Anna Sheffield on Target, the Evil Eye, and More

anna sheffield
Photo Cheryl Dunn
Designer Anna Sheffield

Anna Sheffield, the designer behind Bing Bang and her eponymous fine jewelry line, is the kind of girl you just want to have drinks with. She’s the cool girl who you hope notices you at a party. But the thing is, she’s pretty darn laid back, making her that much more fun. Yes, it appears we have a slight girl crush on the jewelry designer.

From her Native American-meets-rock’n’roll designs (and now her fancier finer pieces) to her upfront view on just about everything, it’s easy to see why we can’t get enough of her. Sheffield sat down with us to talk about her newer pieces, her Evil Eye collection, and working with Target.

Talk to me about your various collections.

Bing Bang is basically two collections. It’s women’s and men’s offerings, so I have a classic, core collection that’s very signature. It’s cute, a little bit tough, a little bit sweet.

It introduces someone to the brand.

Yeah. And it’s also a little bit more mass. There’s only so much market share for costume jewelry, and I’ve always been the haute costume jeweler, the little bit more designy versus Forever 21. There’s more craftsmanship and design involved in it so that’s part of what makes it more expensive. But I’ve always wanted to find a way to do what I do and make it really attainable.

What’s the theme for the season?

I’ve always been inspired by the Native Americans because I grew up in the Southwest. I did a little mini-capsule for the beginning of summer that was kind of Navajo-Concho inspired. Which is very on-trend right now. But I wanted to take that concept and go a little bit deeper so I’ve been researching all these different methods of metal-smithing in Native American cultures, so I’m looking into doing this more like Dakota, mid-Plains Indians, and Iroquois. I like that idea of my jewelry being cross-cultural because I’m always mixing New York punk rock, Native American, Victorian, all these weird disparate things.

Was the evil eye collection, was that inspired by your trip to Tel Aviv?

Well, definitely inspired by, yeah. I’ve been traveling in the Middle East for a long time. I lived in Saudi Arabia. I’m a little bit of a hobo. I think all jewelry can be seen as an amulet or a talisman and I love that concept, especially if it’s something that you’re going to keep a long time, or you’re going to wear it until it falls off. It’s going to have meaning to you whether it’s personal meaning or some sort of a narrative, how you got the piece of jewelry or if it symbolizes something. So I wanted to do a few pieces that were very amuletlike. And the evil eye is a very good vehicle for that.

It’s rare to find one that I like that’s not gaudy. Which is why I like yours—it’s very subtle.

I wanted it to feel much more spectacular but still spare enough that it feels like it could have come from another era or you could have made it now. Modern versus antique is very important to me.  I like the timelessness. If I can achieve that I feel, I’ve done a really good job.

barneys windows

Photos courtesy of Anna Sheffield

A solitaire ring and evil eye chain bracelet from Anna Sheffield

How would you describe the fine collection and when did it launch?

[After] a few years of doing Bing Bang, I then did Marc Jacobs, which was fine jewelry but it was Bing Bang-style. And then I did fine jewelry for Phillip Lim in Fall ’07 and that was the first collection I did that was separate from Bing Bang. And I was really loving it, working with gold, working with stones, figuring out the whole next level of that process and I just decided that this was my brand. This is my namesake, this is my pet project, this is my love. My most artistic focus. And Bing Bang, not that it’s not my focus, but it has its own DNA at this point. It has its own bones, its own lyrical history.

I’ve always been curious, when you're creating things for different lines within your brands, how do you decide which design goes with which line? Is it very clear cut for you?

It’s like hopscotch [laughs]. I throw the idea out there and then I dance around it a little bit and sometimes I cheat and move it to another square.

Well, that’s one way of putting it!

It’s crazy to have two brands and everyone I know who knows me and knows anything about this business told me I was crazy to have two brands, and to not do it.

But didn’t that make you want to do it more?

Like as per usual. I went running full force in the direction of doing both, adamant that if anyone could do it, I could [laughs].

What’s the response been to your fine jewelry line?

I haven’t pushed it quite the same way as I have Bing Bang, and it’s definitely been quieter—because I developed it little by little. But also it’s funny how things I was doing like eight years ago, people didn’t respond to but then all of a sudden it starts  to make more sense stylistically. Like studs and things like that being hugely important in fashion.

I remember when you did pyramid studs years ago and now they’re everywhere.

I like to think I was at least some part of that! [laughs] It’s been interesting to see how trends have caught up.

anna sheffield
Photo courtesy of Anna Sheffield
The Emma necklace by Anna Sheffield

But you’ve been really well received with big collaborations like Urban Outfitters and Target.

Target was probably the biggest.

How did that come about? Are you doing another one and would you consider doing another one?

Working  with them [Target] was such an amazing opportunity to learn about a big business and still have the design consciousness. They’re very conscientious about how they work as a company, how their employees are treated; design, quality—things like that are usually important to them. It was really amazing to work on a project with them but also to witness how they work on everything as a whole. They’re very team oriented. They’ve got a good strong group and concept, and they’re doing it very well. So working with them was fantastic.

Did that open you up to a broader audience?

It did, but I don’t think that I was quite ready to be the brand that went from that to QVC, you know?

How has the economy affected things for you now?

People want things that last. That drives the point home, too, about making Bing Bang of good quality so even if you’re spending $30 on a pair of little tiny studs, they’re going to last. They’re not going to break in two weeks. But, yeah, I do feel like it’s affected me. It’s also been an amazing opportunity to reflect on what my real goals are and [to] hone my skills and learn more about marketing and branding, learn more about what kind of presence I want to have in the marketplace with retail and online, social media and the importance of social media.

You’re all over social media.

Well, whether you’re a small or a big company, you have to understand that your loyal customer base is your biggest, most amazing, hardest earned, incredible achievement of an asset.