How She’s Managing: Kinn Studio Founder Jennie Yoon

Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’ll be checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for a better and more productive quarantine (and, for most, reopening).

Today we hear from Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Jennie Yoon, founder of Kinn Studio, a millennial-focused fine jewelry brand that’s primarily direct-to-consumer, but maintains a few key wholesale partners—the line is in Steven Alan, Motherly Shop, and Neighborhood Goods.

JCK: Hello, Jennie! Where are you based and how has quarantine been for you? 

I’m based in Los Angeles, and we recently moved to Hermosa Beach, Calif. I’m quarantined with my partner in crime, Greg, my two daughters (ages 11 and 1), and my 4-year-old St. Bernard, Olof.

Quarantine has been a mix of emotions. I’ve been very grateful that I get the opportunity to spend time with family, especially being able to witness every milestone in my kids’ lives. But there have also been unpredictable events—at times, challenging—that have forced all of us to reflect, to slow down, and to figure out as we go.

Jennie Yoon mood board
A mood board that inspired Yoon’s latest collection
Jennie Yoon and son
Yoon with her daughter Kaia out on a beach walk in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Describe your work life in quarantine: What is your environment like, where in your home do you work, what are your hours like?

As a growing business, we’ve been able to adapt quickly and to have our team work from home. Personally, I’ve been working before everyone gets up for the day, while the baby is napping, then after family dinner. If you got an email from me at midnight or on a Saturday at 5 a.m., now you know why, ha! It’s been quite the juggle in terms of my hours, but in an odd way, it’s all worked out.

I’ll be honest. There was a period of time where I felt the mother’s guilt really bad. I’m usually the “give it 110%” type of a person, but during the pandemic, I’ve felt that I wasn’t doing enough to grow the business, because I’m always being pulled to be present with the kids. On the flip side, when I tried to work, I felt I wasn’t doing enough with the kids. Ultimately, my husband and I created a schedule, along with a designated space where we can be away from the family. And though our schedule always falls apart, we’ve somehow made it work.

How has the pandemic changed your business plans for 2020 and beyond?

As a digitally native vertical brand, we’ve always connected with our customers online. So the business plan didn’t shift per se, but we found ourselves needing to modify how we ran the business, from connecting with the team digitally, managing inventory while the manufacturers were closed in downtown L.A., to putting together a photo shoot.

Has having so much time away from “normal life” been good for your creativity or detrimental, and how so?

The streets are quieter, there’s less pollution, people are looking to support local businesses, families are spending more time together. The fast-paced rhythm of life has slowed down, and in hindsight, I’m thankful.

With that, I also got a chance to work on several #repurpose projects. Kinn Repurpose is a service we offer where customers come to us with a family heirloom that they want to repurpose the metals and stones into a new design, which usually pushes me to step out of my comfort zone and stretch my creative brain to help re-create a true one-of-a-kind. These pieces already hold so much meaning for each customer, so we always want to be sure they’re thrilled with the end result.

Kinn Studio Lyra Baguette Pendant
Kinn Studio Lyra Baguette pendant, $480 (without chain)
Kinn Studio Solis ring
Kinn Studio Solis ring with tourmaline, $1,380
A protest in Los Angeles
A protest supporting Black Lives Matter in downtown Los Angeles that Yoon participated in

How have your heart and mind been reacting to the recent BLM protests spurred by the death of George Floyd? 

I’ve felt all sorts of emotions—sadness, shock, infuriation, frustration. But mostly hopeful. Hopeful that people are showing up. Hopeful for real change. To me, this isn’t about a single period of attending protests, donating, and sharing Black content. It’s about taking a stance against color-based discrimination, being aware of our biases, and using that knowledge in the actions we take forward.

We all are somebody’s ancestors. We all have the responsibility to cut racism out, and one of the first places to start is in our family culture.

Please tell me about your new collection! What inspired it? 

People that I’m surrounded by. I’m inspired by people and their stories—which is ultimately what makes them who they are. While I was going through a lot of my old photos, I came across my parents’ and grandparents’ pieces that they used to wear.

They told me lots of stories about when they got the piece, what it meant to them back then. One of the pieces in this collection is inspired by a ring that my mom used to wear when we’d first moved to the U.S. My mom told me that her best friend got it for her before she moved, and the colored stone she had on meant “strength.” This ultimately led me to source more colored stones, and a lot of the new collection has them.

Jennie Yoon BTS
Behind the scenes of a recent Kinn Studio photo shoot “with my talented friend and creative director Kyle Allen and model Jada Selexman”

How have you been relaxing or mentally escaping during quarantine?

Now that I’m by the beach, I’m doing more walks by the beach. Watching the waves crash is very therapeutic.

Do you have any good book/TV/movie/podcast recommendations?

The last book I read was So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and I am currently reading Fear Is a Four-Letter Word by Tracy Tutor for my book club with my girlfriends.

I’m obsessed with Million Dollar Listing LA and Selling Sunset. A girl’s gotta escape sometimes, you know? I also just finished Painkiller: America’s Fentanyl Crisis. Mind blown.

Top photo: Jennie and Kaia in her Korean traditional hanbok outfit on her first birthday (all photos courtesy of Kinn Studio)

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JCK Magazine Editor