Marla Aaron always envied her friends who went to art school, but it never occurred to her. Growing up in Bedford, NY, she was a good student with a sense of style and a creative streak. She made jewelry for friends with hooks and pieces of coins her grandmother had thrown away, but her craft was more of a fuss than a calling.
A trip to Argentina as an overseas exchange student and her resulting fluency in Spanish would ultimately shape her career for the next two decades. His first job was to sell commercials for the Spanish Broadcasting System, a Spanish language radio network. Later in her twenties, she moved to Madrid, where she worked in sales for the Spanish magazines Cosmopolitan and Elle.
She returned to New York and spent a year at Columbia University School of Journalism, but after that she had more or less returned to where she started, taking on a series of positions in the commercial sector of the media industry. “It was all pretty boring,” she says. Her situation went from uninspiring to worsening in her mid-30s, when as a newly divorced single mother to a young son, she was fired from her position as Marketing Director for Departures magazine. “It was a very difficult time,” she says.
Days were spent looking for jobs, and she took to knitting and even soldering at night. An image had occurred to her that she couldn’t help but think of: a pendant based on the shape of a carabiner, the sturdy pliers popular with climbers. She wasn’t particularly outdoors, but she was obsessed with the item’s sleek, architectural silhouette. She wanted to do gold, silver and platinum versions.
She found a new job, as a public relations manager for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a commercial organization, and spent her lunch hours browsing shops in Manhattan’s diamond district, chatting with vendors and shopping. Show them the carabiner she wanted to reinterpret as a jewel. . “People tried and said, ‘No, that’s too much work’,” she recalls. “I had an idea of a level of quality and level of excellence far beyond the raw organic pieces I made, which I call ‘art festival jewelry’. “