“Even when I was little, I was never great with authority,” recalls Shahla Karimi, by way of explaining how she ended up starting her own jewelry biz. But there were a few times between childhood and settin’ up that LLC when she did have a boss—including one you may have heard of, President Barack Obama. After years overseeing product development for big-name companies like Warner Music Group, in 2011 Shahla served on the President’s re-election campaign as the director of merchandising, a job that is exactly as badass as it sounds (you can thank her for those retro-cool Obama tube socks). In 18 months, she and a small team developed over 400 products and raised a pretty unbelieveable $40 million (how’s that for civic duty?).
That scrappy, hopeful experience kicked her entrepreneurial urge into overdrive, and since she’d been taking jewelry-making classes on the side for years, launching her own line was the obvious next step. In 2015, she debuted a collection of wavy gold rings modeled on NYC subway routes, diamond-decked BFF necklace sets, and soundwave-shaped pendants that were an instant hit with the likes of Gigi Hadid and Lena Dunham. As she remembers it, “I reached right out to big stylists and magazines because I didn’t know better. You’re bold when you’re naive, which turned out to be a good thing for me!” How—dare we say—audacious? —tess falotico
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