Q & A: Catching up with Cassy

EditorsSep 30, 2009

Q & A: Catching up with Cassy

A little while back, I received an e-mail about Cassy’s Sassy Jewelry, a company run by a young woman who had established her business at the age of 12. Since then, Arizona-based designer and owner Cassy Saba has been featured...

A little while back, I received an e-mail about Cassy’s Sassy Jewelry, a company run by a young woman who had established her business at the age of 12. Since then, Arizona-based designer and owner Cassy Saba has been featured in a segment of The Montel Williams Show about “Teen Millionaires in the Making” and has been highlighted in magazines such as Elle and Teen.

Now on the verge of her 19th birthday, Saba juggles all the duties of running a jewelry business: designing, fulfilling orders and marketing, while also hitting the books as a college sophomore.

Saba’s designs and uber-professional Web site were what first caught my eye and, after checking in with Cassy, I can’t get over her entrepreneurial spirit.

Above: Cassy Saba with designer Stephen Webster. Below: A model wears designs from Cassy's Sassy Jewelry in the designer's lookbook, available online.

National Jeweler (NJ): How did you get started?
Cassy Saba (CS): It started as a hobby when I got my first bead kit, which was of plastic beads. I had my mom wear [one of my designs] to work one day and her clients really liked it. I started getting into glass beads and started approaching stores, doing trunk shows and developing a clientele.

NJ: What was it that made you decide to approach stores with your jewelry?
CS: I just kind of realized, go for it. It’s a little intimidating at first, but the worst they could say is no. They didn’t really consider my age, they were more impressed by my work. They would first put pieces on consignment and then just buy them. Lots of times, one customer would buy one piece and then come back for more.

NJ: Where are your designs sold?
CS: They’re mostly on the West Coast, mostly in local boutiques. I have one boutique in New York, and I have a rep trying to get me into [L.A.’s] Fred Segal.

NJ: How hard has it been to balance school and work?
CS: It’s been very difficult. I’m a sophomore at ASU [Arizona State University] and my major is marketing. I wish I could work all the time. I got a BlackBerry, so it’s a little easier now. I can do e-mails throughout the day and do orders.

NJ: Did you take any classes or have you taught yourself?
CS: I’ve pretty much taught myself,
and now I’m doing semiprecious and metal. I try to keep up with the trends but still have my own work.

NJ: What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
CS: I really love mixing smooth stones with rough, bulkier stones. I like a lot of garnets, amethyst. I love pearls.

NJ: Who handles all the orders and behind the scenes?
CS: It’s solely me. I’ve marketed and networked myself. I have a MySpace page that I started and a Facebook page, and the company that designed my Web site found me through Facebook.

NJ: Your jewelry has been on a number of celebrities, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Brandy, to name a few. How did they find out about you?
CS: Brandy purchased a necklace at a boutique in Scottsdale that sold my jewelry (her boyfriend had played for the Phoenix Suns at the time, so she went on some shopping sprees when visiting Arizona). And Beyonce is a fun story...her and her mom were in Women’s Wear Daily on the page before me in 2007 featuring their line, House of Dereon. After the release of that magazine, I sent them a letter with the article and our relationship went from there.

Next up for Saba? Phoenix Fashion Week, where she’ll be creating pieces to accessorize the gowns of a local bridal designer. Her latest collection features chunky statement necklaces that are right on trend. I'm looking forward to what this bright young thing will come up with next.

To check out more of Cassy's designs, visit her Web site, CassySassyJewelry.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Cassy’s Sassy Jewelry
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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