When Lisa Sahakian discovered that she would no longer be paid overtime at her job, she decided to pursue a side hustle to earn more money.
She started making charm necklaces for her boyfriend, then her friends, and finally her friends’ friends.
Although she had no experience in jewelry making – she hardly wore much – Sahakian managed to create charm bracelets, necklaces and earrings, inspired in large part by humor and pop culture symbols. She decided to call him “Ian Charms”, as an ode to his Armenian heritage, as many Armenian surnames end in “ian”.
“It was so spontaneous. The moment was so crazy, because charm jewelry wasn’t a thing, and it happened the way I did,” Sahakian told WWD. “I was just doing stuff luckily our first clients were our friends and we did theirs three times and then we figured it out. We were just figuring it out as we went along.
Sahakian, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, slowly began crafting her boutique jewelry last September, along with her boyfriend, largely creating custom orders for customers. She would post pieces she had made on Instagram and sell them through the app.
Eventually, her designs landed on Post Malone’s stylist radar, though the rapper never ended up wearing the piece she made for him. But Ian Charms caught the eye of another big name in Lorenzo Posocco, who dresses Dua Lipa. So Sahakian ended up creating not one personalized necklace for the British singer, but several, including one with a pendant of her dog.
“I worked with her stylist to get her all these customs and she just wore them for a few days and posted a story to thank me,” Sahakian said. “So that’s what really got her off the ground. She does that with so many small businesses. I have so much respect for an artist who knows what she’s doing and helps. So she was so major Even now, when she wears one, I get just as excited.
After Dua Lipa wore her necklace, more and more celebrities started donning 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 featuring well-known pop culture characters. 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 personally wear and “what’s going on in pop culture that [they] really find it funny.
“Having a sense of irony and humor is super important. So these little pendants that we do, I think these definitely made us stand out,” Sahakian said. “Everything we found it funny…even the neutral pieces, I feel like I almost had to make up for being neutral by being a lot crazier and having really weird beads on them, 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. The company’s two full-time employees so far have been herself and her boyfriend, although they also have a few part-time employees.
In March, she also closed her custom jewelry requests as they started piling up and she had to catch up on three months of orders, which was one of the biggest challenges she faced as a business.
“I can’t do customs for everyone, so we had to close them,” Sahakian said. “But it’s kind of special, because it’s all limited edition, basically. When it’s sold out it doesn’t usually restock and if you want it, get it as soon as it’s available.
Sahakian always tries to manage the logistics of running Ian Charms, especially when working with others to ensure they don’t take advantage of a small business.
Ian Charms always offers new pieces every Friday at noon PT, but they tend to sell out within hours. Next month, Sahakian plans to work on the clothes.
“I think the good thing about having no idea what you’re doing is that we don’t really put limits on it. So we’re still figuring out a brand voice and everything,” Sahakian said. “We talked about doing housewares or collaborating with artists or brands that we think are really cool and fit the aesthetic. We’re really open to anything, but I think clothing will be a very big part of it and jewelry will always be a big part of it, that’s for sure.
Looking ahead, Sahakian hopes to continue making fun, “wacky” jewelry and stay true to creating designs that are humorous and pop culture relevant.
“I always want people to feel like I’m in on the joke. I feel like there’s a lot of people out there who wouldn’t have a sense of humor and that’s okay, that’s not isn’t for everyone,” Sahakian said. “We want it to stay super curated and always limited-edition. We never really want to do it for the masses. I think it will always be our beacon. »
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