Cristy Cali founded her jewelry brand in 2012 only 5 months after graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, but she’s been in the business her whole life. Born in Guatemala, Cristy was raised in New Orleans most of her life due to her father’s service in the US Army. Her parents are natural-born leaders & entrepreneurs that started an exporting business in the 80’s to bring in handcrafted Mayan goods to sell at the French Market. Cristy grew up traveling with her parents on business, getting to hang out with the craftsmen, artists and jewelry makers along the way. So being a jewelry designer is in her blood!
I hope anyone wearing my pieces feel above anything, loved. Loved for just being. For being who you are. For breathing. For being alive. I make jewelry for you.
Is there a jewelry designer that you have been inspired by or admired during your journey?
Of course! True artists feel and understand the energy and message other artists desire to communicate. This is why we do what we do. When I feel a connection to a designer artist I can relate to, not only am I inspired, I may also become a customer. One of my favorite designers is Freywille, a fire enamel-style brand out of Austria.
What’s one of your favorite pieces you have ever designed?
This is the most common and most difficult question to answer. Personally, I view my designs as the time, place and origin of inspiration. So, my pieces take me back in time to when I was feeling a certain way. The Cali Amulet is my go to, to feel protected in my own skin. This design was inspired by the Native American medicine wheel, a tool they use to raise their vibration, awareness and connection to the Earth. It is my statement to the world that I am a Divine creation and everyone who wears it should remember this always. We may be skin and bones, but internally we have these eternal souls that are connected to the Universe. That’s pretty powerful. The Queen of Hearts was a design I created when I realized I needed to begin taking care of myself more because I was putting the needs of others above my own. The crown is an ancient symbol of royal blood, the Christ, and Divinity itself. Our hearts may be of the Earth, but the ability to love is a gift from Our Creator, and what keeps us connected to everything, the Universe.
What pieces do you actually wear day-to-day?
I have a large travel case with as many of my pieces as I can fit. I actually tend to wear the same pieces for a little while. I will find a combination I like and wear them over and over again, until I feel an impulse to change. This summer, I traveled to my home country of Guatemala, a place where the natural landscape will literally take your breath away. My arms get chills in my attempt to absorb the beauty of Mother Nature here. I wore Nefertem’s Lotus Necklace almost the entire time, the Banana Leaf collection and my Element Ring. Oh, actually I lied… I just noticed there are two pieces of jewelry I wear every single day – the Classic Ball Bracelet with my Cali Padlock and my Cali Amulet Link Bracelet. I think because the Ball Bracelet is just so, classy, haha. And again, the Amulet Bracelet because it is my reminder of my Oneness with the Universe.
What has been the most unexpected challenge you have faced in building a successful business?
My greatest unexpected challenge has been finding a harmonious balance in managing all the hats I wear AND saying NO. I started this business as a people pleaser, and now after overextending myself too many times, I had to learn to say no and not feel bad about it. Growing pains are no joke with a small business as well. When it was just me by myself, I was happy until I got overwhelmed and work didn’t feel so fun anymore. My fire of passion was literally burning out a few years ago until I finally found good help, which was really hard to come by. But the Universe put some amazing people in my path. For example, Sarah Rose Frye, my former music teacher is now my customer service manager because we built such a strong, trusting and loving relationship. My operations manager, Fatima Ayala, was a former employee of my husband several years ago. As one of the brightest Earth Angels I’ve ever met, she stood out in his memory as someone who would be perfect for the job, and she is. And the most surprising help of all is my media manager Meg Smith. We’ve never actually met, in person; but we’ve been working together for nearly a year. She understands me so well, and I feel incredibly connected to her from a distance. I know the Universe put her in my path by chance and it was meant to be. Not only does she understand me, but she takes the words out of my mouth and rearranges them in such a more eloquent manner, I feel I couldn’t have said them better myself. We are an all-female operated company, except for my husband, Jack, who I call VP to help me out with certain things he’s very good at. But he’s not on payroll, haha. Honestly, if it weren’t for Jack I doubt I would have ever started the business. He’s the one that encouraged me to do it.
One thing you can’t live without?
Just one?! Geez! Out of herbal tea, organic makeup, metaphysical books, a notebook or sketchbook, pencils, markers, tarot deck, laptop and life saving portable charger, I’d say… my sketchbook. Because I must always have a means to express my thoughts and ideas towards one step of reality.
One piece of advice for women working to start their own business?
Do not allow your fear to get in the way. You have more power than you realize and the moment you begin to fear the the moment your power ends. One of the greatest challenges is believing in yourself – your abilities, capabilities and potential. Seek knowledge and learn what you don’t know. Ask for help. Pay for advice from those that have done what you desire to do. You can never invest enough time and money from coaching or consulting as you are gaining information from the experience of others so you do not make the same mistakes or waste precious time. I was a lone wolf for too long, working by myself trying to do everything. The wolf also needs a pack, one that supports you and that you can support in return.
Fave bar in Nola?
Despite the fact I seldom drink, I do have a favorite bar. Bouligny is where Jack and I will end up around midnight or later. Since we both work from home, sometimes late hours, we feel the need to just get out of the house. I like Bouligny because it’s like stepping back in time a few decades. The decor, lighting and ambience is a 70’s haven topped with sounds of their genuine record player. Ask for Michael at the bar and tell them Jack & Cristy sent ya
Cristy is also a certified holistic life coach, Vedic Astrologer, a doctor of metaphysics, and spiritual junkie. Her vision for her first brick and mortar is for it to be much more than a jewelry store.
It will be a special place of learning and empowerment. Expect to find seminars on crystal healing, chat with a Voo Doo Priestess, discover the best gem stone according to your birth chart, attend a workshop to make your own essential oil jewelry, and much more!
To keep up with the progress, as Cristy and her team prepare to open their doors to a flagship store on Magazine Street this October, follow @CristyCaliJewelry on Instagram. Discounted store credit gift cards and VIP Memberships will be offered until July 30th so you can save at the new store at www.CristyCaliNola.com