What does it take to get a fashion business off the ground? One that’s aiming to top all its competition? Most would agree it’s guts, innovation, and someone who’s not afraid to carve out their own path. And though jewelry designer Shelley Gibbs Sanders is the first to admit she didn’t expect she’d create a game-changing jewelry business of her own, that’s exactly the case.
In less than a six months since The Last Line’s launch, Sanders’s pieces have become go-tos for celebrities like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba, and a slew of It girls both in Los Angeles (where she’s based) and New York. But perhaps the success of this playful fine jewelry brand isn’t just testament to great endorsements and the irresistible appeal of sparkle; it’s a testament to a Sanders.
“I have always been creative, but truthfully I didn’t understand the capacity of how I could get into jewelry and how much I would enjoy it when I was young,” she told us about the start of her obsession. “As a little girl, I was always attracted to jewelry and not just the glamorous side of it, but actually the intricacies of a piece—the shape, the design, the metals and of course, the stones. I collected coins and was always doodling shapes and designs, at that time I had no idea I could and would make a future career of this.”
Aside from a stint in the Big Apple to study at the Parson School of Design, Sanders has mostly remained on the West Coast. She trained with Master Jewelers in San Francisco and eventually went on to work with celebrity clients and behind the scenes of other household jewelry lines, she tells us. “I remember the first time I saw a piece I designed in a magazine (it was Harper’s Bazaar) and thinking to myself this is it.”
But it’s safe to assume that even that experience can’t top the debut of The Last Line this past summer, a brand that’s, in a way, taking its time to make a major splash. First it launched with earrings only, and a promise of a steady roll out of necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. in the months ahead. It’s a process that Sanders told us allows the brand to get it right, make every piece as perfect as possible, and work toward its goal of becoming the last jewelry line you ever buy from.
“For me, launching The Last Line quickly became much more than just designing, it meant managing a business, which is a challenge in its own right. A friend once told me it’s a marathon, not a sprint. That’s difficult for me. I’m a sprinter, I’m creative, but people can only digest so much at once, so I have to slow down, parse it out, and keep it exciting for everyone, myself included.”
Thankfully keeping it exciting is something Sanders seems to excel at, be it regularly sharing Instagram videos of her decorating her own ears—one alone has nine piercings—with her designs, or creating cool concept shoots to debut new collections. Specifically this week marked the arrival of the Tennis Collection, featuring clear and colorful stones in delicate, eye-catching styles. In true The Last Line style, it’s also presented in a tongue-in-chief court-side lookbook. It’s this kind of clever, elevated yet relatable, attitude that’s setting Sanders apart.
“A lot of people told me before launching The Last Line ‘Do what you want and never look back,’ but I think it’s really important to look back, that’s how you learn,” says the entrepreneur of the worst career advice she didn’t listen to. “I’m constantly checking in on what I did, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. it’s such an important learning for growth, personally and professionally. Equally important is to establish (and believe) a clear vision of what you are setting out to do.”
The Last Line may still be young, but clear vision is not something it lacks, due entirely to Sanders who says that starting a business has taught her to be direct and trust her instincts. “I have made a rule that I will only ever produce things that I am happy to present and wear myself. If I don’t believe in it, why would someone else?”
Scroll down to take a look at Sander’s latest debut for The Last Line.
Up next, meet the NYC trendsetter who’s master her professional wardrobe in the most creative way.