Founded by CEO Sarah E. Kaplan, VUE by SEK is a handcrafted jewelry line made in the U.S. Sarah’s love of art began with an internship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where she later worked after earning a degree in art history. She now lives with her fiancé in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sarah draws inspiration from her catalog of art exhibitions and juxtaposition of organic, natural elements. Designs have a simple elegance making them appropriate for both casual and formal attire. A soon to be bride, Sarah loves designing bridal pieces and since the pandemic forced her to postpone her wedding, she is currently working on a collection with brides-to-be in mind.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
It would be hard to pinpoint one defining event. I have always been drawn to art and the creative jewelry process. Instead my career path feels like the culmination of many small events that have led me to where I am now.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
The creativity! Throughout my career I was always looking for ways to infuse creative processes into my work. Having a career that is creative in every element is immensely rewarding and exactly what I was always looking for.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I started with exploring and experimenting with designs on my own. From there, I made the commitment to study under a goldsmith. At that time I was also lucky enough to connect with an incredible jewelry designer from my hometown. Her knowledge of the industry was a real turning point in the process and a true motivator to research and always be open to learning more about the industry.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
I am lucky to have such a supportive community behind me. My parents, friends, and former colleagues were all more supportive than I could have ever expected.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
Of course, it would be a lie to say that there is no self doubt when making such a big pivot from your former career path. There have been times where I was left feeling discouraged from an initiative that didn’t go the way I expected. Regardless, I always get over those feelings rather quickly. In fact it is always a driving force when you overcome those moments and find yourself more determined in your career than before.
When did your career reach a tipping point?
Honestly, I don’t know when we will officially hit that big tipping point. It’s kind of a moving target at this moment with each milestone motivating us to strive to reach that next big goal.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
This year has certainly impacted everyone in different ways. As a business, we had exciting plans to really scale our retail partners. As shops and shows closed throughout the nation, we had to make a strategic pivot. We chose to shift all of our efforts to marketing and to enhance our customer experience to grow our online community. Now as the retail world is reopening their doors, we have a more thoughtful individualized approach to slowly build those relationships with new retail partners. Overall the pivot to refocusing all of our effort on what matters the most, our community, has led to so many new elements that I am really proud of.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Flexibility is the skill that throughout my career has always served me well.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Making jewelry that is truly meaningful to our clients. There have been some pretty cool developments since starting, but for me it is those moments when you know others care and love the designs you are putting out in the world that stand out the most. I can think back to early on when a bride chose a pair of VUE earrings as her something blue for her elopement. While it was just one pair, it was this moment of realization that VUE by SEK jewelry is just as meaningful to our clients.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
Don’t worry if the path you take is not the same as everyone else. Learn from those around you and experiment. There is no one route to success and it will take time and effort to get where you are going.
Photos courtesy of VUE by SEK.