Designer Kimberly McDonald always loved natural stones. But the North Carolina native never imagined her creations — dazzling yet earthy hand-crafted jewelry — would catch the eye of stars such as Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and even First Lady Michelle Obama.
Just last month, she opened her first freestanding Kimberly McDonald boutique on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. But more exciting for us, McDonald launched an exclusive home accessories line at Forty Five Ten in Dallas that mirrors the aesthetic of her iconic jewelry.
Both her jewelry and home collections are crafted from materials such as agate, geode, and untreated materials like recycled diamonds, reclaimed wood, gold and raw gemstones. We caught up with one of Hollywood’s favorite jewelry designers to find out why she chose Dallas to launch her chic new collection, which ranges from a bedazzled Champagne saver to sterling silver bezel-set agate book ends accented with diamonds.
“I am so into the mixture of textures and materials and how the things that we surround ourselves with subliminally affect our mood and energy,” McDonald says.
CultureMap: How long have you been designing jewelry?
Kimberly McDonald: Since 2007. Prior to my own line, I worked as a curator of personal jewelry collections.
CM: Did you always know you wanted to be a jewelry designer?
KM: Not at all. I did know that I always loved rocks. I collected them as a child and had an affinity for agates. I also loved jewelry and was known to sneak into my mother or grandmother’s jewelry box and pile on whatever I could find. I guess that is where I cultivated my love of mixing materials and textures.
While I was working with clients to curate their private jewelry collections, I had occasion to design one-of-a-kind pieces for their heirloom stones or interesting stones that we would acquire. Over time, a couple of my clients would just ask me from the onset to design pieces for their respective collections.
It was not long after this started happening that my closest friend and now business partner, Trish McKeon, turned to me and said “You know, you should start your own line.” I had never considered it until that moment, but once she said it, it became as natural an idea as breathing.
CM: When did you the idea first occur to you to launch items for the home?
KM: Branching my collection into home was an organic extension. I have always loved home décor. I am so into the mixture of textures and materials and how the things that we surround ourselves with subliminally affect our mood and energy.
“I chose to launch exclusively in Dallas at Forty Five Ten because they have a very sophisticated clientele, and I knew that they would give me excellent feedback,” McDonald says.
Because I believe my jewelry has an amazing and distinctive energy, I figured why not bring that earthen goodness to people’s home? Plus a certain clever client once told me that she loved her long geode chain so much that whenever she was not wearing it she would lay it across her dressing table just so she could look at it every day.
We launched the vintage collection first because I really love the idea of repurposing pieces and outfitting them with the unique, natural materials that I use in my jewelry collection. I chose to launch exclusively in Dallas at Forty Five Ten because they have a very sophisticated clientele, and I knew that they would give me excellent feedback — and they did! The first shipment [of the vintage collection] they received last December sold out as it was being unpacked.
CM: What do you believe makes your designs so distinctive?
KM: Well, for the fine jewelry collection, I was probably the first to really establish a brand that is based off of natural materials in their original, unfinished shape, combined with fine materials like diamond and 18-karat (in my case recycled) gold, with very fine hand-made mountings that are created in the United States. Same goes for our signature irregular bezels.
The same very fine handmade feeling comes through with the home products. It is the pairing of natural elements and fine quality that really sets us apart.
CM: Is there an item you are most excited about when it comes to your new home accessories?
KM: A very difficult question. Each piece, for one reason or another is a favorite, but at the top might be the Lucite box topped with amethyst. But, honestly, I love them all. Oh and the vintage tea trays are to-die-for.
“Dallas is a wonderful market, which has always gotten my design point of view and the DNA of the brand,” McDonald says.
CM: What was the greatest challenge in launching your home accessories line?
KM: The greatest challenge is manufacturing, always. To create pieces that are one-of-a-kind is the way old-school luxury operates, and I consider our method for bringing the finest products to our clientele very old-school.
Everything is laid out by me and designed by hand and made by hand. So that process itself is more of a challenge than mass producing the same item over and over.
CM: What made you decide to launch your home accessories line exclusively in Dallas? What makes the store so special to you?
KM: Dallas is a wonderful market, which has always “gotten” my design point of view and the DNA of the brand. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to see the collection debut. This is a community of art lovers and fashionistas.
And Forty Five Ten? What can I say that has not been said of this amazing retail operation? Brian is one of my close friends, and the dialogue between us is always open.
I remember the day I told him I was going to introduce a home collection and he said, “We are in.” I said, “You haven’t seen it yet.” And he replied, “I know your taste, I know your work and I believe in your vision.” So you can understand why an exclusive launch at Forty Five Ten was a no-brainer for me.
CM: Why do you believe your home accessories line will resonate with Dallas women and men?
KM: Dallas men and women do things right. They dress, they entertain, they’re beautiful. The KMD Home collection is ideal for the lifestyle of our Dallas clients.