Kristin Cavallari came of age in reality TV. She made her debut on MTV as Lauren Conrad’s nemesis on “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County,” then graduated to “The Hills” with the rest of the photogenic flaxen-haired crew. Enduring the shows’ drama helped not only to open doors to the fashion industry but also to figure out a way to handle the pressure of being her own boss.
In addition to designing a shoe line with Chinese Laundry — a deal she recently renewed for another five years — she’s relaunching Emerald Duv by Kristin Cavallari, the jewelry line she introduced with Chelsea Bulte last October. As if life couldn’t be scripted any better, she met Bulte during her reality TV days through ex-boyfriend Brody Jenner. Plus, Bulte and Cavallari pay tribute to their West Coast roots, offering styles such as the Laguna earrings with dual geometric bars and crystal accents and the sexy Calabasas necklace.
Now, at 29, Cavallari splits her time between Nashville and Chicago, where her husband, Jay Cutler, is the quarterback for the Bears. Even after publishing a book titled “Balancing in Heels” last month, she had plenty to discuss with WWD regarding revamping Emerald Duv, eyeing an expansion into handbags and mixing style and practicality as a mother of three.
WWD: You grew up in the public eye, first appearing on MTV, then marrying and starting a family of five with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. How has that affected the way you dress and design your accessories for Emerald Duv and Chinese Laundry?
Kristin Cavallari: I don’t know that becoming a wife and mother has really affected my style. I still wear the things I love to wear. Luckily, with jewelry and children, I’m all about simplicity. You have to be with kids. Otherwise you’d get earrings ripped out or necklaces broken. Since becoming a mom, I’ve worn more flats. It’s more practical. I still have my favorite heels and booties and stuff. I just don’t do it as often as I used to.
WWD: Why did you decide to relaunch Emerald Duv?
K.C.: We were having the jewelry made in Bali mostly before. We were really never happy with the samples of the jewelry that came in. We wanted to find someone who could give us better quality and reflected our style. Now we are passionate about all our pieces that are coming out. The quality is important to us.
WWD: Was it easy to find a manufacturer in L.A.?
K.C.: It definitely took a while. From the get-go we wanted to make our jewelry in L.A. but we couldn’t find one. The goal was to have everything made in L.A.
WWD: Why adopt the new strategy of selling only on your Web site?
K.C.: It’s good because it cuts out the middle man. It’s good for two reasons. We can lower the prices. The other reason is then people know exactly where to find it. If they see me wear it and want to wear it right away, then they can order it.
WWD: Do you have a favorite piece from your jewelry line?
K.C.: The Calabasas necklace is one of my favorites. It’s a great layering piece. We have ear jackets that are pretty trendy. I just think they’re great and can be worn every day. There is a ring but it looks like two. It’s a ring I wear everyday. It’s the Los Angeles ring. It’s reversible. It can be worn two different ways. It’s very simple. You can wear it with all your jewelry in your closet.
WWD: How would you describe the design motif for your jewelry? Do you want it to be trendy? Or is it more important for it to be simple?
K.C.: We do have trendy pieces. We pay attention to the trends. We have a gold choker right now. We also want the pieces to be minimalistic and simple enough so you can mix and match with everything in your closet. Everything is layerable and stackable.
WWD: What was the rationale behind pricing Emerald Duv and the lower-end sister brand, Duv Luv?
K.C.: We wanted everything to be affordable. I want my whole brand to be affordable — everything I do. You don’t have to spend $900 on a pair of Louboutins to look great. Or spend $2,400 on Anita Ko. We’re still tweaking some of the prices. We’re seeing what works. That’s why we wanted to have the lower-priced line, too. A hundred dollars for a pair of earrings is still expensive for some people. The quality for Emerald Duv is better than Duv Luv because of the prices.
WWD: How does Emerald Duv fit into the goals of expanding your business and building your brand?
K.C.: That’s the thing — I want fashion to be accessible and affordable for everybody. Everything I put my name on I have to believe in and love and get behind. I’m offered a lot of things. Once I became a mom, they’re a priority and I have to love everything to come on board.
WWD: Are there other categories you’re considering offering in the future?
K.C.: Yes. Handbags, I think, would be a lot of fun. Honestly, right now I don’t have the time to take on apparel. I would love to do a cookbook. My book “Balancing in Heels” was such a joy to write. I think a cookbook would be a lot of fun.
WWD: Are you a big cook?
K.C.: I do cook. I cook every night.
WWD: What do you make that is a hit with your kids?
K.C.: It’s my peanut-butter chicken. The recipe is in my book. My mom made it for my brother and me growing up. You make this and the kids devour it. It’s a peanut marinade and I do it with chicken tenders. I bake it in the oven.
WWD: What are your style tips for women balancing family, careers, style and budget?
K.C.: I would say pick one or two trends that you absolutely love and incorporate those somehow. Lace-up sandals are a way for a mom to feel good, look chic and be practical for running around.
WWD: Which spring trends do you like?
K.C.: The color papaya-orange is such a trendy color this spring. I absolutely love that color. It looks great on everybody, especially with a tan.
WWD: Did you ever have an idea that you, Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port from “The Hills” would all have your own fashion and accessories lines?
K.C.: No, not when I was 18 when everything first happened. No, it’s pretty cool. I always dreamed of having a shoe line; I didn’t think it was a realistic goal.
WWD: Why not?
K.C.: Just because I was a kid. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t think being on “Laguna Beach” was a big enough door for me to get to be in the fashion world. I just kept going.