Not much has changed about Collette Ishiyama since she was a DIY-minded little girl in the pristine ‘burb of Cranford, New Jersey. “One of my aunts sent me some pictures recently from when I was a little kid. I was probably seven years old, and I was wearing an outfit that I would totally wear now,” Collette shares with a laugh. “I’ve just been the same throughout.”
This isn’t a case of arrested development—far from it. It’s more that Collette has always known what she likes, and, luckily, for us that has included making jewelry. Back then, that meant stringing together seashells and creating composites of her mother’s broken jewelry with the help of her father and his drill. Her life-long hobby turned into a full-time job when, after dropping out of Pratt and taking on a series of internships, she debuted her namesake line in February 2011.
Much like her personal style, Collette’s design aesthetic came together early on: The vibe of her work, driven by stingray leather housed in brass, reveal a childhood spent around Art Deco pieces, thanks to her mom’s job as an antique dealer. To keep that nearly 100-year-old style modern and grounded, she constructs every piece by hand. “It makes your options that much wider when you’re not reliant on anyone,” she says. “There’s a lot more freedom to doing it yourself.” We’re sure the younger Collette would have agreed. —anthonia akitunde