When Lisa Sahakian found out that she would no longer be paid overtime at her job, she decided to pursue a side business to earn more money.
She started making charm necklaces for her boyfriend, then her friends, and finally her friends’ friends.
Although she had no background in jewelry making – she barely wore much of it – Sahakian managed to create charm bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, largely inspired by the humor and pop culture symbols. She decided to call him “Ian Charms”, as an ode to her Armenian heritage, as many Armenian surnames end with “ian”.
“It was so spontaneous. The timing was so crazy, because charm jewelry wasn’t a thing, and it happened right when I was doing it, ”Sahakian told WWD. “I was just doing things that I wanted to wear. Luckily our first customers were our friends and we redid theirs three times and then we got the hang of it. We had just discovered it as we went along.
Sahakian, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, slowly started making her charm jewelry last September, with her boyfriend, largely creating custom orders for customers. She posted pieces she had made on Instagram and sold them through the app.
Eventually, her designs landed on the Post Malone stylist’s radar, although the rapper never ended up wearing the piece she made for him. But Ian Charms caught the eye of another prominent name in Lorenzo Posocco, who stylized Dua Lipa. So, Sahakian ended up creating not a personalized necklace for the British singer, but several, including one with a pendant of her dog.
“I worked with her stylist to make all of these customs for her and she wore them every few days and posted a story thanking me,” Sahakian said. “So that’s what really got off the ground. She does it with so many small businesses. I have so much respect for an artist who knows what she is doing and is helping. So she was so important. Even now, when she wears one, I’m just as excited.
After Dua Lipa wore her necklace, more and more celebrities began to don Sahakian’s necklaces and bracelets. Her jewelry has been seen on celebrities like Pete Davidson, Justin and Hailey Bieber, Emma Chamberlain, Madison Beer, Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner, Lorde and most recently Olivia Rodrigo in her music video for “Brutal”.
Sahakian’s jewelry is colorful and fun, unique charms reminiscent of the early 2000s, as well as pendants with well-known figures in pop culture. Some of them include Kris Jenner, Robert Pattinson, Lil Nas X, and even Judge Judy. Her main source of inspiration is based on what she would wear personally and “what’s going on in pop culture that [they] find it really funny.
“Having a sense of irony and humor is super important. So these little pendants that we make, I think these definitely made us stand out,” Sahakian said. found it funny… even the neutral pieces, I feel like I almost had to make up for that neutrality by being a lot crazier and having some really weird beads, like teeth or whatever. “
In February, Sahakian finally quit her job as a development assistant in the entertainment industry to work full time on Ian Charms. Until now, the company’s two full-time employees have been herself and her boyfriend, although they also have a few part-time employees.
In March, she also closed her requests for personalized jewelry as they started to pile up and she had to catch up with three months of orders, which was one of the biggest challenges they faced as a business.
“I can’t create customs for everyone, so we had to close them,” Sahakian said. “But it’s a bit special, because it’s all limited edition, basically. When it’s depleted it usually doesn’t replenish and if you want, get it when it’s available.
Sahakian always tries to navigate the logistics of managing Ian Charms, especially when working with others to make sure they don’t take advantage of a small business.
Ian Charms always offers new pieces every Friday at noon, but they tend to sell out within hours. Next month, Sahakian aims to work on clothes.
“I think the advantage of having no idea what you’re doing is that we don’t really put any limits on it. So we’re still finding a brand voice and everything, ”Sahakian said. “We talked about making housewares or collaborating with artists or brands that we think are really cool and that fit the aesthetic. We’re really open to anything, but I think clothes will be a huge part of it and jewelry will always be a big part of it for sure.
Going forward, Sahakian hopes to continue making fun ‘wacky’ jewelry and stay true to creating designs that are humorous and relevant to pop culture.
“I always want people to feel involved in the joke. I feel like there are a lot of people who wouldn’t have a sense of humor and that’s okay, it’s not for everyone, ”Sahakian said. “We want to keep it super organized and always in a limited edition. We never really want to do it for the masses. I think that will always be our guide.
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