Jalpa Pandit, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, has always had a “thing” for jewelry as far back as she can remember, having grown up with a mom who relished beautiful pieces. So, it’s no surprise that Pandit became a Certified Gemologist and Jewelry Designer working for big names like David Yurman. But when she became a mom, Jalpa realized it was the right time to turn a side hustle of designing pieces into a business. Now her namesake Jalpa Pandit Jewelry brings together all her worlds—her custom and repurposed pieces she does for clients, a new retail line, and the chance to be home for her son, Ryan. We caught up with this Weehawken mom to talk about her love of jewelry, how she pivoted her business in the pandemic, and the Hudson County coffee spot where you can find an iced lavender oat latte and a favorite book.
featured image via Serving Up Social
Please tell us about your career background and how it influenced your work.
I’m only half-joking when I say that my mother might have been brainwashing me into being a jeweler so she could have someone on the inside. She was an optometrist and she always purchased beautiful pieces of jewelry with her savings. Because of this, jewelry held a certain mystique for me and I’ve known since I was 11 or 12 that I wanted to work in this field. When I was old enough I studied design at the GIA in Carlsbad before moving to New York City for my career. I worked at David Yurman and other well-known jewelry companies in a variety of different roles. When Ryan was born, I realized I wanted the best of both worlds, to be home with my child, and continue to fulfill my dreams. I knew how fortunate I was to work in an industry where I could make a path of my own. Though designing pieces was always a side passion project, I decided to give it 100%, open my business and just go for it.
You do a lot of work helping clients turn pieces they’ve inherited into something they love. Tell us about this part of your work.
Many clients have pieces that hold great sentimental value but are not their style so we work together to create something that they’ll cherish and actually wear. Often, there’s an emotional or loving story behind a piece that’s being repurposed, and it makes me appreciate the work I do for clients that much more. One woman brought me a beautiful strand of pearls and a photo of her grandmother wearing those pearls. She wanted me to design pieces for several of her family members so that this family heirloom could live on and get much more use. I’m very fortunate that I get to be a part of so many celebrations and milestones for many people.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
During the lockdown, people were struggling with losing family members and friends and not seeing their loved ones. I noticed a shift where jewelry took on more meaning than just being a luxury item and it made people feel better to be able to wear something with sentimental value. I designed a retail line for my website with birthstones, engravings, and initials to help people feel connected. I’d always known jewelry to be more of a want than a need, but I think the pandemic made people more sentimental about their choices. My retail line’s best-sellers are the engravable discs and mommy and me pieces.
What do you hope Ryan learns from watching your run your business?
I want him to always respect women and know that they have an equal seat at the table. There should be no reason for there to be any difference in what women can achieve.
What are some of your favorite local businesses?
The Co-Co, a co-working community, is my happy place. I love the positive energy there and have met some of the most incredible women who live to promote and push each other onward and upward. Their virtual coffee chats have kept me sane throughout the pandemic. When I need something sweet, I go to Boomerang Bites which has the most wonderful chocolate and my favorite go-to gift. And as far as favorites go, I love everything about bwèkafe. It’s simply adorable, attached to a bookstore and has an incredible iced lavender oat latte.
What are some of your NJ family favorites?
Ryan is artistically inclined, so one thing we love to do is to head to Grounds for Sculpture and talk about the art. We recently bought bikes are enjoying being active together. A favorite trail of ours is cycling from Weehawken to Liberty State Park. It’s along the Hudson River and has great views of Manhattan. And this might seem a little unusual to some people, but we get a kick out of ordering local takeout, and instead of eating it at home, we’ll open up the back of our car and sit in the trunk eating it. It turns something uneventful into a fun activity.
What’s the best piece of advice you can pass on to an NJMOMpreneur thinking of taking the leap to start her own business?
This quote from Andre Gide—man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore—has always inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone. As women, we work so hard for our families, our children, and our jobs, so the best piece of advice I can offer is to step out what you are familiar with and work just as hard for yourself as you do for everyone and everything else. Just go for it—you never know.