Katty Lau is a young up-and-coming jewelry designer who has stores all over metropolitan New York. The first thing I felt when I sat down with this beautiful, petite Asian woman was how gentle and kind her inner spirit was. She radiated charm and purity while also possessing inner power and strength . . . much like the stones she most loves to work with — diamonds!
She is native to Hong Kong and was raised in Queens. Her art education includes classes at Parsons and F.I.T in New York and much time spent in Paris and Florence. But her education goes well beyond the teachings of any books and what any school could teach. The textures and shapes of stones inspire her. She is drawn to the minimalist style of modernism. All of her inspiration gets channeled out onto the paper in which she sketches out her creations, in the most organic and simple way — by hand. She clearly has the sixth sense that the great artists in their respective fields develop from their own passion for what they love. In Katty’s case, this passion is making the right piece of jewelry for her individual clients.
Like a hair cutter who examines the bone structure of a client’s face before cutting hair or a fitness trainer that has to assess his clients postural imbalances before attempting to improve their body, Katty determines the right fit, design, and quality for her clients according to their every characteristic. As she told me, she likes to also, educate her clients this so they are on the same frequency when determining the best possible look and fit for the jewelry. The customer has to know as much about the product as the people designing it and selling it to make the best possible decision when buying. Most importantly she wants the customer to feel comfortable.
At her chic signature store, Magnolia at 160 Canal Street, she helps her customers find exactly what they are looking for in the most personal way. She stresses that her customer service is second to none and that she will attend to every need and want to whoever comes in. It is a very personalized experience that separates her business from the others. She has a wide variety of products with lower priced items that maintain a great quality. On the other side of the spectrum, she offers pieces for the more refined taste, which of course carry a higher price tag. For example, I asked her about wedding bands. Her wedding bands can be priced at 300 – 400 dollars and go up to 1,000 – 3000 dollars.
There is also immense hidden value in the fact that most of these items aren’t made a second time the same way. When I walked through the store, I asked about certain showcased items. She told me they were the only ones made in that particular way. Many of the pieces in Magnolia are indeed one-of-a-kind. She told me her target customer is the young professional who usually prefers custom designs. Katty believes that despite her commitment to personalizing the jewelry buying experience, she can still be competitive in terms of price.
Her collection could be recently seen on the competitors of the Miss New York Chinese Beauty Pageant whose thirteen finalists appeared at the Mohegan Sun wearing her jewelry. The winner Cynthia Zang received a custom-made diamond pendant of the logo of the competition worth thousands of dollars. Katty was very excited about the competition, the girls, and the viewing of her precious creations being brought to life. She tells me there are many things to consider when choosing the specifics for the female model contestants. The color of their skin, their height, build, and unique beauty traits all play into the creative selection process in which she enjoys.
Katty has definite plans of getting her product out into different stores, which she is doing currently. She tests different locations throughout New York to see where her jewelry would sell. She also is looking to expand through other avenues and platforms to become more visible. I asked Katty if she would has plans to adorn the divas that walk the red carpet or actresses on the big screen in diamonds. She quickly responded “yes.” When I asked her who she thought to be the best fit for her pieces her first answer was Angelina Jolie. She likes her because she is beautiful, powerful, dynamic, and sophisticated – and a perfect mother for her babies. But most importantly she said, “Angelina is strong and knows what she wants.” As for male stars, she sees the handsome Vincent Gallo as a wonderful complement to her pieces.
A day in the life of Katty usually consists of ordering jewelry, managing her store, going to trade shows, corporate work and doing many various mini projects that could include just about anything. Even the design of the furniture in the store bears her vision and artistic touch. She told me that if she weren’t in the jewelry business, she would be in the textile design business. She also told me she admires the work and fashion of the designer Alexander MacQueen. She likes to unwind at restaurants like Sobaya which is a restaurant specializing in Japanese pasta and stresses, it’s all about the food there.” She also loves to eat Italian at Emporio on Mott Street.
Seeing all of her success, I was compelled to ask Katty if she thought she had “made it” yet. She said no. Well, most of the greats aren’t ever satisfied so I understand. That’s what makes them so great. They keep progressing — which Katty Lau is surely doing at a rapid rate. Take one step into her store Magnolia and look at her design and jewelry and see for yourself! Her exceptional talent speaks for itself — she HAS made it!