In an interview with AltPress, jewelry designer Clare Ngai discusses her Y2K-inspired jewelry brand BONBONWHIMS and the journey to being worn by all manner of celebrities.
When asked how BONBONWHIMS started, Ngai said, "I started two years ago during the pandemic, and it was always just a hobby of mine to make jewelry. At the time, I was just using it as a vehicle to fundraise for Black Lives Matter and it organically took off and more and more people organically found the brand. So I was able to use it as a platform to continue raising money, continually for AAPI charities. It was very organic. I didn’t think it was gonna be a business."
When asked about the Y2K-inspired aesthetic and why it resonated with the brand, Ngai said, "It is almost ingrained in my upbringing. Just growing up in Hong Kong, I think that I’ve always loved kawaii and kitschy things. So much of my generation, even across the world, were very influenced by all the Y2K trends that were happening in America. It’s very nostalgic for me. Part of my personality has always felt very natural to just incorporate all the elements into the brand."
"Definitely all the resin baubles are the most popular for us. All the initial rings, and the really colorful enamel pieces such as the Pop Drop Earrings and the Ling Bling Rings, these are all staples and really popular with us. Anything I think that has a customizable touch is really big for us," said Ngai when asked about her most popular items.
When asked about her first big celebrity endorsement, Ngai explained, "Our first big celeb was Kylie Jenner, which is wild just considering her influence. She wore the pop drop earring which has become one of our most iconic skews, thanks to her as well. After that, I would say the most influential people who have worn our pieces are Ariana Grande and Olivia Rodrigo. Ariana wore a bunch of our resin chunky rings. Olivia Rodrigo wore the brutal ring that’s named after her song in the music video. And then SZA wore the custom initial rings we made for her."
When asked how she plans to expand her offerings to the public, Ngai said, "We had a great moment with all the resin and acrylic baubles in the last year or so, and Y2K is always going to be a big part of the brand DNA, but I think we're going to just elevate the brand a little bit and make it still colorful — still whimsical — but maybe [using] more precious metals or enamel and freshwater pearls to make it more timeless. That is how we are pivoting the brand a little bit while still being true to the Y2K brand ethos. We are actually going to expand a little bit outside of jewelry. We are playing with hair accessories [and are] actually creating some prototypes right now."
Information originally sourced from AltPress.