It’s harder than ever to launch a standout jewelry label, with most designers acquiring “inspiration” from one another like it’s no ones business. The gap one has to squeeze through to become a successful (and unique) brand in the IG-era is getting smaller and smaller, but Isai seems to have done just that.
Inspired by the traditionality and craftsmanship of Mexican jewelry, he tapped small artisans in Mexico City and NYC to help create his timeless pieces for his unisex brand Issai. Add customizability and high-grade sustainable materials to the equation, and you have a truly special mixture of fine jewelry, social responsibility, and wearability all in one brand. I was lucky enough to interview Isai and touch on all these aspects, who also took us into one of his workspaces with pictures of the process. Scroll down to read.
Pictures via Issai and @_issai.
Is all Issai jewelry unisex?
Hey Kate, thank you for having me, so excited to be participating in this! I think your project and how you get all of us involved its amazing. So yes, I am Isai and I founded Issai a sustainable fine jewelry label. Initially, it was made for men, cause I felt there was a gap in the market for cool men’s jewelry, especially rings, cool wedding bands that had a sustainable background and powerful roots. I saw many brands for women were doing it. For men, I saw a few brands but none that were inspiring to me.
The crazy thing was that women loved our men tailored pieces, sort of when boyfriend jeans got popular. They began ordering and we got great feedback. So what we did is that we just adapted a few things so that small size pieces would still be perfect for women to wear and feel they had a powerful statement piece that was so different from everything out there. Now all of our pieces are unisex, we just make the head of the ring smaller for smaller sizes and its perfect. Everybody loves it.
How involved are you in the design and manufacturing process?
Design and manufacturing are my favorite part. To be honest, a lot of the design takes places at our workshop when we are playing around and coming up with things, we just make them and see if we like them. I work with a lot of customers directly to design personalized pieces so this really stretches my design boundaries. It is incredible to listen to what they want and then créate a piece together, this opens your mind to what you can come up with and make new things. Many times after one of these co-design sessions I go off on a tangent and make a new piece.
I am very involved in the manufacturing process, I like to be at the workshop as much as I can, and in most pieces, my hands are involved in some stage of the production. Time just stops when you are working at this place it’s magical.
How important is it to your brand to stay socially responsible? i.e. supporting local artisans, giving back, less waste, etc.
This is the DNA of what we do. Everything is born from social responsibility and our relationships. If we realice we don’t enjoy working with a supplier because of how he treats our team, his staff or don’t agree with their policies towards the environment we rather cut ties. Our diamonds are certified so there is no violence involved. Our stones come from trusted suppliers, our metals too.
Our mission is that the people that are involved in our operation have a better life because of our organization and that they feel purposeful, valuable and important. It is the best thing in the world to feel your coworkers got your back at work, even I feel this and am very thankful.
You can learn more about Issai and purchase here.
Follow Issai on IG @_issai.
Words by Kate Sullivan