Alex Woo

Founder & Jewelry DesignerNew YorkPhotos & Story by Lauri Levenfeld
When you meet Alex, it becomes clear very quickly that this talented artist not only has  profound creativity, but a clear and purposeful strategy on executing her vision and growing the success of her business. A die-hard (born and raised) New Yorker, Alex celebrates the energy, people and surroundings of her city through her jewelry pieces-  telling personal stories,  supporting local causes, and maintaining a totally local brand and local production. At a young age it took a brave moment to enter a design contest (and win!), the rest is history and entrepreneurial magic.
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1. Tell me about yourself and your passion for your work.

I am  jewelry designer that was born and raised in New York City, with an eponymous collection of jewelry that I proudly make in New York City.  NYC has this incredible energy and fast pace, so I am constantly inspired by everything I see and very influenced  by the city where I grew up and now reside. My own showroom and workshop is located just by the heart of Rockefeller Center and I love it! Although some might find it overwhelming, I love walking through the city streets and finding new discoveries all the time – whether it’s style on the street, cutting-edge architecture, or beautiful storefronts, there’s always something to look at.


2. How have you crafted a business that is local and sustainable? What are your practices?

I am a firm believer in supporting local artisans, suppliers and jewelers – I work exclusively with those craftsmen and women here in New York City.  As a born and bred New Yorker I feel it is only appropriate that my jewelry is also made here, as my philosophy is that if someone wears my brand, I want them to also be an essential part of this great city.

I know that if businesses like mine don’t support local artisans, we will slowly start losing this valuable skilled labor to other parts of the world and that is something we cannot let happen.


It is personally important to me that we support and cultivate local talent to keep the vibrancy of New York City alive.


3. When did you know this is exactly what you wanted to do?

At a young age I knew I wanted to be some type of artist, and I loved sculpting. But it wasn’t until I had some formal training in Jewelry Design Rendering and wax carving, did I discover my passion for jewelry.   My professor at the time encouraged me to enter a national design competition sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association. Since it was my first competition and I was competing with professional designers from all across the country, I didn’t have high expectations.  So imagine my surprise when I found out I won the grand prize!  This moment ended up being a real turning point for me as this incredible honor was what gave me the vote of confidence to launch my own collection.

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4. Your line has become a celebrity favorite, how did the word get out?

Storytelling is a really important part of what I do. All of my Little Icons from Alex Woo stand for a story – who you are, what you’ve done, where you’ve been – with an infinite number of meanings for each design.  My jewelry all taps into a feeling or emotion and is highly personal, which I think is why people gravitate towards it. With celebrities, just like all of us, there are moments, occasions and people that we are proud of and cherish in our own special way.  So celebrity moms like January Jones, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez all have my Little Letters that represent the names of their children.  

When Eva Longoria was campaigning for President Obama, she wore my Little Activist Donkey as that was symbolic of a cause that meant something to her.   I’ve also been very active in charitable initiatives and have worked on design collaborations to support a cause they champion – most recently I worked with the Platinum Guild and Lyn Paolo, the Costume Designer for Scandal to create a limited edition necklace that supports a program dedicated to honey bee research.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with DisneyNature for a few years, and most recently designed a piece inspired by their latest movie, Monkey Kingdom.  Lastly and most importantly, I have collaborated with Christina Applegate to benefit her Right Action for Women Foundation – a cause that is most close to my heart because I lost my mother to Breast Cancer.


5. What is it about you that has made your dreams come true?

I love what I do, which is what I attribute to so many of my dreams coming true – working as a designer and artist is highly competitive and it’s important to enjoy and feel pride in what you create. I also love the people that I have met and worked with along this journey, and have learned so much through them.  It’s understanding through trial and error that things won’t always end up the way you envisioned it, but sometimes what you get at the end can be even better.  At the end of the day, I just love waking up and going to work, and that feeling is what can be most rewarding.

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6. What is your inspiration on the street?

I love the city and all it has to offer.   I’m constantly inspired by women and their personal stories, so much of my inspiration comes from the daily interaction I have with friends, family, and even strangers.  It’s fun to see what women are wearing in the street, in my elevator, and at the office.   I’m very lucky to be able to walk to work everyday and observe and absorb the trends on the street.  Just by looking at how people dress, you can guess what industry they work in. At the end of the day, if you’re confident, you can wear absolutely anything! .  As for my jewelry, it’s all about making a personal statement about yourself.  The best part of all of it is, once someone buys it and makes it her own, whatever my inspiration was will transform into whatever her personal meaning is– and that same one piece can look completely different on two people.  

7. Where will you be for NYFW?

I adore the energy of the city during NYFW – I miss having the shows at Bryant Park which was just down the street from my offices; it was so much fun to see everyone getting ready for the shows!  I really enjoy reading WWD and The Business of Fashion for their reviews after the shows; being able to see it in the quiet of my office allows me to really experience the new designs and let the new trends sink in.  As far as my schedule, I will be all over the place…this is such a dynamic time to see industry friends and take in all the fashion.


For more on Alex and her creations, hop over to JOLIEGAZETTE for more word on the business of bling.


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