Brit Parks: What drove you to start your own line?
Piper Dano: I was waitressing and had two very small children, six months and three years old and I saw a necklace on someone that I loved. There wasn’t enough money to buy it and I thought, I could make that. I walked into a local jewelry store that sold beads and findings. I started to talk to the owner and I told him what I wanted to do and he asked if I knew how to wire wrap a bead. I said no and he said "Pay attention, I charge a lot to teach this but here goes." He showed me how and I was hooked. I asked him to get me everything I needed to make a necklace. It was $500 which, at that time felt like $5000 but I went for it. I put my kids to bed and went to work. My first piece was very bad but the next necklace sold off my neck. People began to buy pieces and with that money I went to antique markets and found my first antique watch fob. I made a necklace and I was off to the races and I have never looked back. That was almost 21 years ago.
BP: What’s a specific point of inspiration to you?
PD: My inspiration has always come from my desire for women to feel beautiful no matter what stage in life they are in. When I started, I just wanted to feel good in my tee my baby threw up on! I make all of my pieces with the idea that women have a lot on their plates at any given moment. Accessories should be easy to throw on and be that special addition to give you spark and make people notice.
Brit Parks: What draws you to antique pieces and relics?
Piper Dano: My mom and I have always loved antiquing. I adore the Victorian era and love the story of pieces of that era. Lockets that still have pictures in them are my favorite; I usually make up a story in my head. Back in the early days of photography, a photo sitting took at least five minutes. I can barely sit for an iPhone picture these days! That is why a lot of pictures in the early 1900’s look dour. They aren’t, they just couldn’t hold a smile long enough to capture their emotion.
BP: Where do you source your materials?
PD: I get my antiques from a few sources all over the world. I only buy from the 1880's-1920's therefore, I know exactly what I am looking for. As for my stones, I have a great source in Los Angeles that get the highest quality beads from all over the globe. My diamonds are from a great source in NYC. I love to go there and figure it out with them, it's such a fun part of the process.
BP: What’s your dream day off?
PD: My dream day off is to go shopping with my children. I have a 21 and 15 year old daughter. We go to lunch and talk about how hard it can be to be 21 and 15 and almost 50! I also have a 23 year old son who I adore; he is an actor and painter. He and I love to go out to eat and just catch up on life. My kids are everything to me. When I feel down or don’t know what my next move is, spending time with them centers me and reminds me that they are what's most important in life. All the other stuff is just stuff.
Portrait, Sohail Fazluddin
Styling, Laura Guth
Photograph, Emma Johnston, 1865, unknown subject
Victorian Spy Camera Watch, 1890
Mourning Locket, 1821