Co-founder Kelly Shami talks about her eponymous jewelry brand

If you’re a jewelry lover, you might have noticed one particular New York brand that has taken over. Shamiby brother and sister twin duo Kelly and Marc Shamiis behind Alexa Demie’s name tag necklace and hoops, SZA’s red and gold earrings S pendant necklace, and the custom of Ella Mai Boo’d Up hoop earrings (among many others).

The Shami siblings have jewelry in their blood – their father owned a jewelry store on 47th Street. After several years of planning and plotting (while they were both working numerous jobs), their eponymous brand finally came to fruition in 2017, and soon after, Shami was spotted everywhere. After several days spent traveling the Shami Instagram and websitewe caught up with Kelly (who handles all design elements for the brand) to learn more about the brand, discuss a few collaborations, and find out what’s in store for them next.

Shami is Kelly’s second jewelry brand:

“When I was about 18, I left my parents home and immersed myself in work while attending the School of Visual Arts. I’ve worked many creative corporate jobs, but I’ve always felt connected to jewelry. I had worked frequently with my father growing up, who had been a retail and wholesale jeweler for over 35 years. I worked summers, vacations, and weekends at my dad’s store on 47th Street, where I learned a lot about jewelry terminology and making. During my time going to my internship, work and classes, I developed a small jewelry line and saw a good response. I was super proud and loved the feeling. Outside of art, jewelry has always felt natural and sentimental to me. It’s an art form even more than a fashion form for me personally. After that, I took a job in a music company, which took me a lot of time. I never stopped designing jewelry and conceptualizing collections, so it just felt right to switch brands and create a new line with what I’ve learned over the years.

They wanted to honor their father and all that he had taught them:

“Shami is a line that I created with my twin brother, Mark. We [were] worked on it for a long time before it launched. It was always an unspoken understanding that we wanted to work together on a jewelry brand to honor our father. Being first generation kids in America made us really appreciate our dad’s business and his dedication. I grew up always wearing a nameplate, rings, earrings and more – that was usually what I was good at on holidays and special occasions. For my brother, he learned the business side over the years from our father. The time had come in 2017, so we went ahead and launched Shami.

“We both own the brand, but we play different roles. I take care of the design, creative direction and everything related to branding. Mark is super smart about business and money, so this is his world. We collaborate a lot, [and] Mark always comes to me with great creative and product ideas. It works really well.

What it’s like to work as a family:

“When it comes to being in the office or in a meeting, we use business partner mode. I feel like our sibling relationship goes easily from best friends to professional. I’m also best friends with his girlfriend, Danielle Guizio. The three of us are very close and appreciate each other’s advice and opinions.

The most surreal moment since the launch of the brand:

“Working on the Nike Collab was certainly the most surreal. It all happened so fast and we worked very hard to deliver the custom parts and packaging. The collection sold out instantly at [the] ON AIR: Air Max Day event in Brooklyn last March. I still wear these pieces almost every day.

On custom parts:

“We frequently make custom parts for customers. We make many special pieces for musical artists, film [and] television or for people [we meet] by stylists. These processes are always fun because they are collaborative. I start by sketching parts with descriptions of the material to be used. I ask the customer to give me his opinion, and we go from there. I love seeing custom pieces come to life and live in people’s photographs and jewelry collections.

“We make most of our collection here in New York. Some other pieces, depending on weight and design, are made in Taxco, Mexico, which is known for its production of sterling silver.

His dream collaboration:

“I would love to collaborate with the New York Yankees. I see a lot of illegal jewelry with the Yankee logo, which is kind of a cult favorite among jewelry stores in New York. I would love to have a small collection to sell around the stadium Maybe one day I’d like to design a World Series ring.

Who she would like to see in her jewelry one day:

“I would love to do jewelry for Serena Williams. She is a big inspiration to me. I love when athletes aren’t afraid to wear jewelry during competition.

And after?

“I’m always working on new ways to create new custom styles. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t wear some sort of nameplate. It’s a must-have for me, and I think people are drawn to something [that is] personally theirs. We are also working on a small line of cut and sew graphic shirts made in the USA. We want to tell the story of New York’s Diamond District through our products.

Photos: Courtesy of Shami

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