With so many jewellery brands out there, it takes a lot to stand out. Luckily VidaKush definitely isn’t for wallflowers. Fusing an ethnic hippy aesthetic with hints of brash, hip hop style gold items, the LA based company has infinite numbers of lust-worthy pieces in every collection they release.

Having admired their designs for years, we talk to the creative director and designer, Rhianna Cooper, to discuss her influences, inspirations and VidaKush’s upcoming collaboration with Viper. You heard it here first!

Tell us a little about yourself,
My name’s Rhianna Cooper. I’m 25, from Los Angeles, California. I’m the designer for VidaKush, I also take photos and do freelance styling on the side.

How did you learn how to make jewellery, is it an easy trade to get into?
I would say you definitely need to have an artistic inclination. It’s something that you can learn pretty easy, if you like doing tedious things and working with your hands. As long as you have the concept for it, I would say it’s definitely an easy trade to get into.

What steps did you take from designing jewellery to making pieces to establishing VidaKush as a brand?
We started selling at this flea market in Hollywood, called the Melrose Trading Post. When we were there we noticed a really positive response from the jewellery that we were selling. Then, it just kind of grew on its own. I went to a trade show and got some wholesale accounts, it was kind of like the right place at the right time with Instagram becoming really popular and being able to be in LA, meeting models, meeting photographers, I learned how to start a website. I would definitely say it was all the right place at the right time.

Do you have a favourite piece you have designed?
Actually I have it on, it’s a rosary I made called La Noche Buena. It has pearls and is antique sliver looking. It’s like a basic rosary but I really love it, I wear it almost everyday. The other necklace I’m wearing is a thin choker called Baby Cholita Choker, it’s a really dainty choker.

Where do you design your pieces? 
We make and design everything right here in Culver City, where our studio is. The speed at which we can stay on top of trends is really fast, it’s cool because it goes along with how much marketing we do on Instagram. We could come out with something new every single week, instead of releasing large collections. Traditionally fashion has always been about Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter [collections] but we don’t really operate on that system and jewellery in general doesn’t usually operate like that because one, LA don’t have no seasons and two, we could have a new collection every week if we wanted to.

Where did the name Vida Kush come from?
Vida means life in Spanish and then Kush is in reference to the Kush Kingdom, which is what ancient Egypt used to call their golden era. So it means “live gold.” That’s how I would describe my style, laid back and then you put on a piece of jewellery and you feel special and pretty. I feel like everyone should feel like that everyday.

What makes Vida Kush different fro other jewellery brands?
We hand-make everything in LA and I think that the speed with which we’re able to design, market and produce makes us different. We don’t have to wait six months like your typical company that makes their pieces in China, in order to get our pieces out. If we hear a song or notice that something is trendy we can make it right away and release it to the public right away.

Your main source of distribution is pop-up stores and markets around LA. Do you choose your location based on what vibes that area will have?
Our main pop up location in LA is the flea market, so I’d say that’s probably the highest concentration location in LA, where you’d see the most stylish people or the most off-duty models in one area. So I think its probably the best location to be able to do a weekly pop-up. We’ve done pop-ups in Tokyo and Miami, places where we’ve had an opportunity come our way, but I wouldn’t say it’s as strategic.

Do you think the LA lifestyle and what it stands for is demonstrated within your brand?
Definitely. I think it’s hard, because people in LA don’t have a specific style, everyone mixes it up a lot. That’s reflected in the brand. You can drive 15 minutes and get a completely different view of the city, you can be in a wealthy part like Hollywood or Beverly Hills, then go Downtown and see something completely different, so that’s reflected in the jewellery.

Who would you most like to see wear your jewellery?
That’s a hard question at the moment, we had Zoë Kravitz wearing our jewellery and I really love her and her style. I mean I think ultimately it would have to be Rihanna, when she wore that gold crown…


Words by Mollie Hayes

This is an extract from the Spring Summer 16 Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.

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