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Adornments for the Modern Warrior Woman by ACB

Small, but mighty is how I would describe Annie and her thriving jewelry business. On yet another perfectly sunny LA afternoon, I found myself leisurely snaking up the hills of Mt. Washington, taken by a stretch of breathtaking views of East LA. Nestled towards the top of it all is Annie’s sunlit home that doubles as her studio and incubator of beautiful things. Since I first laid eyes on her pieces, I was instantly enchanted. There’s a sophisticated tribal quality about them that projects strength and poise. They are those rare pieces that can transform a woman the moment it touches her skin, like artful armor.

Once a painter, Annie draws on her art background and her Cali roots to create fresh pieces women around the world now cherish. Here’s what she had to say about it all.

 

The majestic view of Mount Washington from Annie’s front yard.
Jewelry designed by Annie Costello Brown.
Blue geometric earrings hang in a wooden frame.

Can you tell me about the first piece you ever made as ACB?

In the early 2000s, I was working as a production manager with Billykirk in Downtown LA where we all lived. I learned all about working with leather — making dyes, using clicker press, a lot of hand stitching. After they relocated to New York, I started ACB in Downtown LA. As a result, my first piece was a necklace that incorporated black leather with blackened chain, hand-stitching and old stones, and beads. The aesthetic was dark and tough, and bold expressive statement jewelry was really coming back into style after a long hiatus from fashion.

 

(It’s) more about celebrating beauty
than trying to be cool.

How do you feel you and your work have evolved since making that first piece?

A few seasons ago, the business got too busy for me to handle without me literally getting sick. It was hard for me to see how to scale up because my pieces were so art-studio based. I couldn’t hand off my designs to a factory; all the pieces were made in the ACB studio by (very talented) people. We were using patinas, doing hand-stitching, complicated beading, etc. so I had to leave my showroom, and we downsized. Now I follow my own schedule.

What I’m doing is more related to my artwork than to fashion. Though it’s all related, of course. I don’t look at as much fashion now; I pay more attention to my inner world of forms and aesthetics. I’m seeking uniqueness, beauty, balanced compositions, thoughtfulness. Sometimes my goal is to make a classic — a design that will stand the test of time. Overall, the result is a lighter, easier feel. Less tough, more about celebrating beauty than trying to be cool.

 

Earrings on model.
Closeup of Annie's hands as she works on a piece of jewelry.

Can you describe your creative process?

I get my best ideas while in the act of making something, when my hands are moving. It’s an organic process, not forced. I don’t really do “collections” anymore. I may go back to that someday though.

 

Annie Costello Brown's vision board.

Who are your biggest role models?

Uncompromising artists. I wish I could be one of those.

My favorite place in the world is:

California central coast

I’m dying to visit:

North Africa

When I’m not designing, you’ll find me:

Painting

One rule I live by is:

No rules

 

Annie working in her studio.