The A-List

DESIGNING WOMAN CARA BROWN

It’s been a whirlwind summer for jewelry designer Cara Brown. With boutique sales and trunk shows on Nantucket, and in Dallas and Bay Head, she’s left a long line of delighted customers in her wake. Now she’s back at home for a bit, enjoying her gem of a farmhouse in Hopewell Township, and we checked in to get the scoop on her latest designs and future travel plans. Best known for her line of one-of-a-kind, 1800s-era, Horse Brass necklaces, Brown is always honing her keen eye for Found Object offerings as well. Her latest find? A limited supply of antique initials and Bakelite monogram pieces. This fall, the Texas native will head back to her stomping grounds for a slate of trunk shows in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin, as well as in Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City. If you’re looking to shop local for your next Cara Brown treasure, head to Ashton-Whyte in Pennington, or Lambertville’s Zinc Home. In the meantime, enjoy our full interview with the designer herself, which originally appeared in Bricks & Mortar: Fall/Winter 2018, Vol. 4:

On her early design days: “I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Human and Organizational Development, and almost immediately strayed from my major. A friend and I began making Christmas ornaments out of antique jewelry and vintage beads, and we loved the process of scouring stores, thrift shops, and estate sales. The jeweled Christmas balls found their way into local boutiques in Fort Worth, Texas, and were eventually distributed by Neiman Marcus.”

On the birth of her brand: “In 2016, during a day of fall cleaning in my home, I was sorting through a box of old jewelry. I thought I could make necklaces and incorporate some of the ideas I had learned from my parents: antiques repurposed, giving people a story, making something old into something current and ageless. I made a few necklaces for myself and people started buying them literally off of my neck—in the nail salon, on airplanes, out of the back of my car at the gym. Each of these instances encouraged me to take the next step.”

On her eponymous line: Cara Brown Designs is made up of two lines: Found Object and Horse Brass. Every necklace is one-of-a-kind and hand-knotted with semiprecious stones and vintage beads. The Found Object necklaces are just that: I-know-it-when-I-see-it pieces ranging from antique belt buckles to old brooches to classic-era pendants. The Horse Brass necklaces are made with original horse brasses once used to decorate the leather bridles of English working horses in the late 1800s. To take objects that are more than 150 years old and give them new life, a new look, and a new story is inspiring to me. I handwrite my tags and give each client the origin of the piece that they’ve acquired.”

CaraBrown for Blog_2

On living in Hopewell: “[When we moved to] New Jersey, my family fell in love with Hopewell Township and an 18th-century farmhouse in particular—a feast for my insatiable appetite for old things. Fifteen years later, we love that we’ve raised our children in an area that is steeped in the trials and victories that made up the early history of our country. We love experiencing the culture of a small town while having easy access to N.Y.C. and Philadelphia. We love the landscape, the bounty we enjoy from being part of a community farm, and the local restaurants that were farm-to-table before it became a ‘thing.’ There are few places in the country that bring together the sophistication and access of the most avant-garde cities in the world with the ‘main street’ feel from another era. We feel like we are in on a secret by getting to live here.”

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