AB: Tell us a bit about yourself? Where were you born/ grew up?
CB: I was born in Florence, Italy, and grew up there. My mother had moved there from NY, so we spent a lot of time between Italy and NYC which was great. It gave me a wider perspective on the world than the average Florentine, I think.
AB: What was your childhood like? Were you always creative?
CB: My childhood was idyllic. Our house is in the hills above Florence so you immediately experience both country and city simultaneously, which is great. We had a pretty strict regime at home, but that was coupled with the fact that we were allowed to pursue and develop whatever interests took our fancy. There were no preconceived expectations or boundaries, but we were expected to take things seriously if we wanted to do pursue anything. For me, that was always jewelry, design, and art. Both my parents really encouraged me, spending time in our family workshops, and at trade fairs from the age of about six or seven. Playing at first, but eventually started to really absorb the valuable lessons I was being taught which still resonate today.
AB: Childhood heroes?
AB: What is your earliest jewelry related memory?
CB: I was mesmerized by the way gold melts from solid into liquid and back again, but transforms into something else. It still seems magical to me.
AB: When did you realize you wanted to become a professional jewelry designer? How did it start?
CB: Six or seven! It took a while after that, but the path was always clear and there. After leaving FIT in NY, I started designing things for myself and showed them to a couple of showrooms. I got very lucky (no pun intended), and my first bracelet design, named the "Lucky Bracelet", appeared on Sex & The City with Sarah Jessica Parker wearing one. My creations started to gain momentum within the industry.
AB: Walk us through a typical day…
CB: I start my day off by dropping my boys at school, and then arrive at my store to run through the previous day’s activity and emails from Asia and USA overnight. I will probably have a meeting or two with press or a retail partner during the morning. Lunch is usually at my desk, and then try to fit in at least one ‘formal’ team meeting to internally discuss our business plans, designs we're trying out, etc. I always find these one-on-one structured chats very creative.
In group meetings, I seem to find that I tend to do most of the talking, and that is not necessarily something I prefer. Ideas always come from chance associations – it is good for me to be forced to listen patiently!
I am usually out of the store by 3.30pm to pick up my boys from school, and take them home and get their homework started. Evenings are mostly relaxed family time – I try to do as little evening networking as possible these days. After the boys are asleep, I will catch up on emails and plan for the next day, and hopefully catch an episode or two of the latest box set.
AB: Biggest challenges you face at work?
CB: Getting everything done! We are very ambitious, but I constantly have to tell myself that I cannot do everything, and make careful decisions about my own limits. Boundaries help people prioritize I feel. That is where trusted friends come in. I am always amazed how a friend, who may know nothing about the industry, is able to zero in on the right path just by listening. It's quite incredible.
AB: How is life juggling motherhood, being a wife, and an industry professional?
CB: Chaotic and intensely rewarding.