PROFILE: Meet Olivia Rüst, Founder of a Sustainable Jewelry Line
Written by Melissa Troeller
Leave it to jewelry designer Olivia Rust to take a trend and make it unique and eco-friendly. The new Santa Barbara resident brings sustainably sourced materials to her designs while supporting female artisans. The line consists of charm bracelets and chunky chain link bracelets for everyday wear, perfect to dress up a casual outfit. We spoke with Olivia to learn more about her most popular designs and inspiration for relocating to Santa Barbara.
How did you come to start Olivia Rust?
When I was a Master’s student studying fashion entrepreneurship in London, I noticed the lack of self-expression and personal aesthetic in the way women were dressing and accessorizing, noting a global adoption of trends as a direct result of fast fashion and social media. In response, I decided to create a line centered around self-expression and empowering women to dress authentically. Following a career in the custom menswear industry, I launched my collection of modern charm bracelets this spring.
What inspired you to design sustainable jewelry?
Making jewelry doesn't have to come at a cost to our values and our planet. That is why sustainability is at the core of the brand. Our pieces are handcrafted from recycled metals and ethically sourced gemstones. We also support village-based female artisans in India who employ their regional jewelry skills and preserve the traditional craft of their communities.
What's your most popular piece and why?
The Sigmund Chain-Link Bracelet in Gold and Diamond Dome Lock are our best-selling pieces. Our customers love the Sigmund because it’s a modern take on the classic chain link that features oval links with smooth flat edges. The Diamond Dome is also a modern silhouette, with subtle flush set diamonds, it’s a versatile piece that can be worn day to night.
If you could start from the beginning what would you do differently in creating Olivia Rust Jewelry?
I would have launched sooner! It’s a scary thing to take a risk and launch a business, from concept to realization was about four years. The past few months have been so transformative in my personal and professional growth so, if anything, I wish I had had the courage to launch my collection earlier in my career.
What has been the biggest obstacle in creating Olivia Rust Jewelry?
The biggest challenge has been accepting that not everything will be perfect. When launching a new business it is easy to get caught up in the small details, wanting everything to be perfect when you launch your website, when posting a photo to Instagram, or when designing a new piece for the collection. I'm starting to understand the value in not getting caught up on perfection and instead getting your product out there, listening to your customers, evolving and improving as the brand continues to grow.
What makes Olivia Rust Jewelry unique?
Our collection is made up of chunky chain link bracelets, unique locks, and statement charms designed to inspire women to dress authentically. There are so many different ways to wear the pieces, the locks can be added to scarves or used as keychains, and two bracelets can be linked together and worn as a necklace. Our customers make each piece unique when styling them to their own personal aesthetic. The locks and charms are also limited runs: it’s a special thing to know you’re one of only 50 people with that piece.
Tell me more about your future plans for Olivia Rust Jewelry?
I’ve realized more and more people want to be involved in the design process. So, I’m currently working on bringing a co-creation platform to our website that will allow our customers to co-design their dream locks and charms.
What are your jewelry staples you can’t live without?
My Olivia Rüst Blue Sapphire Lock and I love a pinky ring.
Why did you move from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara?
My husband and I have been visiting Santa Barbara for years. We have good friends here, and every time we drove back to Los Angeles we asked ourselves, why are we leaving? With the multiple lockdowns of the past year, we wanted to relocate somewhere with closer proximity to the outdoors. We’re excited for bike rides, beach days, and weekend hikes to be a part of our new routine.
What is your favorite thing to do in Santa Barbara?
It is hard to pick just one. Biking to the Mission for a picnic encompasses most things I love about Santa Barbara. Taking in the beautiful architecture with the backdrop of the mountains while enjoying delicious local food in a setting where everyone is enjoying themselves.