She gave up her media profession to develop into a jewellery designer
Marla Aaron always envied her friends who attended art school, but even that had never occurred to her. Raised in Bedford, NY, she was a good student with an eye for style and a creative streak. She made jewelry for friends from fish hooks and parts from the parts her grandmother had thrown away, but her crafting was more of a fidget than a calling.
A trip to Argentina as a foreign student and the resulting fluency in Spanish should shape her career for the next two decades. Her first job was selling commercials for the Spanish Broadcasting System, a Spanish-speaking radio network. Later in her 20s she moved to Madrid where she worked in sales for Spanish magazines Cosmopolitan and Elle.
She returned to New York and spent a year at Columbia University’s Journalism Graduate School, but after that she was pretty much back to where she had started, working in a number of jobs in the media industry. “It was all pretty boring,” she says. Her situation worsened in her mid-30s when she was fired from her job as Marketing Director for Departures magazine, a newly divorced single mother with a young son. “That was a very tough time,” she says.
The days were devoted to job hunting, and she began knitting and even soldering at night. An image had struck her that she couldn’t stop: a pendant in the shape of a carabiner, the heavy-duty clips popular with climbers. She wasn’t particularly outdoors, but she was obsessed with the item’s sleek, architectural silhouette. She wanted to make versions out of gold, silver, and platinum.
She found a new job as public relations director for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade organization, and spent her lunch hours browsing the shops in Manhattan’s diamond district, chatting to vendors and showing them the snap hook she wanted to reinterpret as jewelry. “People tried and said, ‘No, this is too much work,’” she recalls. “I had an idea of a level of quality and excellence that went well beyond the organic, rough-hewn pieces I made in what I call ‘arts festival jewelry.’ ”