Jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann and her daughters, Laura and Danielle, founders of The New Potato, a food and lifestyle blog, love good food and good jewelry. They have the type of relationship that many mothers and daughters aspire to have: a strong friendship that is made stronger by their common interests and mutual respect for one another. On the occasion of Mother’s Day — and the ladies’ Saturday Shopping feature — we sat down talk to them about family traditions, empowering women, and answer that age old question, is it better to give than to receive?
Q: Monica, your website opens with a photo of two women, one older and one younger, and presumably a mother and daughter. Talk to us about the role of family and womanhood in your work.
I love the idea of a mom and her daughter both wearing pieces from my collection. It should feel like something they always owned and will wear everyday. I also want to create jewelry that empowers women. I want my daughters to wear jewelry that makes them feel good, and gives them confidence. For example, much of my jewelry is themed around carpe diem, which holds a different meaning to each wearer, or a locket where they can hold a secret message or photo of something that is important to them.
Q: One of your guiding design principles is to create a timeless jewelry that can be passed down to your daughters 20 years from now. Tell us about a piece of jewelry that was passed down to you by your mother and about any cherished pieces that you have passed down to your daughters.
My mom always had such interesting jewelry: her brother was a major world traveler and would always bring his sisters amazing jewelry from around the world. She gave me a gold necklace he had brought her back from Peru.
My mom also always wore a charm bracelet that held charms from her life and her travels. Both of my daughters as well as myself have started our own bracelets and we all now wear them almost everyday. I love that these charm bracelets have become our modern day heirlooms that we will all pass down.
Q: Lockets play a large role in your collection. Why is this piece so important to you? Who do you have a photo of in your locket?
I’ve always thought that lockets are sexy and such a conversation piece. They tell your story by what they hold and are very private, unless you choose to share what’s inside. If you look at paintings from the past, there’s so many women holding their lockets and they always looked very mischievous, like they were holding onto something that no one else knew about. My own locket holds a photo of my girls and my dog.
Q: For someone who designs jewelry, is it better to give it or receive it?
This is a difficult question for a jewelry designer, but honestly I become so immersed in my clients’ stories that I love the giving part. It is very satisfying when my clients acquire my jewelry for special occasions in their lives. That being said (and in case my husband reads this) I do love receiving jewelry as well!
Switching over to Danielle & Laura.
Q: What’s the best piece of business advice that your mother has given you?
Just do it! She always encouraged us to just go for it and take risks. It’s the best advice we’ve ever received – even if she did borrow it from Nike.
Q: If you could have dinner with any other famous mother/ daughter team, who would it be? And, a la TNP, what would you cook?
Jane Birkin, Lou Dillon and Charlotte Gainsbourg. We’d make roast chicken with roasted potatoes and vegetables, and drink lots of red wine.
Q: Your mom has already told us about the jewelry that she has given you. But I believe that great recipes, like great jewelry, should be passed down from generation to generation. Can you tell me about a recipe that was passed down to you.
Our maternal grandmother taught us both her recipe for Wienerschnitzel at an early age (she’s very Austrian) and we will definitely teach it to our kids. It’s a big part of our heritage!
Q: Danielle, I noticed that on TNP you have taken most of the photos yourself. Did you get your love of photography from your mom?
Yes! I shoot every single subject for TNP and absolutely got it from her. She still teaches me a ton and I always send her photos and ask her questions about what she likes and doesn’t like. Her opinion is definitely the watchword for me. I think my sister and I both are really lucky in that we inherited our mom’s “eye.”
Interview by Bella Neyman. Neyman is a New York based gallery director, curator, and journalist.