Cardiff-based fashion stylist and vintage jeweler Heather Feemster sat down with San Marcos jewelry designer Anna Swonetz to enjoy a proper cup of Yorkshire tea and talk shop.
Heather: Where are you from originally, and what brought you to America’s Finest City? I grew up in Nottingham, where Robin Hood is from! I met my husband, Brad, in the Yucatán at a photo shoot. My mum’s work sent her, and she invited me along. The first person I bumped into was Brad — he’s a photographer. We hit it off and stayed in touch, but eventually, I cut off contact, thinking there was no point since I lived in another country. A year and half later I got a message asking when I was going to live in L.A. We then spoke every day for months, and ... the rest is history.
I grew up here and still feel lucky every day. How’s life different in North County, compared to England? It’s a lot sunnier and drier. I love it here. It took me a long time to settle and build a life, but now that I have, it’s awesome.
“Awesome”? You’re such a Californian now! Oh, I meant “brilliant”!
When did you know you had a passion for making jewelry, and how did you turn that into a business? I’ve been making jewelry since I was about 7. I used something called fimo and would make my mum hilarious earrings — awful stuff, but she loved it. Materials are expensive in England, though, and I never imagined I could turn it into a business. After I moved, materials were accessible. One day I attended a jewelry party — which doesn’t exist in England — and the very next day I started Anna Bee Jewelry.
What’s the significance of the Bee? My best friend at university, Chrissy, came up with that as my nickname. I knew then if I was ever going to have a business, that’s what it would be called. I have a signature bee tag on every piece.
With my last name being Feemster, I was “The Feem” growing up. When I started my line, a friend suggested using “La,” knowing my passion for all things Latin. We’re lucky that our names were already chosen for us!
How did the look of your line come about? I love making one-of-a-kind gifts that have meaning, so I started with the personalized necklaces. And I’ve always loved wearing earrings and am drawn to creating simple geometric shapes.
When you start a new collection, do you know exactly what you’re going to design? I have a sketchpad with me at all times. I often wake up in the middle of the night and draw. I don’t stop until I’ve gotten it down on paper, but once I start working with metals it sometimes takes a different direction.
Any advice for someone dreaming of becoming a jewelry designer? Anyone can make jewelry, but to be successful you need to be a really good businessperson — and if you’re not naturally, you need to learn. So don’t do it unless you are prepared for the jewelry business to be your life. I don’t mean to sound negative; this is my life, and I love it.
Thank you, Anna!
Anna Bee Jewelry is available for purchase at The Bellagio, Beckley in the Cosmopolitan Hotel (Vegas), Beckley on Melrose Avenue, Pink Mascara (online) and Mog & Rue (Encinitas), and at annabeejewelry.com. Visit lafeem.com for more from Heather.