you can wrap it around your neck, or use it as a hairpiece, like get creative with it,” she said.
She gets inspiration from many sources: her travels, historic trends and unconventional material.
Her collection of jewelry includes spike earrings, leather geometric earrings, a Cleopatra necklace, a spiderweb spiked necklace, Cleopatra cuff bracelets, a studded cuff bracelet, and a whip and chain necklace. Prices range from $25 to $350.
She says she’s influenced by the hippie fashions of the 70s, and the punk rock styles of the 80s and 90s, and counts French designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel as a huge icon.
“I love her because she broke a lot of boundaries and she really didn’t care what people thought,” she said. “She invented the little black dress, she was the first woman to wear slacks when wearing pants for women was unheard of.”
Kuznetsova says the funny thing is she doesn’t even wear jewelry.
“I’m really not a jewelry person,” she said. “When I get dressed up and I’m going out I do put on my jewelry. But like on a day-to-day basis, I just wear my engagement ring.”
She added, “But I love making it, I love the concept of jewelry.”
Kuznetsova’s jewelry has been featured in Elle Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Fashion Week Online, among others, in addition to being at New York Fashion Week.
“It was at Pier 59,” she said of her NYFW show. “It was great, it was exciting, it got me a lot of exposure.”
She said her up and coming brand is perhaps a bit unconventional, it’s not a day-to-day kind of jewelry, rather something you put on when you’re putting an outfit together.
“I don’t want it to be stigmatized and have people see leather, spikes, and automatically go, ‘Oh, that’s not for me, I can’t wear it’,” she said. “I want people to see my jewelry and see that there is no age limit for how you can wear studs and spikes and leather, and mix it all together. It can be elegant and classy, it doesn’t have to be stigmatized into punk or rock and roll. It just depends on how you wear it and what you wear it with.”
Kuznetsova said her main focus is to build the NadineByNadia brand to be known for a style of its own. She is currently working with Trendhaus, a showroom in downtown Los Angeles geared toward industry professionals and stylists.
“Just anything I can to move forward,” she said. “It’s my full-time job and my passion.”
For more information and to view her collection, visit nadinebynadia.com
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.