The Gemma Redux creation story is not that of your typical jewelry line. Rachel Dooley did not spend her childhood playing dress up. She didn’t go to school for art or design. Instead, she hammered stained-glass mosaics in her garage, tie-dyed her bedspread, and graduated college with a degree in mechanical engineering. Then she moved to Manhattan, went to law school, passed the bar, and became a big-shot, no-bullshit city attorney. And on lunch breaks behind closed doors, she got a jewelry business off the ground.
“It was totally preposterous,” she says. “I was part of this huge firm, but I was hiding behind my desk responding to customer emails and packing orders.” As you’d expect, it became a lot to juggle. So she quit her job. “Looking back, my parents were like, ‘Oh my god, what are you doing?’” she laughs. “But once everyone saw the brand and identity I was creating, it became an exciting thing to get behind.”
Her line Gemma Redux, which means reconstructed gems in Latin, has grown and evolved since she launched it in 2007—her pieces have shown up on Gossip Girl and on A-list celebs. And 2010 was a banner year: The CFDA chose her to be one of a dozen designers in the inaugural class of their Fashion Incubator program. She has since shown at fashion week and collaborated with Bibhu Mohapatra—basically, she’s not quitting (or slowing down) anytime soon. —lydia woolever
BEHIND THE SCENES
Rachel Dooley infuses her jewelry with some left-brain training.
As she moves out, the Gemma Redux designer shares her experience.