J. Landa

2412 Rice Blvd., Houston

In the heart of Houston’s Rice Village, a charming shopping district with the soul of a small town and the diverse retail selection of a big city, sits J. Landa, a 15-year-old jewelry boutique that recently underwent a dramatic transformation. Long known for its stylish and affordable silver pieces, the store, originally called J. Silver, has redefined itself as a designer jewelry destination, complete with decor inspired by Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford—think “bold colors” and “sexy, textured interiors,” says Landa—and a designer incubation program that’s unlike anything the metropolis has to offer.

Rice Village Redux

When Jay Landa opened his business in 1999, he named it J. Silver to reflect the store’s early focus on, well, silver. He became an early supporter of Chan Luu, whose wildly popular wrap bracelets drew scores of shoppers. But Landa—who grew up with a retailer mother, then went to work for Donna Karan after college—had ambitions to revamp the store’s entire look and feel, giving his brand an impressive boost in the process. “The truth is, I was coming up on renewing my lease and that initiated a new direction,” Landa says. “I asked myself, What is my next step? I was ready to go full-throttle into a more nationally branded company, starting with architecture.”

Carrara and Croc Skin

The two-month renovation, completed in late October 2013, included a slew of luxurious touches: hardwood and Carrara marble floors; lacquered antique Chinese doors; walls featuring a two-tone wood gold-accented chevron pattern; side tables swathed in crocodile skin; and a stunning hand-blown chandelier. One of the most eye-catching elements is a bright turquoise door at the back of the store. It leads to an office but serves as a visual cue: Everything encapsulated within the 1,500-square-foot space reflects Landa’s glamorous retailing vision, as executed by his personal interior designer, Houston-based Dennis Brackeen. “I gave [Brackeen] total creative freedom for the store,” Landa says. “I knew the investment would be big, but I needed to raise the architecture to raise my vision, my designs. It makes the jewelry look even better.”

Talent Scout

Along with the cosmetic overhaul came a shift in ­Landa’s retailing ethos. He debuted a New Designer Lab to nurture up-and-comers and to introduce his clients to cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind work. “Each designer will get a few days at a time to show within the store in a trunk show–type setting,” Landa explains. The emerging artists join established brands such as Chan Luu, Alexis Bittar, Uno de 50, Dian Malouf, and ­Dogeared. Landa says he intends to keep the selection small, so that he can focus his attention on each. The retailer will continue a J. Silver tradition by carrying one-off pieces made expressly for the shop. And he’ll also be keeping his affordable prices ($50–5,000).

Global Style

Landa is a son of Houston, but he plans to make his store into an international destination, with his expanded e-commerce site and, in the near future, a range of jewels by global artisans. “I curate my ­collections from my extensive travel in various countries,” Landa says. “I won’t bring just any ­jewelry designer in. I want ones that have a story, a hook.”

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