Luiny Rivera on taking chances and learning from mistakes

Luiny Rivera is the self-taught designer behind her namesake jewelry brand, LUINY. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Luiny moved to New York City to further pursue her career as a jewelry designer, initially creating pieces for Urban Outfitters and Free People, before transitioning into building her own brand.

Luiny, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a creative and hard-working woman, with a good eye for beautiful things and a love of delicious food. Mother of two cats, a lover and a loner. Always rearranging my home because I love interior design and need to be constantly changing and upgrading things. I need that continuous movement in everything that I’m in contact with…

What attracted you to pursuing a career in jewelry design?

What attracted me to pursuing a career in jewelry design was the need to have a creative outlet as well as the need to work for myself. I was studying to become a teacher, and while upcycling jewelry and learning basic jewelry techniques, I discovered that teaching wasn’t my calling but that design was, so I gave it a chance.

It wasn’t in my plan to become a jewelry designer. lt just happened and I realized that I was good at it. Now I am attached forever to something that I love to do. I keep a balance on what really inspires me and what’s on trend to maintain the uniqueness of my line.

While still living in Puerto Rico, you began designing jewelry and clothing out of recyclable materials. How do you currently practice sustainability?

I use fair trade and consciously-sourced components when possible and have always practiced a sustainable, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Most of my casting is made with 50% recycled metals and I also sell back to my cast makers the metal scraps or rejects to be reused.

How has being a self-taught jewelry designer influenced your creative process? Have you had any notable mentors along the way?

Mistakes along the way have been the best teachers and the best mentors. People come and go but in between you learn a lot from them. Because I mostly do everything by myself, I spend a lot of time alone in my studio. For that and many other reasons my creative process can be very emotional. I go through some dark moments, sometimes I lose confidence but there is always something or someone that gives me light. I go from dark to light quickly and then it happens: ideas start flowing, and a new collection is done. It is a relief when it’s finished. It’s very exciting when the pieces are appreciated.

Aside from designing jewelry, you also perform the day-to-day functions of running and growing your business, and do most of the photography, editing and art direction. That can be quite a lot sometimes! What have been some of the challenges you've encountered through this process?

My number one challenge is that I don’t delegate much, so I can often be on a time-crunch when a deadline is near. It can be stressful but I love doing all that and being in control. Also, no one has the connection to my brand like I do, and photography is another form of self expression for me, so although it is stressful sometimes, it is very rewarding.

Several brands have imitated your designs for mass production at lower quality and cost. What are some things we can do to be mindful of and honor the work of independent designers, such as yourself?

Don’t support them! Call them out on it! Buy directly from the designer.

As a native of Puerto Rico with many family and friends living there currently, are there any organizations or ongoing Hurricane Maria relief efforts you would recommend for people wanting to contribute?

I think the best way to support Puerto Rico is to go there and stay at a local hotel, eat at many of the amazing locally run restaurants, and support Puerto Rico’s economy while treating yourself.

What do you practice to overcome the stresses of work and life?

Gardening, crying, smoking weed, sex, dancing by myself, working out, stuffing myself with chocolate…you know, all the bad good things!

What rituals do you cherish?

Mostly and most consistently, my self-care routine before going to bed and clearing the air with a candle, setting an intention and keeping fresh flowers and nice plants all around me.

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