Business Spotlight: For La Jolla jewelry designer Leslie Fastlicht Russo of LFR Designs, her heritage is her muse
• BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:
Her rich, ethnic heritage coupled with childhood memories of her two grandmothers’ bold jewelry statements, provide inspiration for Leslie Fastlicht Russo’s jewelry collections at LFR Designs.
A literature/history major, Russo said she began making jewelry as a hobby. Her grandmothers’ pieces served as her muse, and continue to resonate in her newest designs. She draws on their diverse backgrounds — Polish, Russian, Greek and Israeli.
“Both my grandmothers never wore jewelry like everyone else wore,” Russo said. “My maternal Hungarian grandmother wore a Greek, 2-karat matte-hammered gold ring that she never took off, and I found it reminiscent of the beautiful ancestral jewelry-making in Greece.”
Her other grandmother frequently wore cameos, which Russo incorporates in her contemporary rings and pendants set in rose gold. Both grandmothers also wore a lot of coral and turquoise — two of Russo’s favorite natural stones.
Russo said she started out by making a necklace for a friend and soon began receiving other commissions. “I made 50 necklaces to see if they’d sell, and from there, I began to set small goals for myself,” Russo said.
For the first six years of her business, Russo worked out of her home studio in her free time, while her children were at school. Her artistic breakthrough came after participating in a designer show in Mexico City, where people loved her work. Soon afterward, Mexico City’s Saks Fifth Avenue picked up her jewelry line, and she opened a shop on Prospect Street in La Jolla.
Russo’s spring collection features a line of dramatic cameo earrings surrounded by Swarovski crystals. Her new collection also showcases single- and double-beaded necklaces with one large dangling pendant that falls low on the neck.
“I’m using a lot of organic stones for these necklaces, including moonstone and volcanic rock,” Russo said. “I’m also working with laser-cut laminated sterling silver to design earrings that are lightweight and look like Flemish lace.”
Russo encourages her clients to wear their jewelry pieces daily, instead of storing them away for special occasions. “I tell customers not to be afraid of wearing things out — even if they’re running an errand or going to their children’s schools in jeans and T-shirts.” The pieces were made (and purchased) to be worn and bring joy.
Russo recently developed a home accessory collection featuring beautiful Lucite boxes of thick acrylic topped with fossils and semi-precious stones.
• LFR Designs, 1266 Prospect St., La Jolla
• Phone: (858) 964-4660.
• Website: lfrdesigns.com
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