Solana Beach jewelry designer learns the ropes of big retail while making name for herself in entertainment industry
By Claire Harlin
At only 27 years old, Solana Beach resident Jackie Nicole Brown has already achieved and overcome more than many do in their lifetime. In 2009, she launched a large-scale, nationwide jewelry company in which she managed big celebrity contracts and, in 2011, she starred as the “budget fashionista” on the Style Network TV show “Look For Less.”
Most challenging though, was when she went too big too quick with her former jewelry line that rose quickly when she acquired a celebrity clientele right off the bat, and saw it end with a stressful legal dispute with her former partner.
“This is like something Donald Trump would go through,” said Brown, who grew up in Vista, attended Cathedral Catholic High School and later earned a theater degree at the University of San Diego. “My attorneys keep comparing my case to Donald Trump, and it’s so weird to hear that.”
She added, jokingly, “It’s like I have 50-year-old problems right now.”
But Brown not only picked up the pieces, she came out even stronger when she kept on with her talent — designing jewelry — and launched a solo line called none other than Jacqueline Nicole Brown Jewelry (or “JNB”). She is the featured jeweler in all “7 For all Mankind” stores in the U.S., one of the largest jeans retailers in the nation. Her line is also in more than 220 other various stores, and she gets inquiries from new stores at least once a week, she said. Her online sales, which she said constitutes well over 1,000 units a month, is only icing on the cake.
“Right now I am regrouping, reestablishing and catering to clients from the previous business,” Brown said, adding that she has learned many lessons along the way, such as giving a lot of attention to her bigger clients, such as the multi billion-dollar “7 For All Mankind.” For example, the company reached out to Brown in May for leads on a handbag designer, and Brown took the initiative to work with a fellow designer friend on her own handbag prototypes.
“They are very particular. When they like something, they like it, and when they like a designer, they stick with that designer,” said Brown. “If they want handbags, I’m going to make handbags … It’s all about working on building those big relationships; that was a mistake, something I didn’t do in the beginning.”
Since launching JNB, Brown said she has less stores overall, but she has more reorders and has established better relationships with her clients — which she views as a success.
An actress at heart, Brown picked up jewelry-making in between acting gigs in L.A. several years ago.
“When I didn’t have acting work, I needed supplemental income that wasn’t serving tables because I needed to leave an open schedule for auditions,” Brown said. “My girlfriends were making jewelry and having jewelry parties. They were selling pieces for hundreds of dollars and I couldn’t afford that so I learned to make pieces I liked myself.”
Making jewelry to wear turned into making jewelry to sell, and Brown also started having jewelry parties. Having several close friends with roles on major TV sets in L.A. worked in Brown’s favor when they let her sell her jewelry on set. Next thing she knew, she was making jewelry for youth stars such as singer-actress Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, the star of “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Gomez was such a fan of the jewelry that she mentioned Brown’s work in an InTouch Magazine article.
“There was a time when Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez were fighting and friends kept telling me they were seeing my jewelry on covers of magazines,” Brown said.
At one point in her former business, Brown took the path of launching subsidiary lines with celebrity spokespeople, but she realized that wasn’t the right direction for her company, because the designs were selling anyway.
Brown is more than just a name behind a popular jewelry line, but she herself is a brand in the making. She hasn’t forgotten about her acting career, and she has been taken on by some of the industry’s top managers over the past year. The Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents stars from Oprah Winfrey to Miley Cyrus to Steve Wonder, approached her last year and told her the hurdles she has overcome in her jewelry business make her just that much more valuable.
“At first I met with five agents, and I was like, ‘Woah, this is too big for me,’” said Brown, who ended up signing a contract with CAA. Her attorney also introduced her to Arthur Spivak, known for managing actor Paul Reiser and singer Michelle Branch. Brown took on Spivak as her manager.
“He said, ‘I’ve been looking for a girl like you for five years, someone I can turn into a brand, like the Olsens,’” said Brown, adding that Spivak is working on the developmental side of her image, with the ultimate goal of licensing her name. CAA is focusing on developing her television presence.
Brown has done a lot of short films and used to play roles at the San Diego Old Globe Theater, but hasn’t been able put her attention into acting since launching her jewelry companies.
She hasn’t forgotten about her passion, however, and she is also getting back behind the camera through her new YouTube channel, in which she will feature tutorials and tips with her co-star, local fitness guru Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential blog.
Whereas most actresses make it big and then launch retail brands, Brown’s brand is helping grow her presence in the entertainment industry.
“I feel like I am taking the back door approach,” Brown said.
Locally, you can find Brown’s jewelry at Cedros Soles and Pink Lagoon in Solana Beach, as well as Ooh La La in Del Mar. For more information, or to order jewelry online, visit www.jnbjewels.com.
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