I first came across Doryn Wallach over a decade ago when she wrote a blog called Doryn's Dish - it was all about her life in London where she lived at the time. She updated it with posts on travel, fashion and interior design. I loved how approachable but aspirational it was. In fact, it had quite a similar feel to what we aim for at Fox and Park. Fast forward to 2018 when we recently connected on instagram where I noticed she is now a jewelry designer. I was intrigued by her career change - she has worn many different hats in between Doryn's Dish and her jewelry line - so I reached out to ask her a few questions. Read on to discover tips on changing careers (and industries!) in your late 30's, lessons that come with experience, how Doryn stays organized and productive and what inspires her.
What were you doing in your previous life?
I have always been entrepreneurial since I was a little girl. I feel like I've done it all! After getting a degree from FIT in Interior Design, I started my career in in New York City. I worked in different areas of interior design in my 20's from residential, staging and TV. I then had a consulting business on web design and an online retail store for wedding gifts. I also had a radio show when I lived in Greenwich, Connecticut before moving back to the city. Because of my passion for helping others, I then began pursing a Master of Social Work at NYU, but we moved to London for my husband’s job in 2005 (now I fulfill this passion through my volunteer work). Since I didn’t have a work visa, I started a blog called Doryn's Dish, which was super fun! I wrote about everything from being an expat in London to locations and hotels we traveled to during our time there. I gave interior design, fashion and beauty advice and even had guest bloggers. I actually had a large following, which is how I came to know Julie from Fox & Park in a round about way! I then got pregnant with my first child, moved back to the US and spent time focusing on being a mom and working on some more interior design projects before starting my fine jewelry business.
What gave you the idea to start your business?
I had one of those light bulb moments one day after a pretty stressful time in my life. While we were much more fortunate than many other people, our home was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I had spent more than two years renovating and designing every aspect of our house and four weeks after we finished, the storm dumped 5 feet of water in it and we were forced to move out for a year. We lost so many meaningful things including baby books and family photos (my children were 2 and 5 at the time), and the house was nearly destroyed. I embarked on a second renovation and by the time I was done, I felt like I needed a change of direction career wise. Thinking back on what really inspired me, it was something I had done personally all my life – designing jewelry. It’s something I learned from both my grandmother and mom (more on that later!). And then about five years ago, after a chance moment of redesigning an eternity ring from my husband with the neighborhood jewelry store, the owner asked me if I ever thought of designing jewelry. He said many of his clients had inquired about the ring before I picked it up, and that’s when the light bulb went off! Within a month, I was enrolled in classes, connected with a mentor through FIT, and that's how it all began. I feel so fortunate to have found something I’m truly passionate about!
Was there anything holding you back? FEAR. I was in my late 30's, and starting something completely new scared me, and yet at the same time, I was so incredibly excited about something for the first time in a long time, it felt right. I told myself I was going to try and do it until I was told not to.
some pieces from Doryn Wallach Jewelry collection, including the piece that set off her 'light bulb' moment
How did you prepare to pivot? I contacted my alma mater, FIT, and they connected me with a jewelry industry veteran, the wonderful Cindy Edelstein. I worked closely with her for two years to develop my collection, and she taught me so much. I truly believe that it was a gift to have met her so early on in my career (I started with a few sketches) because she prevented me from making many mistakes. She tragically passed away not too long ago, and I miss her and her candid honesty dearly everyday. I also worked with designer and FIT instructor Alison Nagasue for my collection development. Both were hugely instrumental in this process. I enrolled in courses on making jewelry to get some fundamentals and took a few GIA courses on gemstones and diamonds. But really, it is on the job experience and years of being around jewelry that helped me. Having a design background to begin with was also very helpful. I often look through the interior design lens when designing – there are so many parallels between interiors and fine jewelry design – and this is where a lot of my inspiration comes from in my collection. I love exploring the bridge from interiors to jewelry because design can translate to every medium. The similarities are within the way an elegant design can balance symmetry, color, texture, scale and lines. In both areas, my goal has always been to create something practical and functional while still having a unique and beautiful design. I believe these are the designs that can make a statement without being too trendy and hopefully last a long time.
SJP wearing one of Doryn's necklaces
Some challenges you faced when you first started? One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started was the lack of knowledge of the jewelry industry from a business perspective. It's still a learning curve for me a daily, but it's part of what makes my job so exciting. I love figuring out how to navigate the business side even though the creative design is my favorite part. I feel incredibly lucky to have started out with someone who really made me take my time to do it right. Now I have a team of people who work for me, and they teach me new things every day.
What was the hardest part of building your own business/changing careers? Building a fine jewelry brand is a significant financial investment because of the materials I used in my collection like yellow gold, platinum, diamonds and other semi-precious and precious stones. I have also built the business from the ground up, so there are many natural stresses that come along with that. We’re a small team, so we have to be efficient and engaged on every level. Also, gaining trust from clients, retailers and many of the key industry players has been very important to me. When developing a brand, you are really asking people to believe in your creativity, taste and knowledge. I feel I am really starting to gain peoples’ trust from this perspective, and that feels great!
Advice for women who want to follow in your footsteps? Patience. It has taken me MANY years to understand this. In my 20’s when I had started businesses, I wanted instant success. I didn’t have the patience to wait. When it didn’t go my way, I moved on. Maybe it was turning 40, maybe it’s being a mother, maybe it’s just life experience, but I understand now more than ever that overnight success is a rarity, and I am happy to work hard and go with the flow to make sure I am doing things as well as I possibly can.
Would you do anything differently? No, I really wouldn’t. I am so happy with the direction of the brand and truly love almost every second of it. Almost!
How do you set your goals? I am still figuring this out. As a business owner, mother and wife, goal setting becomes more and more of a challenge. Google Keep has become my new love. I make lists, check them off and add long-term goals on there. It could be more organized, but it’s a work in progress!
What are the daily rituals that make you successful? Exercise, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, keeping a ton of notes, emailing myself, non-tech time with my kids, letting go of some control with my team, these are just a few.
What helps you be your most productive? Keeping as organized as I possibly can and making sure that I allow myself a few late nights in the office in complete silence to really focus. When I create new collections, I like to be completely away from real life to draw and create. I always joke with my husband that one day I am going to buy a little shack by the ocean, paint it white with all white furniture (no kids allowed) and use it as my creative getaway. It’s amazing how much I can do when removed.
What inspires you? Oh so much! Traveling, interior design, architecture, furniture, lighting, vintage jewelry, vintage clothing, vintage handbags, cigarette holders, powder boxes, perfume bottles, antique furniture, old movies and just walking the streets of NYC.
What music are you currently listening to? I’m not really a music person. I love music, but I find older music actually calms me. I grew up hating my Dad’s music, and now it’s what I love to listen to. Not sure if it’s comfort or what, but I’m an old lady like that. Peter Paul Mary, James Taylor, Eagles, Elton John, Beatles, Stones, etc. I love a little Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Clearly my taste in music hasn’t evolved much
What does your own home say about you? Comfortable, practical, eclectic, welcoming, silly, warm. You can also see reflections of my brand in my home – there are a lot of art deco influences and special details that I incorporated from that time period, which I love!
How does living and working in NYC influence your design? I am inspired daily but what I see in the sky, the ground, buildings like Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, stores, restaurants, old hotels, and even elevator banks in some of the buildings in the diamond district, which have a heavy art deco influence. I am in the perfect place on earth to be influenced by Art Deco style.
Who or what has influenced your style? Definitely my mother and grandmother! They both also had such a unique flare for style that heavily influenced me from fashion to jewelry and it is really what led me into this business. My great-grandmother and grandmother always designed their own jewelry and so did my Mom. My mom worked part time in a jewelry store when I was a kid, and I would sit with her while she worked. As I got older, she would take me with her to New York City when she designed jewelry of her own. I can remember her teaching me the Four C's when I was 10 years old. Sometimes my mom would give me inexpensive stones or pieces from her jewelry collection, and would let me redesign them for her and she would have them made. It always amazed me how much trust she had in my eye even as a child and young adult. She instilled a lot of confidence in me as a child and really trusted my taste, style and judgment.