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Meet Karla Lopez of Karlita Designs & Kaleidoscope Kollective in Echo Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla Lopez.

Karla, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Karlita Designs came out of a store I used to own, called “Blue Chips”. Blue Chips was a retail/gallery space that opened in “Highland Park” in 2002. It was an amazing place because we featured such a lovely community of musicians, DJs, artists, muralists, designers, up-and-coming fashion lines and jewelry designers. The mission was to support local artists and small companies. Blue Chips allowed me to develop my own jewelry line. Karlita Designs born in 2004. I wanted my jewelry to invoke healing properties from the gemstones and crystals I was using. I have always been inspired by the way nature makes you feel and I wanted to carry that healing energies into my work. The vision is to empower the wearer of the jewelry, I want anyone who wears Karlita Designs to feel sexy, protected, and fearless, and balanced when wearing my pieces, posses a duality. Sometimes my jewelry makes me feel like I’m putting on amour that is protective or transforms you into a superhero.

Jewelry was a new medium for me to explore my creativity. I learned about metalsmithing, metal casting and the production side of behind creating a line and all that goes into branding on my own. I was lucky enough to already be a part of an artistic community and the process was and is fascinating to me.

Over time, the jewelry line kept evolving into what it is today. Fifteen years later, I have had the pleasure of working with amazing photographers (let’s shout out a few: Pablo Aguilar, Grace Oh, Shayna Fontana) and create magic with beautiful models (here’s the 2nd batch of Shout outs: Kate Watson, Anahi Bustillos, India Christin, Demi Tigresa, Gennaai Nakama and many more). I am honored to have been worn by artists like Low Leaf, Christina Applegate, Elizabeth Anweis, Erykah Badu, Alison Holker, Jesse Bliss, DJ Lady Sha, Shiva, Alia Mohammed, Stana Katic, and Sarah Carter. I have had the opportunity of working with a talented team of stylists, makeup and hair artists (last shout outs: stylists Todd Pearce, Lucy Warren, Antoinette Cardenas), and such talented hair and makeup artists like Kimberly Bragalone, Melissa Tolentino, Tony Vin, Sherry Younge from the Artform Studios, and Veronica Valdivia. Around 2010, I found representation L.A. showroom Chantal Accessories and we pushed my brand even further. Some of the highlights have been producing several fashion shows and being featured in fashion shows. This all led me to become a partner at Kaleidoscope Kollective, a retail store in Echo Park.

Kaleidoscope Kollective is owned by myself and three female designers (Maribel Reveles of Patchouli Nomad, Virginia Ayala of De La Luna Designs, Michelle Meza Smith of Sunqu Misti Jewelry) and we are about to embark on our 4th anniversary. The mission behind our store is “women supporting women”. We showcase many other local women-owned companies and artists. Our motto is “to reflect your beauty and creativity to one another” and our goal is to help others grow their brand and business. I remember when we were first starting the company and some said, “how difficult it was going to be with four women.” We have found it to be the complete opposite. Our collaboration and business model has helped us to grow into better business women and grow personally as well. There is such support around you when you are on a team with a shared vision.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know that I intend to infuse healing in all my work whether be it an event, photoshoot or creating a new jewelry line I hope to both, give and receive “healing”, that fills us will inspiration and motivation fulfill our purpose.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth road. When I closed “Blue Chips” I was $60,000 dollars in debt and I was left to figure it out on my own. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, I got busy making jewelry. I would sell at pop-up events and in 2006 launched my own traveling market place called, “Mamacita’s Market”. Mamacita’s Market was much like many of the pop-up markets that you see today. I brought together “up and coming” artists, designers, artisans, and musicians.

After three years of supporting other artists and FINALLY being out of debt. I decided it was time for me to focus my time and energy completely on Karlita Designs. I want to elevate my brand and style. I found mentors to guide me along the way. This journey made me realize that I need to surround myself with people that lifted me up, both personally and professionally. I fully commited myself to see the full potential of Karlita Designs.

During this time I also focused on my own healing and concentrated on what brought me joy. Instead of making jewelry to get out of debt, I was finally making jewelry that inspired me and aligned with my vision of jewelry for healing. I started infusing healing energy into my pieces and making custom pieces based on what my clients needed energetically. There was a real shift and that is when my entire collection really grew into what it is today.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Karlita Designs is about empowering the wearer. I use the properties of the crystals and gemstones to evoke healing in my pieces. I pick every stone out myself, clean them in the light of the full moon, and infuse them with healing energy.

My clients can come to me or our store, Kaleidoscope Kollective. I tell them to let the pieces call them, or go to check out my website and/or Instagram to look for the stone or piece that fits their need. I also create pieces for the specific needs of my clients.

I think that is what sets Karlita Designs apart from other companies, is my connection to my clients. They come to me looking to be empowered and share with me their specific needs like, when protective energy, help with anxiety, are dealing with grief, in need of creativity, are needing to let go and move on, or something soothe their heart and mind. It brings me the most joy is to know that my pieces don’t just may people feel pretty or sexy, that my pieces bring the wearer peace, strength, or confidence. I love it when clients keep coming back because they love how my pieces make them feel.

What were you like growing up?
When I grew up in Flint, Michigan which has its own reputation for major financial crises impacting unemployment levels, poverty level, and crime rate. It was interesting growing up there and there was a thriving art and music scene. I find areas like Flint, Michigan foster resiliency and creativity in the arts and music in people. My childhood and teenage years were interesting because I am bi-racial and there weren’t a lot of bi-racial people growing up where I lived. My father was from an immigrant from Acapulco, Mexico and we spent our summers with family in Mexico. This really opened my eyes to the vibrance of my culture, the connection to my ancestors and the traditions of my family. It was the complete juxtaposition of my life in the U.S. My parents are/were (my father passed away) instilled a deep love of nature and fostered my connection to Mother Earth.

Growing up, I have always been fearless, annoyingly optimistic and a dreamer. I love being active, I need to be outdoors that is my temple and where I find my inspiration, my peace.

Pricing:

  • The everyday crystal and jewelry collection range from $20 to 120 dollars
  • The swoon collection ranges from $120-$600 dollars
  • The stars and moon luxury collection ranges from $600 to 1800 dollars

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Grace Oh, Pablo Aguilar, Arnold Velasco

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