Lana Bramlette says she has always been a rebel.
When the designer and founder of Lana Jewelry was a young girl, she always believed that women should do for themselves. Bramlette feels that jewelry as an investment should be a part of that as well.
When she was older, she literally took matters into her own hands.
Bramlette had been searching long and hard for the perfect gold hoop earrings. When the 27-year-old apparel designer by trade couldn’t find what she wanted in stores, she designed one for herself. Along with the earrings, Bramlette would wear a gold and diamond nameplate necklace she designed displaying her then boyfriend, now husband’s, name.
“I started wearing it and everywhere we went people stopped me and said why are you wearing a 'Rob' necklace? And oh my god, I love your earrings too,” she says. “When I told them the story behind it, everyone wanted a nameplate necklace. At the time, you couldn’t go anywhere to get a fine diamond and gold nameplate necklace and you couldn’t go anywhere to get a perfect hoop earring.”
Bramlette seized the business opportunity and founded Lana Jewelry. She was on a mission to get her creations into the best stores. The risk-taker flew to California and walked into retailer Fred Segel’s store without an appointment.
“I do not recommend doing things exactly the way that I did,” she says. “I guess I would say I’m a rule breaker. A disruptor in essence. I do my own thing and see where the chips fall. It just happened that the buyer was in the store and I passed by the jewelry area and started talking to her. She said come back tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the line. After that meeting, they bought the line."
When actress Cameron Diaz visited Fred Segel's store in 2002, Bramlette says Diaz bought the majority of the Lana Jewelry pieces. Less than a year later, Diaz dressed and styled herself for the Charlie’s Angels movie premiere. When Diaz was exiting the car to go on the red carpet, the unthinkable happened. Her shoe broke.
“She went on the red carpet barefoot,” says Bramlette. “She was wearing a little white strapless mini-dress, a ponytail, and my earrings. She asked all of the paparazzi to not shoot her up and down because she was barefoot on the red carpet. That was the moment.”
That moment led to many other moments. Diaz, one of the biggest stars at the time, was photographed for weeks wearing Lana Jewelry earrings and was featured on the cover of numerous magazines.
“It all really happened within a six-month period,” she says. “Within a year we were already in Neiman (Marcus) and had a lot of celebrities immediately buying the line. It became a phenomenon in essence.”
The company’s growth exploded. After Neiman Marcus came Nordstrom, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman. Within a year, Lana Jewelry reached six figures. In just the past two years, the business has doubled to the double-digit millions.
While Bramlette describes Lana Jewelry as a "monster" to control, she says the business is extremely rewarding. Bramlette says she's proud of the purchasing power she's given to women. Prices start at $210 for 14k gold pieces.
“We were really the first fine jewelry line that broke that barrier between can I or can’t I,” she says. "Men were buying women jewelry, it was considered a gift. It was considered something you get if you did something. Women weren’t walking into stores and buying jewelry for themselves. The idea was to make it affordable and attainable and inclusive. We were way ahead of our time for that. That is what people are talking about today.”
Bramlette continues to march to the beat of her own drum. Since the company was founded, Bramlette along with her husband and father have funded the company with their own money – no outside investors.
“That’s unheard of to have a company that is almost 20 years old that is working very hard to control and protect itself,” she says. “I definitely have an understanding that we can’t do this forever and it may be time. Finding an investor and finding people to come into your company, it’s like dating and finding a husband. You have to find the perfect partner.”
With the search for the perfect gold hoops more than 15 years behind her, Bramlette is keenly focused on growing Lana Jewelry.
The Upside Down Hoops that started it all remain a top seller. Lana Jewelry's Legacy precious collection is designed for the red carpet. Prices start at $10,000. The company's Denim Gold collection is crafted with blue gold, blue sapphires and black diamonds. And for the financially empowered woman's mini-me? There's Lana Girl by Lana Jewelry, the company's girls, tweens and teens line. Bramlette says she’s also working on a men’s line.
“We want to be the jewelry for your whole world and to try to innovate as much as possible,” she says. “We’d like to dress your significant other, your children and you. We’d like to be your go-to for gifts. What you wear to your wedding. What you give to your daughter and on and on. “
Linda Bell joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in 2014 as an assignment editor. She is an award-winning writer of business and financial content. You can follow her on Twitter @lindanbell