“I don’t go to therapy, I cook,” says American stylist-turned-jewellery-pioneer Jennifer Fisher...
For her, life doesn’t get better than whipping up a feast in her Manhattan loft for her two children, Shane and Drew, and husband, Kevin (who is also her business partner).
Log onto her website and, as well as the clean sculptural jewellery, you will find the Jennifer Fisher Kitchen teeming with simple clean recipes, complete with her range of specialist salts. Here is a woman who, when she finds a passion, is not afraid to truly embrace it.
Fisher has built a global business – complete with flagship store on Fifth Avenue – on a straight-talking, real approach. You can see it in her clean, bold, wearable designs and the decisive narrative of her own life.
While working as a stylist aged just 30, Fisher hit quite a bump in the road. Discovering she had a rare type of tumour, she was advised to conceive only via surrogacy.
“After multiple rounds of IVF where our surrogate was pregnant twice and miscarried twice, we came back to New York and we decided to try IVF on our own, against my doctors’ orders,” she explains. “Unsuccessful yet again, my doctors recommended that we adopt or get an egg donor. I needed a break from it all and took the summer off. That’s when I became pregnant with my son Shane, naturally.”
Fortunately she found that her pregnancy had in fact shrunk the tumour.
It is hardly surprising then, that when she wanted a piece of jewellery to mark the magnitude of her son’s birth, she did it very much her way.
A simple, statement dog tag necklace, stamped with her son’s name heralded the birth of her jewellery empire. That was in 2005.
Since then – spurred by the words of her father who told her she can be anything she wants to be – her sleek, sculptural creations have been worn by independent women around the world. Michelle Obama, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Rihanna – the list goes on.
Hoop earrings are to her the denim of a woman’s jewellery wardrobe. She makes more than 20 different styles and says that women should find the perfect fit, just like a pair of jeans.
Hers is an inspiring story – not least because of her journey into motherhood, but also as a result of her can-do approach to a successful business and thriving family life.
Where is your happy place?
I am happiest at home cooking for my kids and for my husband.
What do you love about cooking and why did you decide to launch your range of specialist salts?
My passion outside of jewellery is cooking — it always has been. The salt thing happened totally by accident. I’m gluten-free and dairy-free most of the time because I have thyroid disease. I cook for the kids and for the family and I’m always super-conscious about what we’re eating. I try to eat nothing out of a packet when I can, if I can help it, and what comes naturally with that is seasoning. I started this little mixture of salt on the side of my stove mixed in with organic lemon rind that my dad sent me from California and a mix of herbs that I like. I sprinkled it on my eggs every day, and our salads and on meats and everything that we would make in the house.
And what inspired you to start your brand?
I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. I began my career as a wardrobe stylist working on feature films, television shows, and commercials in both New York and Los Angeles. After college, I worked as a wardrobe stylist for 10 years for national ad campaigns like American Express and Budweiser. It wasn’t glamorous but paid better than fashion jobs – I had teams of girls working for me and could easily juggle two, three or even four jobs at a time. After 10 years of dressing and styling Hollywood, I met my husband, Kevin, and we settled in New York City, where my company is now based. I was living and styling in NYC for an LA based director, when I was diagnosed with a desmoid tumour. I went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, to shrink my tumour, all the while working on ad jobs. This is when my husband Kevin, who you may know through my Instagram stories, proposed to me. He actually popped the question on Halloween night right before we were about to throw a big party. Ten months later, we were married in Santa Barbara.
When we wanted to have children, my oncologist didn’t think it was a good idea for me to carry a baby because my tumour grows from oestrogen – so we went through the process of hiring a surrogate to carry for us in California. After multiple rounds of IVF where our surrogate was pregnant twice and miscarried twice, we came back to New York and we decided to try IVF on our own, against my doctors’ orders. Unsuccessful yet again, my doctors recommended that we adopt or get an egg donor. I needed a break from it all and took the summer off. That’s when I became pregnant with my son Shane, naturally. Against the wishes of my oncologist I carried my baby. After a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby boy later, I learned that my tumor had actually shrunk from my pregnancy.
After Shane was born, I began receiving jewelry gifts to represent him in the form of single letters that were very dainty and weren’t very me. Shane’s birth was a major deal for us, I wanted something to wear that represented him in a way that felt like me and expressed my personal style. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to go up to 47th street in Manhattan and design and produce something myself. I designed a dog tag charm with Shane’s named stamped on the front that I styled with a long, thick link chain. I didn’t take it off. I wore my dog tag on set while styling and started to get multiple requests for the same necklace. A hair stylist friend of mine was working with Uma Thurman at the time and suggested I make something for Uma that represented her kids. She ended up wearing it on the cover of Glamour Magazine and Jennifer Fisher Jewelry was born.
What is your greatest achievement?
Having my children.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from building your brand?
Trust your gut. Separate your fashion (work) friends from your real friends. Have a team that has your back as people come and go – everyone is replaceable. Don’t take it personally because they will, that is a big lesson I have learned.
Do you think yours is a good industry to be a working mother?
No, I think it’s incredibly hard. I think being a working mom is difficult and being an entrepreneur as a working mom is even harder because you are always on, you’re always working. There is never any time off. On the weekends or at night, even if I am with my kids, I have to take a moment to do something for work. When I am leaving work, my day starts with my family, so it’s hard. The one amazing thing about having my own company is that I do get to set my own hours. So there is flexibility there which other people don’t have when working for others. So that is the one thing I have to say.
What are your efficiency tips?
Do whatever you can the night before. I make sure that my kids backpacks are packed, their snacks are packed in their bags, whatever partial part of their lunch that can be made is made if I need to do that, their sports gear is out, washed, and repacked. I get everything done the night before, so my nights are really busy. I am constantly getting everything reorganised and ready for the next day.
And any mum-hacks you have learned?
Mum Hack #1: Prepping meals in advance
I prep partial meals whenever I can in advance for the family so there is less to do when I get home from work. My slow cooker is my friend. If I can start something in the morning that is going to be delicious by the time we get home, that’s great and it’s a win-win. This includes cooking rice, pre-chopping all my vegetables, I do all of that stuff in advance to make my nights a bit easier.
Mum Hack #2: Plan out what I am going to wear
I also make sure that I know what I am going to wear the next day. I check my calendar every night to see what is planned and if I need to be dressed up for an event. If I have to have a look ready and an extra change of clothes, extra pair of shoes, an extra bag, I pull and pack all of that the night before so that by the time I go to drop my daughter at school I have all of those things with me for the day and they go to the office with me.
How do you get (so much) stuff done?
I just do it and I don’t complain about it.
What has your journey to motherhood taught you?
Well, now that my kids are older, you have to lead by example. My kids are watching everything that my husband and I do. We have definitely calmed down a bit recently now that our kids are teens and we are home a lot more and we are readily available for the kids. Also, we don’t drink as much or go out as much. There are just things that we don’t do. We want to be setting the right example for our children.
How do you look after yourself?
I watch what I eat. More importantly now, I am drinking less alcohol in addition to watching what I eat. I am also trying to exercise more because that is some of the only time I have to myself. I am trying to take more time to focus on myself and my health.
What has surprised you about becoming a mum?
I have been a mom for a really freaking long time – nothing surprises me. But really, what has surprised me? I am much more sensitive now that I am a mother. I didn’t have that sensitivity chip before. Now I am much more empathetic to people and other people’s children.
What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
Nothing is free.
Who are the mums that really inspire you and why?
My grandmother and my mother. I am inspired by people in my family that I look up to. I look up to my mother-in-law too. She is awesome.
What do you not get enough of and how will you change that in 2020?
I don’t get enough time to myself. I am going to start doing yoga again. I am going to start doing something that’s a class where I can leave my house – even if I walk down the street for five minutes that’s time to myself so if I can get that, I will take it.
How often do you travel and what do you pack?
Work has been very busy so we have been travelling almost every two weeks for the past few months. In my carry on I always have hand sanitising wipes, breath spray, extra jewellery and my Jennifer Fisher charm necklace, which is my talisman for my family. I do not fly anywhere without it. It is my good luck charm; I always have that with me. I’ve got my air pods, extra work I can get done, my sketchpad, pencils and a healthy snack. Like most, I struggle to find healthy options at the airport, so I always have my own snacks. I also always have beauty basics. Like my little bag that has my all my essentials of what I need: powder, balm dotcom and perfume. I always cover my neck, so I always make sure to pack a Jennifer Fisher bandana.
And what would surprise people to learn about being Jennifer Fisher?
Nothing, I am totally normal just like you.