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Talking Shop With the Eyewear Designer Who Styled Lizzo

Portrait of A-Morir founder, Kerin Rose Gold

Name: Kerin Rose Gold
My business: A-Morir
Product: Embellished eyewear and accessories
Year founded: 2008
Based in: New York

Why I started my business:

I’ve always been a crystal artist. I’ve been making my own clothing and tricking out my own shit since at least junior high.

I was diagnosed with colitis in the fall of ’99, and I was sick for almost 10 years. When you’re that sick every day, you don’t think to yourself, “I’m going to grow up and be an artist.” You’re just like, “I just need to figure out how to make a living doing something easy.” So, I fell into marketing. I got fired a lot because I wasn’t able to function during the day. And then a drug became available and it actually worked—I went into remission in 2008. 

I spent three months after that trying not to have a post-traumatic stress breakdown. At the last job I was fired from, my boss said, “You’re going to be able to collect unemployment. Take some time off. Work a job that doesn’t matter to you. And then in a year’s time, reevaluate and see where you want to go.” Without that advice, I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion on my own. 

Vogue Italia invited me to Milan to debut my collection as a new talent. It was the same year I had my colon removed.

I started working at the Patricia Field boutique as a salesperson three days a week. [Around that time], I had just lost my last pair of sunglasses and wasn’t finding anything that excited me. So I found a cheap pair of sunglasses and covered them in crystals.

Portrait of A-Morir founder, Kerin Rose Gold

Getting my big break:

I wore my new sunglasses out and I was literally chased through traffic on multiple occasions. People were like, “What are you wearing? Those sunglasses, they’re amazing.” And when I walked into the boutique where I worked, some of the buyers were on the floor, and they said, “Make more of those, we’ll sell them.” 

Katy Perry’s stylist came into the store one day and bought a pair of my heart glasses for her. She wore them for this performance for a magazine cover party. And then, a girlfriend of mine was shopping in SoHo wearing my chain glasses and Rihanna’s personal stylists accosted her. Rihanna wore a pair out to dinner the next night. The next day, I woke up to three or four orders. I thought, “I just made more money overnight than I did in two weeks at my last job.”

When it clicked for me:

In the last job I was at, I made $27,000 a year. And I was like, “If in two years, I can do $27,000 a year, I’ll pursue this full-time.” That did not take long at all. But it took me a really long time to feel comfortable enough calling myself a designer or calling this a business. And it took even longer to say, “You know what? I’m a working artist. That’s what I am. How cool is that?” 

The biggest challenge I overcame: 

In 2011, Vogue Italia invited me to Milan to debut my collection as a new talent. It was the same year I had my colon removed.

I went to Milan with a colostomy bag six weeks after recovering from surgery. Trying to figure out how to run a business while you’re basically useless is really tricky. At a time, the business was really ramping up. Designing a collection while you’re still not fully functional and having to run around the city was fucking brutal. My luggage was lost on that trip too. Resiliency is not a badge of honor, it’s just something that happens to people. 

A mistake I made in the early days of my business:

In 2010, a luxury showroom took interest in me. The owner told me I needed to do wholesale to build brand value and that selling online was really low-brow. I didn’t come from fashion, so I didn’t know any better.

I was broke and miserable and not enjoying the creative process because I was trying to turn the business into something that it’s not. I realized, “Don’t do trade shows. Don’t try to sell to people who don’t give a shit about your product.”

A-Morir's colorful New York studio space featuring a wall of embellished eyewear
A-Morir’s New York studio space is a reflection of Kerin’s unique aesthetic.

I don’t actively seek out wholesale now, but I will do special projects with retailers when it feels like a really good fit. For instance, I sold a bunch of my collection with Selfridges for holiday 2021, because the theme was sparkles and Elton John. 

The moments I’m most proud of:

Honestly, it’s things that you wouldn’t expect, like being able to treat my parents to dinner or being able to employ other people. Most people that work at my studio are fledgling crystal artists as well. To be able to pay people to learn is super fucking cool. 

Last year I started doing full looks for people. Mary J. Blige wore a crystallized bodysuit and boots that I did for a performance. I fully crystallized Lizzo and her backup dancers for their SNL performance. I got to go to SNL and work there all day—that was super special. 

My top marketing channels: 

It’s a mix. I’m in the process of redesigning my website because I want it to be a better storyteller for the brand. I have a mailer, and new releases and sales do really great there. 

Do whatever feels organic and authentic to you—that’s probably where you’re going to thrive.

Instagram and Pinterest are two really big social platforms for me. As an almost 40-year-old, getting into TikTok seems daunting, but like with meditation, every six months I’m like, “ really have to get into this.” And then I don’t.

I don’t think that there’s one successful equation for every entrepreneur. Find out where your work shines the best, and find an audience on whatever platform jives with what you do. Do whatever feels organic and authentic to you—that’s probably where you’re going to thrive.

My favorite Shopify apps:

I use Cozy Video Gallery and Cozy Image Gallery, which, for a brand like mine, is super important. I have hundreds of press and celebrity photos and videos. Those are really helpful from a narrative standpoint.

I also use Klaviyo, an Instagram feed app Pina Instagram Feed, and Buddha Mega Menu & Navigation. I do spend more time than I’m comfortable admitting going into the Shopify App Store to see if there are any exciting apps that would beef up the website. 

A-Morir founder, Kerin Rose Gold working on her laptop

Advice I’d give to crafter entrepreneurs:

When I was starting out, I was pricing my stuff really low. A girlfriend of mine who has a jewelry line called Cubannie Links was like, “You’re probably making $6 an hour after you take away supplies and materials. You can’t do this.” She was wonderful and showed me how to make a line sheet and probably saved me from going broke when I got my first few orders.

I’ve become a crafting advocate because the crafting community so sorely undervalues its work. It’s really important for me to call it out if I see someone who’s underpricing themselves.