How She’s Managing: Jewelry Designer Lorraine West

Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’re checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for doing business—and living as well as possible—during the COVID-19 crisis.

Today we hear from veteran fine jewelry designer Lorraine West, who’s based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

JCK: Hi, Lorraine! Who are you living with through the pandemic, if anybody, and what state of lockdown would you say you’re in?   

Lorraine West: My Brooklyn apartment/home studio with my husband, Sol, and our 10-year-old son, Solly. We were in our apartment unless we needed groceries, to do laundry, or if I needed to get supplies from the Diamond District when it opened back up. We’ve been staying healthy—so far so good.

How would you say the pandemic has impacted your creativity—and desire to create and work?

The pandemic boosted my creativity and focus to realize some dreams I manifested over the last nine months. I had a virtual exhibition called Glimpse, launched a fine jewelry capsule collection with [influential New York jewelry retailer] Greenwich St. Jewelers and multiple partnerships with new retail partners, and had my work placed on dream clients in leading magazines. 

How has the pandemic changed or altered your business?

The pandemic has altered the business because there are so many restrictions in person with suppliers and/or shipping delays. Some suppliers and production partners have gone out of business or reduced hours. My son homeschools, so there are times I have to tag-team with my husband to work around his schedule at the office and our son’s homeschooling hours. The shutdowns for the first three months put all my custom work on pause. When things opened back up it was full speed ahead. 

Lorraine West Ase ring
An Asé ring, in 18k gold with diamonds, in the making
Lorraine West Jennifer hoops
Jennifer Hoops in 14k gold with tapered baguette diamonds—the raw casting is on the left, and the final earring is on the right

Have there been any silver linings to this tricky time for you?

The silver lining has been the new audience the brand gained from the support of small businesses and black-owned brands during the pandemic. The tremendous amount of work was unexpected, and came with challenges due to COVID. However, I pushed through and learned to flex a new muscle, dealing with hundreds of clients at once, balancing production with customer service while the world turned upside down.

Has the pandemic changed how you’ll be moving forward in your business?  

The pandemic blessed me with a massive amount of orders [placed at] light speed. Now that I know what that looks like, my business partner T.K. and I have implemented a new plan for 2021 to bring more work-life balance while growing the brand. I personally haven’t had a break in nine months. I’ve never worked this hard. I’m proud of pushing through in a positive way during one of the most challenging times in history. 

What have you been doing to relax and have fun during this time?

I get into a Netflix series I like and watch one to three episodes at a time with my husband. Right now we’re watching The Crown. It’s so inspiring to see all the royal jewels. 

Have any book/podcast/TV/movie recommendations?

I enjoyed watching Lovecraft Country and Fargo. My go-to book to connect with my personal healing is Sacred Woman by Queen Afua. 

Top: Jewelry designer Lorraine West with her husband, Sol, and her 10-year-old son, Solly, in their Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, neighborhood (all photos courtesy of Lorraine West Jewelry)

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JCK Senior Editor

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