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Inside Steven Alan

A Visit with Mociun

  • June 22nd, 2012 | New Arrivals

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    We first met Caitlin Mociun several years ago when she arrived in New York as a RISD grad. At the time, we carried her clothing, but Caitlin has since shifted her focus to jewelry design. We recently visited her at her new apartment near the Brooklyn Navy Yard and chatted with her.

    You grew up all over – California, Asia, Europe. What was that like?
    I was born in California and moved to Malaysia when I was 12, then Prague when I was 16, before coming back to the United States for college. I didn’t like it at the time because I was an angsty teenager but now I really appreciate it because I got to see so much. I am really thankful and don’t think I understood at the time the breadth of what I got to see. My parents have always been into traveling and every vacation we got to go to a different place – Nepal, Australia, Bali, Laos, Thailand, Borneo, Italy, Tunisia . . .  they taught me how to scuba dive and I feel like they really enriched me. I think it’s a really good thing to do for a kid. I don’t like traveling alone – it didn’t make me more adventurous in that way – but it made everything feel smaller, in a good way. It made traveling seem like a fun, good thing to do.

    {A mix of her own designs as well as some favorites by other designers}

    When I lived in Malaysia I was always with my parents and if they went away for a weekend, I went with them, but when I was in Prague I was older I could just go hang out with my friends, doing what any normal teenager does.  I wasn’t a bad kid so it wasn’t like I went crazy. Prague was a cool place because it’s pretty safe. It’s so different now than when I was there. It was so inexpensive. The fanciest restaurant would be like $25 for a crazy meal. I loved to go out, and there was a lot of art stuff going on there. There was a place I remember that was a bar and restaurant that also had a movie room. You could pick any movie (they had a lot of weird ones) and just hang out. That was fun. Taxis were cheap so it was easy to get around and pretend you didn’t have any parents. When I got to college I wasn’t going crazy because I’d sort of already seen it. College was more about doing something that I really cared about and focusing on that. RISD definitely let me tailor my education.

    If you could pack your bags right now and go somewhere you haven’t been, where would you go?
    I’ve never been to South America. I know I want to go to Brazil and Argentina.  I would want to go to Brazil for a couple of months. It’s such a huge place and there’s so much to do and see – I’d want to go to a lot of towns. I want to go to Japan and India someday too.

    Do you see yourself staying put in New York?
    Definitely.  I really don’t know where else I’d want to live. I think ideally I’d like to live between two places, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. Now that I have the store I’m considering opening a second location somewhere else in a year or two and want to figure out someplace that’s warm to do that. LA makes the most sense but that commute is pretty intense. It would probably be exhausting to fly back and forth every month. I was just down in New Orleans and really like the South, so I was thinking about if I should do it in New Orleans. I have friends there and it’s really fun. I really want to be by the water.


    How did you transition into jewelry design?
    Initially I just added jewelry to the clothing line and it just got a much better response. And I  liked it more. The clothing thing kind of happened by accident. I never planned on having a clothing line. I got fired from a job that I hated – I was a technical wovens designer. I had always made clothes and printed fabric, and the week I got fired it was picked up by Steven Alan and Bird. Steven found me when I was 23 and the buyer had to contact me through MySpace because I didn’t even have a website. People responded to the clothing line but I wasn’t having that great of a time doing it. Six years in, I still didn’t like doing it. Jewelry was something that I loved doing. I can really design what I like and what I would want, and luckily my customer likes it. It just feels a little bit more universal.

    I can also be more creative and when something goes wrong during production – like if a shape is wrong – it’s not like you just throw it away. We just take the stones out and melt the gold down and change the piece. And it doesn’t go out of style. It’s nice to make stuff that you know people will have for a long time. And if they don’t like it it makes more sense to make something else out of it. I do that for a lot of people now. I’ve been redoing engagement rings lately, or for people who aren’t married anymore. We can change them. There was a woman whose ring I did recently who didn’t like the design of a ring but it had a beautiful emerald stone so we redid it. With the jewelry I can do lots of little custom pieces for people and I’m not restricted by as much. With clothing you have to have enough volume to make it affordable for production and with jewelry you don’t – at least not on the scale of my work. I mean if I made 500 of everything at once the price would go down a little bit but it’s not like clothing. The price for sample yardage is one thing and the price for production yardage is so much cheaper. But no one is going to give you a good deal on gold because no one will sell it for below its value. You just can’t haggle. With gemstones you can a little – like the color, the cut, the quality – all the other little things, but gold is what it is.

    Do you have a favorite material or stone you like to work with?
    Turquoise is a favorite – there’s a lot of turquoise. And I like diamonds a lot. Diamonds I think are cool because I do use other colors. I have a jeweler that’s been doing this for so long. It’s a family and I love them. They’re really great to work with and they take really good care of me, and they’re also teaching me a lot more. There’s so much that goes into it. I really like learning about this very old-world industry.  I’m doing bigger engagement rings now and starting to source the stones for people. I’m getting more into sapphires. I would say the stones I use the most are turquoise, diamonds, and sapphires.

    Your home is lovely and you have some really unique objects. How did you go about decorating?
    I find these little things I like that I’ve picked up from all over. Lately I’ve just wanted to get rid of everything and keep just a few things out.  I think each thing stands out more that way. I’ll switch out a few items every now and then to change it up. You haven’t seen the front closet – that’s where I keep the mess.

    Is there another category beyond jewelry you’re interested in branching into?
    I’m working with a friend who has a furniture and lighting company and we did our first piece – a nightstand. They did the base and I did this plaster top. I’m not going to suddenly become a furniture designer but I am interested in home. I’ll do some more pillows. I’m interested in doing design that has a little more longevity. Obviously furniture does go out of style, but clothing is just so fast and I always felt like just when I was starting to go forward with a concept it was like, “Okay we have to show it in two weeks.” I would only do two collections a year, but there are people who do seven. I love clothes but I’m doing my best now to approach clothing a little more like jewelry and get things that I’ll wear for longer. Just thinking about buying better quality clothes but buying less.

    {Caitlin’s nightstand – a table she designed}

    What are your favorite things to do in New York in the summertime?
    I have a car so I like to get out a little. In the summer I like to go to the beach as much as I possibly can. I went to Lido beach a couple of days ago. I also go to Fort Tilden, but there’s a lot of trash there now. I really like the summer. I like the access to museums, art shows, film festivals. I don’t always get to go to them, but I like that they’re accessible. If you want to do something, you can go find it. There’s rarely a night where there’s nothing going on. That’s my favorite thing about New York. There are always places to discover or stumble upon for the first time, whether it’s a restaurant or store or neighborhood that’s been there forever. If you’re the kind of person who wants to explore, you can really find that here.

    Thanks to Caitlin for having us over! You can check out some of her pieces in our stores.

    - Photos by Chad Davis

    This entry was posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2012 at 7:08 pm and is filed under New Arrivals. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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