Nestled in the Malibu Country Mart, the retail mecca off Pacific Coast Highway is a cream, 500-square foot retail space with panoramic windows. Malibu natives and the flux of summer tourists alike can now peak inside and find a haven of delicate gold jewelry that is made, “with love from Laguna Beach”: gorjana jewelry.
“In many ways, we consider Malibu and Laguna, soul sister communities,” Gorjana Reidel, the brand’s namesake founder and designer told me. “Malibu is similar to Laguna in that it’s got the energy of a city but it’s a small town at heart with the picturesque Pacific Ocean for a back drop. We’ve always admired the space, being that it’s located in center of everything and shaped like a beautiful beach bungalow, it’s as if it was designed specifically for us.”
This Friday, the store opened to the star-studded seaside community with the golden Malibu sunset reflecting off its windows and a customizable Margherita bar. Bringing gorjana to Malibu seemed like the natural fit, since the LA county beach community echoes the lifestyle of her home and the original brick-and-mortar location in Laguna Beach.
“Malibu is such an important part of our personal journey; We lived there when we were first dating,” Reidel notes about the significance of the opening for her and husband/gorjana’s CEO, Jason Griffin Reidel. “Beyond the personal connections and strictly from a retail perspective, Malibu makes a ton of sense. It’s always had a terrific curation of great brands and has really had a resurgence recently.”
At the opening, I walked up to Reidel, who was arrayed in a multicolored floral jumpsuit, complementing her long tresses of a sunflower hue. She equally had a sunny disposition when I introduced myself.
I was wearing one of gorjana’s pieces as I approached her, a gold chain around the neck with an engraved medallion dangling on the edge and as fate would have it, the same piece from her collection is the one she chose to complete her look that day.
When I asked Reidel how she feels when wearing her own pieces after 15 years of running and designing for gorjana, she tells me, “I feel good. [The pieces] represent our company and all of our amazing employees that we’ve built over the years. I’m super proud and grateful for what I have.”
The Serbian-born model-turned jewelry designer/entrepreneur is so down-to-earth, despite designing pieces favored by the likes of Michelle Obama, Nikki Reed and Christina Applegate and now having 11 store locations across both coasts of the U.S. Her humility is clear, since Reidel’s mantra toward accessorizing is inclusive.
“We are intentional in our designs. We strive to create jewelry that empowers the wearer to make it her own. That’s why you’ll see such a focus on personalization, versatility and adjustability.”
After all, Reidel was once a 20-something girl working at Neiman Marcus’ jewelry department, then for a fine jeweler with a penchant for jewelry, but not the price tag.
“I was 22, and I fell in love with jewelry, but I couldn’t afford any of it! I wanted to make something that is just as beautiful,” she told me. “I want jewelry to be a more fun experience where you can mix and match things depending on what kind of mood you are in.”
The lightweight aura of gorjana’s necklaces and bracelets from celestial motifs to affordable gemstones encourage layering, and an array of designs including personalized pieces from in-store engraving lends itself to a cross-generational clientele.
“You can make it your own look. Our demographic and our appeal is so vast. I have a niece who is 14 that wears it and so does my grandmother,” Redeil told me.
That versatility even extends to people as young as Reidel’s eight-year-old daughter, although she admits that she ironically doesn’t have a thing for jewelry.
“We have a mini line that we did and she’s like, ‘do I have to wear that again?’ I’m like, ‘cool! Maybe when day you’ll appreciate what I’m doing,’ Reidel says with a laugh, “But right now, I’m going to let it go! It’s so funny. Of course, my own daughter could care less!”
For those that do love jewelry, gorjana’s fall line, the ‘Ana Collection,’ features bohemian coin motifs, head nods to Reidel’s Serbian roots.
“Last summer I returned home to Serbia for the first time in 23 years. It was an emotional and extraordinary experience,” told me. “During my visit I had the chance to dive deeper into the intricacies of Serbian culture and learn about my heritage in ways I never have before.”
gorjana jewelry items range in price from $30 to $200 and can also be found online.
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