After graduating from the Rhode Island School Of Design, Lara Kurtzman worked as a theatrical costume and set designer and began creating custom jewelry and accessories for private clients. Capturing the attention of designers such as Mads Kornerup, Gerard Yosca and Patricia Field, Lara’s pieces were featured in magazines,seen in movie and television productions and on runways in both NY and Miami. Lara established Kelacala Q with studio headquarters in Greenwich Village, as an antidote to formulaic jewelry design and as an answer to the needs of real women and men looking for timeless original adornments and personalized fashion accessories to reflect their own unique characters and individual styles.
Why you began Kelacala Q?
My mom is a jewelry fanatic. She used to take me on regular expeditions to NY’s finest jewelers. When I was old enough to start buying jewelry for myself however, I realized I just couldn’t find anything that represented my personal style. Everything was so stylistically rigid and over-branded and nothing had the edge I was looking for. So I began designing and selling my pieces very early on and I was my own first customer. Lucky for me other people related to my designs. The company itself evolved as a response to the volume of work I was selling. In my case, forming a company was necessary as an organizing principle to help focus my love for creating beautiful, wearable art.
Greatest inspirations or influences?
Inspiration is an amazing word: to breathe in; to literally internalize the force of life. To be inspired by another is about being breathed into by another as a kind of creative buddy breathing or spiritual mouth to mouth resuscitation. In that respect it is a deeply sacred exchange and one of the more profound human dynamics. To list all my inspirations is impossible but a short list of those that relate closely to my work looks something like this:
- my mom, Nature (birds, fish, biomorphic patterns, outer space, etc.),
- Florine Stettheimer, Marc Chagall, Egon Schiele, Frida Kahlo, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Lenora Carrington, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Antonio Gaudi, Friedensreich Hundertwasser,
- New York's Metropolitan and Natural History Museums.
- I'm also very deeply interested in language and semiotics, and cultural identities.
- I suppose I need to include Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson and David Bowie.
- From the world of fashion itself I would say Lanvin under Alber Elbaz and Christian Lacroix are also big inspirations.
Challenges of what you do?
It’s a very multi faceted industry so the challenges come in many different forms. The obvious challenge of being continually creative and innovative in design is a big one, but for me, that’s actually the part I enjoy most. The bigger challenge is managing day-to-day aspects of the business; overseas contracts, manufacturing, the sometimes bizarre behavior of major retailers, managing staff and keeping everything moving forward toward a specific vision… (i.e., focusing on the big picture without tripping on all the little details). You have to run the business. It’s too easy to let the business run you.
I'm really fortunate to be able to say that many of my favorite New York boutiques are also places that sell my jewelry.
- Sucre at 357 Bleecker St. is an amazing shop for finding pieces from the best independent designers and it's one of the best locations anywhere for jewelry. The co-owner and buyer, Candace Mohr, has an incredible eye for quality and cutting edge style.
- Ibiza at 825 Broadway is another favorite. They have unusual pieces and a rich, colorful French Bohemian flavor.
- I love Jodi Arnold's designs and her store at 56 University Place.
- I also think that Opening Ceremony is doing some really fun things.
- From the vintage world I'm a huge fan of Exquisite Costume at 377 Broome and What Comes Around Goes Around at 351 West Broadway.
- Tauk at 54 South Erie Ave in Montauk is a great boutique for beachwear and accessories.
- And of course, there is Bergdorf Goodman, and Patricia Fields is always dangerous for a woman with a credit card.
3 things you cant live without?
With the Mazlowian basics of air, water, food and shelter taken care of my "can't live without" list is pretty simple: drawing materials, camera, and cayenne pepper.
Anything else youd like to share with our audience?
I have great respect for anyone running her or his own business -- especially in industries (like fashion) that are dominated by corporate mega-brands -- and I make it a practice to support the independent businesses that support other independent businesses. When I'm asked if it's worth the struggle to run my own company, I think about the the first time I saw Ally Sheedy wearing Kelacala Q on film, the first time I saw my pieces in Lucky Magazine or the time when I saw a woman walking down 12th Street wearing 3 of my necklaces at the same time and I can easily say that there is a profound emotional payoff for anyone who is willing to put in the work to build their own.