Boss Babes: Meet Shelley Sanders

Feature image via Chelsea Leogrande

Women across the country are making changes to OG industries. They’re seeing a gap in different markets and filling them with kick-ass endeavors that are transforming the spaces as we know it. Consequence? Yeah, we don’t think so. From our very own EIC to today’s Boss Babe, they’re tackling the well-familiar, flipping it on its head, and providing a product or service that is worthy for all of our Instagram feeds.

That’s why we just had to feature Shelley Sanders. As a veteran in the jewelry-making biz, she’s designed for dozens of companies that even some of our favorite A-list celebrities have worn. However, when she realized that the fine-jewelry industry had a hole in its market, she took things into her own hands and created a last-stop-shop brand that every woman in your family would love: The Last Line. With jaw-dropping designs that’ll make you want to empty out your bank account, this LA-based brand has taken the familiar and twisted it with swoon-worthy diamond details and simple silhouettes with a can’t-believe-our-eyes price point that’s hard to ignore. While Sanders has begun the company by just selling earrings, she’s about to introduce a whole new collection that involves rings, bracelets, and necklaces — and you can bet we’ll be in line to purchase.


Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

Hometown:

Los Angeles

Current location:

Los Angeles

Birth sign:

Gemini

Favorite piece from TLL:

Right now, the huggie charms and I have been rocking our next [collection], which includes some necklaces.

Must-have LA restaurant:

Escuela Taqueria // Coffee shop in The Beverly Hills Hotel

Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

Celebrity you’d love to grab a drink with: 

These days, I’m happiest with wine with my husband… BUT if Billy Murray walked in and joined us, I’d be thrilled.

Number two on your bucket list:

Live on the beach.

First thing you do when you wake up: 

Hug my middle child. [M]y son Arrow always wakes me up by climbing [into] my bed, [he’s] just shy of six. It’s (normally) a nice start to my day.

Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in the jewelry industry?

If [I had to describe myself] in only three words: mother, designer, and wife, because those are my favorites titles to hold. I love jewelry, always have and imagine I always will. My career technically began in New York where I studied Fine Arts at Parsons before returning home to California to train with Master Jewelers in San Francisco. After learning pretty much everything I could, I returned to Los Angeles to as they say, “begin my career.” Over time (and companies!) my roles evolved and I became the head designer and creative director for dozens of celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses, working with everything from costume jewelry, gold, diamonds, and precious stones. But… I always kept a notebook of ideas and looking back, I’m glad I did.

Why and how did you come up with The Last Line? How did you come up with the name?

After designing jewelry for over fifteen years, I felt like I had seen it all and somehow something was still missing. In each job and project, there was the thought in the back of my mind… if this was my line, how would I do this? Around three years ago, it was less of [an] idea and more of a plan, I wanted to create the last line of jewelry you’ll ever need. So I got serious and did my research and I found there were definite holes in the market: reasonably priced, not-so-great design, or amazing design and quality, [but] outrageous price with nothing in the middle — which I found so frustrating. From there, I began speaking about my theory with [a] panel of friends, family, mom’s in the pick-up line at school — really anyone — and realized I was definitely not alone in that feeling.  

We launched in July and the inspiration behind the name of The Last Line is that this will be the last place you’ll have [the] need to look for fine jewelry and I really want to live up to our name. My goal was to design classics with a twist and honor the craftsmanship of pieces from the past. For me, it’s how a woman mixes her jewelry collection that is cool. 

Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

The Last Line’s motto is to rewrite the rules of the jewelry world. What are some of the ways your company is accomplishing this idea?

One, I think there is still a notion that fine jewelry is reserved for special occasions and those days are (long) gone! Women are wearing fine jewelry day-to-night and mixing in old and new. For me, it’s how a woman mixes her jewelry collection that is cool and a goal of mine was to make pieces you can wear and not worry about. What’s the fun in owning something you can’t wear?

Second, there can be a lot of intimidation around purchasing fine jewelry, whether that is because of price or materials. We want to make women (and men!) comfortable shopping for pieces whether it’s [their] first piece or fiftieth. Because we are direct to consumer, we can present amazing, quality pieces without a retail markup so you are really getting the best diamond, gold, etc. for your money. And we can connect directly with our customers, if you have a question, ask, I’d be thrilled to meet you and help out.

Even though you’ve been in the jewelry industry for almost two decades, there must have been some new things you’ve learned when you created The Last Line. What were some of the most surprising things you’d experienced that made you grow as a person and an entrepreneur? 

For me, starting my own line was quickly about so much more than just designing; learning number one! The second is learning to end a situation that isn’t working as quickly as possible. Being direct and fiercely focused is sometimes difficult for me, but not so much anymore! I’ve realized how important it is to be perfectly clear about everything and extremely direct, whether it’s in regards to design, tone of voice, a business relationship, or a new hire, I’ve paid hard for times I wasn’t clear. Most importantly, go with your gut and trust yourself.

The Last Line pieces are bold, fun, classic, and swoon-worthy. How do you determine what designs you’re going to create? Do you have a sense of what is sellable?

It’s a mix, I have an idea of what I think will sell but I’m always met by wildcards. There are two parts to The Last Line: The Heart and The Soul. With the Heart, I try really hard to gauge the pieces women want and try to listen to their requests, whether from Instagram, e-mail, or even in-person. I think there is a classic side to the line of pieces that every woman could use, reliable pieces that you can wear whenever. The Soul is handmade in Los Angeles and what I think of as modern heirlooms. I love to design and create and have been known to get sucked into a design because it’s technically interesting or challenging. If it were up to me I would design pieces every single day, all day. In the simplest form, I design what I love and what I think women love but I have a rule, I must create pieces that I would always be happy to wear.

Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

For some, fine jewelry shopping can be scary. What do you say to those people who are thinking about investing in few pieces, but are afraid to make the plunge? 

I think everyone should have one special piece, something that makes you feel really special. Fine jewelry can be expensive, but I think like investing in anything, it’s often worth it. One of my deciding factors in launching direct-to-consumer was because of price. If you have $500 to spend, I want to get you the best piece(s) for your spend. Trust me, you deserve it.

While you could’ve been helping design jewelry for other big businesses, you decided to create your own company to build the pieces you felt like were missing in the industry. How did you know you were ready to try something new? Was there a moment in your career when you had an epiphany and knew this journey was meant to be?  

When I realized [there was] a problem I wanted to solve, this started The Last Line. I could have done a collection at many [points] in my career but it was not until I felt like I was attempting to change to this very crowded and noisy space that it was time to create something of my own. I have created hundreds of designs for people and companies over the years and I always felt my own designs within those, but it wasn’t until we saw the space in the market that we chose to create something from the ground up.

Even though you’re only selling earrings at the moment, you’ll be introducing necklaces, rings, and bracelets. Can you give us a sneak peek as to what we may be able to expect from these collections? 

You’ll have to wait and see! [But] I can guarantee there is something for everyone and at least one of the designs is something you’ve been looking for! 🙂

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?

Creating and designing more The Last Line jewelry! Hopefully, branching out to another category or two.

Any advice for future boss babes, especially those looking to create their own jewelry brand?

Find a problem you want to solve with the design, define a voice and never look back.

Photo cred: Chelsea Leogrande

If you need to dress your bod in these stunning pieces, make sure to check out The Last Line. We don’t promise you’ll have money afterwards. 


Written by Raven Ishak

Photography via Chelsea Leogrande

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