Jenna Kingma is the founder and designer of an uber-hip yet glamorous jewelry line called Jenna Michelle Jewelry. On Tour Group, Jenna embarks on the journey of a lifetime traveling the world while hoping to reconnect emotionally with her twin sister.
I have a soft spot for Jenna and her sister because family is numero uno with me. (Hold on. I have to think about this for a moment because you know, "V" is #1... struggling here. Okay, got it. "V" is the #1 'thing' and family is the #1 'not-thing.')
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jenna is making some incredible jewelry pieces that are hard to stop looking at. The diverse line seeks to empower and inspire with necklaces such as "Be Fearless," "Be Bold," and "Be You". They're made of mixed metals, gold, brass, silver, intricate beads from Japan, Swarovski crystals and vintage chains. Each piece is designed by Jenna herself and handcrafted in my favorite city of all time - NYC.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, my interview with Jenna Kingma!
You're starring in Bravo's docu-series Tour Group which premiered March 1st alongside your fraternal twin sister, and trying to change your relationship. What's that all about?
Tour Group is unlike any other show on television right now. It magnifies what it is like to travel with eleven strangers while being out of your comfort zone in exotic places around the world. Each traveler has his or her own emotional journey throughout the cultural experiences.
What was the craziest thing that happened on Tour Group?
I went on a five mile run with three Maasai warriors. To be able to go running with these iconic runners was a dream I never thought would come true. As a three time All-American in Track & Field and Cross Country it meant a lot to me.
How do you pack for a trip like this, since you didn't know where you were going?
I started off with three large suitcases and dwindled it down to one medium suitcase. I packed my essentials: shorts, tank tops, black spandex, and sneakers with a ton of my jewelry from my line Jenna Michelle. I knew the pieces would stand out and complete any of my outfits.
You moved from your native California to New York. So glad you saw the light. Why'd you choose NYC to make a career out of jewelry?
Like Frank Sinatra said, "If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere." People from all over the world come to succeed in New York. I wanted to turn my love and passion for making jewelry into my career, and New York City is the best place to do that. It is a very special city for me; its electrifying energy motivates and inspires me. At the same time, it can be extremely hard and it might overwhelm some people. Only the strong survive the Big Apple. I do have to admit; sometimes I need a break from the hustle and bustle so I head back to the West Coast. The calming of the ocean, running in the mountains clears my brain and enables my creative side to be free. My soul needs the juxtaposition of both coasts.
How do you have time for your jewelry if you're hopping all over the world?
I have always done it on my free time. Tour Group was only a six-week trip. I am mostly in New York making my jewelry and constantly going to the diamond district for supplies and production. My jewelry is all custom made, so it takes time.
What's more complicated: Having a twin sister or panhandling your jewelry on the streets of NYC?
Selling jewelry on the streets of SoHo was challenging and thrilling at the same time. It was exciting and I looked forward to meeting all the new people from all over the world. For me, the most rewarding accomplishment is to have someone love a piece of jewelry I made with my heart and soul.
Who's your favorite shoe designer?
Guiseppe Zanotti for when I want to feel pretty and Asics Nimbus shoes for my seven mile runs everyday.
Misty and I are sisters and we are both human, we can be stubborn and extremely emotional at times. We get on each other nerves but at the end of the day she is my twin sister. She will always be there for me. That is a great feeling and strong connection to have with another person.
Think back to elementary school. What's the greatest school memory from those years?
I fondly remember making my first bracelet in sixth grade. I sewed ribbon and rhinestones onto a cloth band and attached some Velcro with a hot glue gun. I rocked that bracelet with pride everyday. You can say that was the start of my love for jewelry design.
How come you're not wearing jewelry on your main picture of your website?
I am wearing my 'Be Fearless' necklace on the front page of my website. I don't need to oversell it, my jewelry speaks for itself.
I possibly know 1,400 women and men who would like to date you. Which # do you want to meet first? Why'd you pick that number and what gender are they?
I'd like to meet all 1,400 people, not to date. I'm a people person and it would be interesting to talk to that many people. My friends that know me well know that I can make friends with strangers. I love people. I love getting to know them; everyone has an interesting story and its great hearing everyone's journey.
You're an active volunteer with Toys For Tots and in the gay community with Pride Agenda's 'Hamptons Tea Dance.' How did you get involved with these projects and why?
All of my closest friends and many of my family members are gay. I have always strongly supported the LGBT community. When I moved to New York, I met my friend Matthew Hone while working at Christian Dior. He introduced me to his wonderful group of friends that I'm still friends with to this day. Since then, I have donated each year to Toys for Tots and have attended the Hampton's Tea Dance each summer.
Anything else you'd like to say? Where can fans find you and your jewelry line? s
If you visit my website Jennamichelle.com everyone can check out all the new pieces that were inspired by New York City and traveling around the world. The trip allowed me to reconnect with myself, to find my voice. It also gave me an opportunity to start this new exciting direction for my life and follow my passion. I have never been happier. I look forward to making Jenna Michelle Jewelry a global brand.