When WAG first visited with Samantha Levine back in 2013, the founder and creative director of Auburn Jewelry had put her law career on hold.
Levine told us she long worked to create a balance between academics and the arts, but it was finally time to take a creative leap of faith. She was devoting all her attention to designing and handcrafting jewelry, something that had captivated her — and a portion of her studies — since the age of 14.
“I’m going to take it day by day,” she told us. “I would absolutely love to do this forever.”
Well, three years may not be forever — but it’s certainly a solid start, as a recent stop by Levine’s Mount Kisco metals studio proved.
“A lot’s changed since then,” she said with a laugh.
For one, the stark cement-block space now sports a lovely pink-accented décor. An oversize map fills one wall, pins denoting places where Auburn Jewelry has been sold.
Jewelry lovers from Alaska to Australia — part of a mix that includes four continents, 14 countries and 43 states — have been scooping up Auburn Jewelry’s classic-with-a-twist designs that touch on everything from initials to athletics, luck, love, New York City (including a hot pretzel) and the ever-popular animal themes.
Known best for offering exclusive, customizable lines in sterling silver, 14-karat gold and enamel, the company has expanded from pendants to include cufflinks, bag charms and, most recently, delicate — and ideal for stocking stuffers — stud earrings that work as well on a sweet young lady as a funky older gal with multiple piercings.
“I still make every piece by hand — for now,” Levine said with a smile. Yes, she’s just given us a clue to her latest leap — working with a manufacturer.
“I feel like this happened pretty naturally,” she said of the collaboration that, she emphasized, is based in Brooklyn.
“That was very important for me, to keep everything local.”
With samples now in hand — “The quality is out of this world” — she expects to introduce the results early next year.
“They’re still going to have that artistic and handmade feel,” she assured, allowing us to see the early pieces. “It’s still me. It’s all Auburn Jewelry designs.”
It was a necessary step, as was expanding her team.
“From the beginning, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the business as big as I wanted to without doing the manufacturing.”
She will continue to design every piece, working with clients on custom designs and continuing to promote the company at special events. These have included trunk shows at Bloomingdale’s in White Plains and at The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey, with a pop-up event set for Dec. 10 at hip-kid in Chappaqua. She’s also been meeting with national department stores in hopes of establishing an ongoing presence.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s so cool to see the pieces in one of these big stores,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
And, as she has all along, Levine continues her philanthropy.
“It’s really important to me that Auburn Jewelry finds a way to give back to the community.”
In addition to a longstanding association with the SPCA of Westchester, Levine continues to donate to charitable causes. She has created designs in support of mental health and suicide prevention, working with the Mental Health Association of Westchester, and helped underprivileged children through The Birthday Box, a Mount Kisco-based social-action program.
Auburn also recently introduced the Love Each Other line, created in reaction to the terror attacks in Paris and Orlando, Florida. Buyers of its heart-themed designs can select which “nonviolent, peace-loving organization” will benefit.
It’s clear that Levine has crafted her own niche, and despite a schedule that includes 16-hour days during the holiday season, said, “It doesn’t feel like work. It definitely doesn’t feel like work.”
She added that anyone inspired by her story could take lessons with her, with students having ranged from age 10 through adults.
“I love teaching. That’s like another way to give back.”
Oh, and that law degree? It does come in handy.
As she said with quite a laugh, “I was able to file my own trademark.”
For more, visit auburn-jewelry.com.