We had the good fortune of connecting with Niki Grandics and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niki, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
The lockdowns starting in the spring gave me a lot of time to think and to reconnect with the values behind why I started my business back in 2014. It was a sense of activism and wanting to do right by all the stakeholders surrounding my business, from the miners unearthing our gems all the way to our clients. This phrase has lodged itself in my mind since the lockdowns started: love means taking action. To me this means love for the Earth, love for our fellow humans, and love for ourselves. This means taking actions to protect the Earth, supporting responsible mining with Fairmined gold and fair trade gems, and supporting mercury cleanup and elimination projects in our industry (gold mining is the largest source of mercury pollution globally). This means only working with diamond and gemstone vendors who do right by the Earth and mining communities. And this means creating an inclusive space to celebrate the love for each other and ourselves where everyone feels welcome. We also create and share resources for anyone looking to start their responsible jewelry journey.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Enji was founded on modern design, love for the earth, and love for each other. We just became a Fairmined licensee and have committed to creating our next collection in Fairmined gold, which is truly gold to be proud of. It is mined by empowered artisanal miners without the use of toxic chemicals like mercury, and the additional Fairmined premium allows miners to reinvest in their communities. I’m proud of the collection we’re developing (customizable with ethically sourced diamonds and fair trade gemstones) and that as a business we’ve been able to raise over $3 140 for various nonprofits including the Alliance for Hope and Gem Legacy to help support our local and global communities during these times. While the last five months have certainly been their own journey, I founded Enji in 2014 shortly after graduating from SDSU with degrees in applied design and marketing. Being a lifelong lover of fashion, following the Rana Plaza collapse, I began my journey with sustainable and fair fashion, carrying these values over into my jewelry practice. Coming from an immigrant family with no connection to the jewelry industry whatsoever, breaking into such a tight knit industry was definitely a challenge. In 2015 I got a scholarship to attend GIA and further my education in goldsmithing, learning new stone setting techniques, and opening the door to really enter the industry. And thankfully with Ethical Metalsmiths I found my tribe within the industry, a group that shared my views that jewelry can be a force for good in the world and work towards creating a more transparent and compassionate industry. Education around what responsible jewelry and responsible sourcing is has also been a challenge. When most people think of issues in the industry, blood diamonds and Leonardo DiCapri come to mind first. In reality its a lot more complicated than an award winning film or a marketing campaign can convey. Educating the public and sharing all of this knowledge on responsible jewelry and what it means is also a key part of my business.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Galerie LA is definitely my favorite destination for shopping in LA. Dechel curates an amazing selection of sustainable and fair fashion brands, responsibly made jewelry, and vintage homewares. Located at the Row DTLA, I always loved grabbing a bite at the Smorgasburg (they always have so many tasty and creative vegan options) on weekends after visiting Galerie LA.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is such a hard question to narrow down, I consider myself very fortunate for the support I’ve been given along my journey as a designer and business owner. First, I’m giving a shoutout to two organizations that do so much to support their members with mentorship, professional development, responsible sourcing and business practices, and help further social justice and gender equality in the jewelry industry, the Womens Jewelry Association (WJA) and Ethical Metalsmiths. Within both organizations, I would love to give Alexandra Hart an extra shoutout, for her mentorship and leadership, for her relentless enthusiasm for creating a more transparent and compassionate industry, and for opening several doors in the industry for me. I also want to give an extra shoutout to two of my close friends, Caitlin and Lea, for their support and encouragement from the very beginning, through all the highs and lows of running your own business. They were also two of my first clients and we’ve collaborated on a few photoshoots together as well (Lea is a fantastic photographer). Good friends are real treasure.
for headshots: Lea Williams for model shots: Sophia Schrank