I am a boutique jewelry design company. One of the luxuries this affords me is the ability to cultivate a relationship with my patrons, making each one an ambassador of my brand. Over the years I have refined a sixth sense about those who enter my realm, and can immediately sense who will connect with my jewelry. There is an implicit alignment between their values and my own. The minute I lay eyes on them, I instinctively know who is a ZADEH man or woman.
My patrons have an appreciation for that which is both unconventional and extraordinary, bringing them together in alluring environments around the world. Tennis matches, equestrian competitions, unusual resort destinations, golf tournaments…all places that beguile ZADEH ambassadors.
I’ve heard countless stories of my ambassadors who have met serendipitously in the most far flung destinations. When they meet they quickly recognize their common link: ZADEH. Me! Their jewelry is the signal, their “mot de passe,” or password. They notice each other’s bracelets or pendant and with a smile, say: “do you know Catherine?” Then I receive a photo of my newly introduced ambassadors, showing off their ZADEH pieces. It warms my heart.
Each of these people are connected to me, separated by a degree or two, rarely more. Whether we meet on vacation, at a restaurant, sunbathing on a fabulous beach on a far away island, it’s usually my stack of bracelets that first catches their eye. From there, our bond quickly sets aflame.
During my winters in Wellington, the ZADEH pop-up shop is situated right at the entrance to the bustling International Arena. It’s an excellent location for people watching, and I get to know certain personalities simply from watching them pass by my booth.
One of those I immediately took notice of was Mary Tyree. I was touched by Mary’s effortless yet impeccable sartorial style. I loved her short layered hair, her androgynous style, her elegance. She shared my appreciation for crisp white shirts, timeless jewelry and classic accessories. Mary walks with purpose, regal in her gait. She had a certain flair, a radiating confidence that was impossible to ignore. She was (and is) one of the most stylish women at the horse show.
Sadly, Mary didn’t stop by my booth until a mutual friend and luminous ZADEH ambassador, Kathryn Gilbertson, introduced us at the end of my second year in Wellington. We had dinner at Ollie’s – one of my favorite Wellington spots – and I listened to Mary and the other two women have a lively discussion about the business of horses. Mary was deliberate and assertive in the conversation and I was drawn to her demeanor: confident, calm and respectful. Unfortunately my lack of equine knowledge kept us from engaging in more depth that night.
Shortly thereafter, Mary did stop by and quietly perused my collections. I was thrilled, as I could tell the ZADEH seed had been planted in her mind. Several months later Mary walked into my booth at the Hampton Classic, and I could tell she was on a mission. Her jovial mood was contagious as she eagerly tried on a few pieces. We clicked immediately and chatted with a refreshing candor. I professed my admiration for her style and confusion as to why she hadn’t yet been captivated by ZADEH. She explained that her daughter Catherine had fallen while riding and severely hurt herself, the suffering compounded by the tragic loss of her equine partner at that same show. Shopping was the last thing on Mary’s mind.
I saw a private side of her that day, a gentle soul, generous in spirit, kind, and very gracious. She patiently listened to my advice and my recommendations and narrowed her choices to three pieces. The Jane in Zebra wood was her favorite, of course! Funnily enough, the Jane was featured in Harper’s BAZAAR that same week. Paired with the Blake pendant in white gold and the dainty Porte Bonheur piece, Mary was the perfect embodiment of a ZADEH girl.
The next day, she casually professed: “the look just isn’t complete without the Buffalo Horn bracelet, don’t you think?” I loved that! She walked out of my booth, and wore my pieces for the rest of the show week with happiness and pride.
A month later, I ran into Mary at Old Salem and guess what? She was still decked out in my jewelry. Once a ZADEH girl, always a ZADEH girl.
The relationship between my ambassadors and I is symbiotic. They inspire me to better myself as a designer. They nourish me with their spirit and support my vision. They place their trust in me and I couldn’t do this without them.
Gina Sanders is another of my most cherished ambassadors and friends. Gina is a force to be reckoned with, in every conceivable way. She is the current President of Conde Nast Global Development, a behemoth in the media world with a plethora of top magazines under their direction – Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, GQ, and The New Yorker, to name a few. She has worked tirelessly to cultivate new opportunities for these publications to evolve and establish new prolific partnerships; not an easy feat.
I so adore Gina’s pragmatism and balanced sensibilities. She is the woman who competes in the equestrian world by day, smattered with dust and horse slobber, and by night be the radiant host of a fabulous dinner soirée.
I once read an interview with Gina, where she was asked about the important qualities of a successful CEO. Her response was glorious.
“Curiosity is key because you constantly have to put yourself in positions where there are things that may make you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know. So, that brings in the third thing, which is courage. And, courage isn’t the absence of fear — I’m scared all the time! Courage is living in it and performing with it. That’s what I’ve learned by riding horses, that there’s nothing like having a jump in front of you to focus on. The key is you don’t look at it; you look past it.”
This is what I love about Gina. As a woman and a leader Gina sets such a positive example for those around her with her candor and fortitude. And she does it all while maintaining a timeless, polished appearance. A woman after my own heart.
Both of these women emanate all the traits of a ZADEH girl: smart, accomplished, sophisticated, effortlessly stylish and beautiful inside and out. Who better way than these women to represent my brand. They make me proud and are my best advocates. They wear their ZADEH pieces always, never taking them off, radiating happiness while adorned them.