Moran Amir (CAS '05) is a recent alumna who started an online jewelry retailer called Adornia with her business school classmate, Becca Aronson. "Bex and Mo" are trailblazing online retail of fine jewelry with their impressive blog, The United States of Adornia, and their unique style profile/ curated collections approach. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mo about the company, her time at NYU and what it's like to enter the start-up world as a recent grad.
NYU Arts & Science Alumni Relations: Coming to school from South Florida, what was the biggest thing you had to get used to about life in the Apple?
Moran (Mo) Amir: In 2001, my NYU dorm was right smack in the financial district. I could not return to my dorm for months after the 9/11 attacks. The school put us up in midtown hotels for that period. Once we returned to the dorm, I don’t think I went north of 34th Street for a full year! Otherwise, setting foot at NYU, I really grew up instantly. New York catalyzed and forced me to think about things such as career and relationships much earlier than I expected. I had to get used to an adult life more than a geographical switch. But New York teams with energy and activity like no other, keeping its inhabitants youthful. I could not have self-actualized better in any other environment! From rummaging at designer sample sales to visiting world-class art exhibits, New York was the perfect supplement to a college education during these formative adult years.
Alumni Relations: As a history major, how did you become interested in jewelry and business?
Mo: My history major gave me a strong framework to deconstruct the world around me. I gained a vocabulary to understand topics ranging from fashion to feminism. I pondered a career in academia shortly after graduating, but knew I wanted to work more hands on in a field. My parents were small business owners and instilled in me a business instinct from a very young age. I felt a calling to fashion and jewelry from a very young age. Having emigrated from Israel to America at age four, fashion provided me with visual and aesthetic cues to communicate around the initial language barrier. By the time I was nine, my preferred reading was Vogue and Bazaar. Graduating NYU double summa cum laude, I had always thought fashion was simply going to remain a hobby, not a job opportunity. I could not have been more wrong! Corny as it sounds, fashion is my passion, and I love waking up every morning to Adornia. I do believe that my high school class had it right when they voted me both most likely to succeed and style all her own…I found a career path that united both seamlessly.
Alumni Relations: How was the concept for Adornia born?
Mo: The jewelry market was ripe for innovation. My business partner Bex and I surveyed the retail landscape and saw a real opportunity and unsatisfied demand for a modern feminine jeweler concept that bridged the design innovation in costume with the materials and quality of fine jewelry. We wanted to position fine jewelry in a fashion context through strong editorial photography and themed collections. This is a stark departure from the predominantly bridal-focused fine jewelry market.
Alumni Relations: What is the biggest challenge of starting a business as a recent graduate?
Mo: Getting over the initial mental barrier of fear is the first step. I watched my savings account dwindle while my peers at Wharton were in the process of securing safe career paths. But the risk-reward tradeoff and the level of impact achievable with entrepreneurship is much more significant! Once you commit to pursuing the business idea seriously, possessing the industry experience and the right startup team are crucial to getting started. My business partner Bex Aronson and I met during our first year in the MBA program at Wharton and became close friends almost instantly. Prior to business school, Bex was an Accessories Editor at Lucky Magazine and Fashion Editor at Redbook. This was the perfect complement to my operations and buying experience in the retail industry. Our friendship and skills built Adornia.
Alumni Relations: What attracted you to building an online business rather than a shop?
Mo: Online you can truly put together a compelling aesthetic vision, bringing the jewelry to life outside of the jewelry case in a traditional bricks-and-mortar store format. And from a business angle, a pure-play e-tailer is more equipped to both absorb costs and hold a wider geographical reach.
Alumni Relations: Where do you find jewelry designs?
Mo: We find inspiration in our every day lives and travels. Our product offering is balanced between personal pieces and collection pieces. Personal pieces are the jewelry staples—thin stacking bangles, delicate rings, studs, etc.—forming the base layer of every woman’s jewelry wardrobe. The Adornia collections house our evolving creative vision through themed assortments of bolder jewelry pieces. We use strong editorial content and photography to bring the collections to life every season.
Alumni Relations: What is the “United States of Adornia?”
Mo: The United States of Adornia is our blog and style guide for all things jewelry. We grapple with the hard fashion issues surrounding jewelry. Blog entries range from how to complement your rings with the ideal nail color to style profiles on the most stylish ladies who wear their jewels particularly well. It is the place where we have fun connecting with our audience and imparting our jewelry expertise.