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A Life in Fashion

They do more than create apparel. They can see a bird and turn its colors into a fabric print. They can whip up costumes for an entire opera company. Meet the multitasking magicians we call fashion designers.


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Seen at Shasa Emporium in Kahala Mall, Katrina Cordova enjoys working with store managers, who give her feedback on her work.

Photo: Rae Huo

The Entrepreneur

Known for fresh, wearable designs, Katrina Cordova’s jewelry has a passionate fan following.

“My style is consistent—simple, classic. It’s not going to go out of style. At my trunk shows, customers will say, ‘I bought this 10 years ago and still wear it,’” says Cordova, who was born and raised on Oahu. “A lot of my customers are moms and professionals. They don’t have a lot of time. The pieces are versatile.” 

Her necklaces, earrings and bracelets come in gold fill, silver and oxidized silver, with mostly semiprecious stones, such as citrine or blue topaz, though some of her work features rubies or diamonds. Her prices range from $50 to $200.

“I always try to incorporate affordability, but also to make it a good value for what you’re getting—the gemstones, quality and craftsmanship. It’s still going to last.”

The line is carried at 18 shops in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Utah and Japan, and Cordova courts a close relationship with her customers and store managers, doing two trunk shows per year, per island.

“I like working one-on-one with store owners,” she says. “If there is a glitch, they’ll tell me, ‘It keeps breaking here’ or ‘This clasp isn’t working,’ It’s constant feedback.” And for her fans, she says, “every six weeks the devoted followers will find something new.”

Photo: Rae Huo

Cordova is a self-taught artist, but has a retail background, including management training with Banana Republic, where she worked for eight years. She credits her retail experience with teaching her the merchandising and marketing skills she uses today.

Her jewelry making, she says, “was just a passion, not to create an empire. When I had my son [he’s now 3], I saw an opportunity to work from home. It’s been a blessing.” She makes all of her jewelry by hand, up to 300 pieces in a busy month.

“It’s been so personal. I’d love to hire someone, but …” she trails off, clearly torn on the idea. “And I don’t make huge quantities.” The stores carry some of her most popular styles, such as the “Sexy Hoop” earrings, while you can find her limited editions at trunk shows, such as her Mother’s Day event at Shasa Emporium in Kāhala Mall, on May 1.

Cordova has been dabbling with edgier, statement necklaces, and says she’d love to get into metalsmithing down the road. In the meantime, she says, “I’m always flattered when I hear people say how much they enjoying wearing my jewelry. There’s a little bit of me in each piece and that transcends to the wearer.” 

Where to Shop:

Katrina Cordova, You can find her designs at Shasa Emporium in Kahala Mall, and all the Tori Richard stores. For more stores, visit katrinacordovadesigns.com


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