her Baltimore home studio, Rachel Mulherin makes a
pair of earrings for a wedding.
— Her jewelry has been requested by the likes of
Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Her designs are featured in
fashion glossies and are stocked in boutiques throughout
the region. And her online store and Instagram page are
drawing new customers each day.
Mulherin’s use of rough slivers and chunks of
semiprecious stones in her collections has earned her a
following that has her poised to be Maryland’s next
more impressive is that Mulherin, 29, produces all the
jewelry herself from the second bedroom of her Federal
Hill apartment, which she has turned into a design
also has been building her empire while maintaining a
full-time job in marketing for an accounting firm. It
can be a grueling schedule.
not a lot of sleep," said Mulherin. "I’ve
got some fine lines and bags under my eyes."
she shows no signs of slowing down.
holiday collection was crazy. I couldn’t even breathe.
It was wonderful and insane," she said. "After
January 1, the demand usually drops off. But it hasn’t
knows that the long days and sacrifices are worth it.
She has followed the work of some of Maryland’s most
successful designers and retailers — Christian Siriano,
Danielle DiFerdinando and South Moon Under — and she
wants to follow their paths.
read a lot about what other designers have done,"
she said. "You make 8,500 mistakes, and you don’t
stop. You get stronger every time."
and her designs stand out, according to fashion
has to be her personality and her willingness to succeed
in life," said Pervis Ross, Mulherin’s New York
City-based publicist. "She’s a go-getter and she
pushes the envelope."
who has represented Mulherin for about a year and runs
her Manhattan showroom, wanted to work with her after
seeing her designs on social media.
two had worked together seven years ago when Mulherin
interned at Seventh House PR, a fashion marketing firm
with offices in Los Angeles and New York. It was there,
Mulherin said, that she was inspired to pursue jewelry
design as a career — she found that fashion publicity
wasn’t for her, but she loved working with jewelry
mother, Nancy, an oncology nurse, taught her 10 years
ago how to make jewelry after learning from a friend.
mom showed me basic necklace making," Mulherin
said. "I’ve taken a metal course or two at the
Baltimore Jewelry Center. Other than that, I taught
first, Mulherin made jewelry for friends and family. She
sold her creations at a couple of gatherings at friends’
houses, and she operated her own Etsy shop for a year
before launching a website three years ago.
did well with Etsy," she said. "Then I went to
trade shows. I made a lot of mistakes."
said she spent $18,000 on her first trade show, which
didn’t produce much of a return. But she’s learned
from her missteps and gives herself room to continue
reason I continue to have a day job is because it allows
me to pay for stuff like that," she said.
Washington, a Baltimore-based stylist and fashion editor
at Essence and People Style Watch, is one of Mulherin’s
nearly 14,000 Instagram followers.
love Rachel’s effortless mix of all things earthy and
glamorous," said Washington. "The combo of
natural stones with gold touches really elevates your
look from fashionable to the ranks of serious personal
style because her work complements all trends and
translates to almost any occasion.’
thinks that Mulherin will make it big.
think it is just a matter of time before we see Rachel
blow up," she said. "Designers have to be
wearable yet present a unique point of view. They have
to have an element of exclusivity but [be] viable
commercially. In short, they have to know their
customer, and I think Rachel has really mastered that
mix with her work."
Ohanian, a stylist who worked on Beyonce’s recent
"Lemonade" special on HBO, requested a number
of pieces from Mulherin for the show.
like that she captures the magic of our Mother Earth by
incorporating the sparkle in her jewelry," Ohanian
said of Mulherin’s appeal.
learned about Mulherin through Ross.
five years, I see her in major department stores and
having a boutique," Ross said, adding that a major
department store has already shown interest in carrying
jewelry’s edginess and sophistication drew the
attention of Francesca’s Bridal. Victoria Ripple,
marketing director for the bridal and evening wear
retailer, has been carrying Mulherin since the fall.
Mulherin’s jewelry was initially sold at the
now-closed Cupcake boutique. It was then picked up at
Francesca’s Bridal and Francesca’s Atelier. It’s
also sold at Ruth Shaw in Cross Keys and Hitched Salon
[customers] love her designs because they are not like
any other earrings they’ve seen for formal events and
special occasions," Ripple said. "A lot of the
gowns are formal, so they like her designs because they
add a funky element."
stores carry about 25 styles from Mulherin.
presence here is growing," she said. "People
are really starting to get to know about her. She’s
definitely starting to get popular within the
bridal market is a fairly new endeavor for Mulherin, who
created her first bridal collection in the fall.
bridal collection has really taken off," she said.
"The earrings are selling like crazy. Bridal sells
three times more than the new collection."
STORY CAN END HERE)
month, Mulherin was busy completing orders from her
online store in her Federal Hill studio, which is filled
with stylish inspiration. It helps to motivate her, she
said. There are several coffee table books about Coco
Chanel and the Olsen twins, longtime favorites of hers.
grew up with them. They really have good taste,"
Mulherin said of the former child actresses now
responsible for the fashion lines The Row and Elizabeth
"mood board" is filled with more than a dozen
cutout magazine images that inspired her recent bridal
collection. A dress form is peppered with finished
designs. A huge window lets in warm light that reflects
off nearly 50 semiprecious stones such as amethyst,
druzy quartz and geodes lined up neatly on her desk.
is where I make everything," said Mulherin, who in
10 minutes had picked out and set the stones for her
"Rumi" necklace — a blue kyanite center
surrounded by teardrop labradorite stones hung from a
delicate gold chain.
consider this an everyday necklace," she said as
she examined in a nearby mirror how it looked on her
neck. "It’s easy to put on and to layer. You can
wear it with a blouse and jeans or a T-shirt."
typically starts with about 70 pieces in a collection.
She then cuts that down to around 60 pieces. Style
duplicates — none of her jewelry is exactly the same
— of those 60 pieces are then put on her website and
sent to stores. Mulherin estimates that she makes five
pieces of jewelry a week to fill orders from her website
alone. Reorders, editorial pulls from publications and
celebrity requests are additional work.
the past few years, Mulherin’s jewelry has been
featured in Redbook, People Style Watch and Seventeen.
More recently, a labradorite pendant by Mulherin
appeared in the February issue of Elle Canada, and
actress Keke Palmer wore Mulherin’s black druzy
necklace in the February issue of Nylon.
Mulherin said she has been informed by Elle UK, Glamour
Latin America, Glamour Iceland and L’Officiel that her
jewelry will appear in spreads this summer.
kind of surreal," she said. "To think that my
pieces I made at my kitchen table made it into Elle was
a high for sure. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps