For Erin Sachse, jewelry and happiness go hand in hand. The designer of jewelry brand Eriness has been making baubles since she was 18—and always brings a sense of optimism to her joyful, colorful designs. Her fresh spins on familiar styles—think tennis bracelets and signet rings with flair—are beloved by the likes of Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, and Lupita Nyong’o. With her buzzy and cheerful designs, Sachse’s pieces are certainly ones to covet. We recently caught up with the designer to talk her Resist collection, favorite hand-me-downs from her grandmother, and a particularly intense Avril Lavigne-inspired jewelry phase.
What’s your first jewelry-related memory?
I was kind of a tomboy growing up in Los Angeles. I didn’t love jewelry, but for some reason, every time I would visit my grandma, the first thing I’d do was open her jewelry drawer and try everything on. Most of it was fake—big, crazy necklaces. But I would learn about the different phases of her life and what she used to wear that way.
Grandmothers have the best jewelry. Is there a hand-me-down piece she gifted you that you still wear today?
She’s handed a lot down to me. There’s one piece that I actually always thought was my mom’s, but I just learned it was hers: this little heart signet ring. My grandma received it as a gift for her 16th birthday, and then she gave it to my mom for her 16th birthday. It’s the inspiration for my smushed heart pinky ring.
What is the first piece of jewelry you remember really coveting?
Okay ,this is embarrassing. Remember, I’m a tomboy in middle school; I found these plastic, pink, two-inch or maybe even bigger, guitar earrings. This was during my Avril Lavigne phase. I was obsessed with them, to the point where I broke them—obviously, because they were plastic and huge—and I rebought them because I thought they were the most amazing, fun things.
Do you remember your first big jewelry purchase?
When I got to the age where I could start spending money on jewelry, I realized there was nothing that I wanted. And that’s when I started making jewelry.
What else inspired you to start your own jewelry line?
I started making jewelry by hand right before I graduated high school. I’d walk down the street and people would start buying jewelry off of me. The next summer, I worked at Fred Segal Kid’s selling Gucci to babies (which I was really against at the time, by the way). One day on my lunch break, I was wearing my handmade hand chains and body chains. Fred Segal’s buyer stopped me and said, “Make me one of those hand chains—if I get 10 compliments tomorrow, I’ll put you in my store.” I made her one. And at the end of the day, she said, “I got my 10 compliments. I’m going to put you in Fred Segal. What’s the name of your brand? What are your wholesale prices? What stones do you use?” I was like, “I don’t even know what wholesale is.” I very quickly learned.
That summer, I made $600 working in retail, went to the gem show, and spent all of it. It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. By the time I went to college in Boston, I was selling jewelry out of my dorm room. There were lines of sorority girls.
Some very cool celebrities have worn your brand over the years. Who were you most excited about?
My all-time favorite was Michelle Obama. I remember when I saw that on my phone, I was like, I’m done. [She wore pieces from my] Resist collection for Planned Parenthood, which I designed for women supporting women. So Michelle Obama in my jewelry just made it feel full circle.
What was the inspiration behind your very first collection, which you called “Resist”?
I launched Resist in 2016, when Trump got elected. But it really was not a collection against Trump. It was a collection for women to support each other and stand up for what we believe in. I relaunched it a few years ago, during Covid, with different pieces—and you could donate to Planned Parenthood, or to Color of Change, or the ACLU. The collection symbolizes what “resist” means to you, and I learned it means different things to everybody. For me, it was all about protecting women’s rights. But when my mom wore her Resist necklace each day, it meant something different for her, because she was fighting cancer at the time. It kind of took on a life of its own.