This Celeb-Loved Indie Brand Just Landed At Nordstrom — But Got Its Start On Instagram

You know those indie brands in your feed that you can’t help but double-tap? First, one of their posts catches your eye, and the next thing you know, everyone you follow is following them too. Suddenly you’re eyeing tagged products and itching to click the link in bio. In our new series Big On Instagram, we go offline with these brands to find out how their companies reached a follower count that ends with a “K”, and the #BTS of actually running a successful business.
In 2015, the Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Adina Kamkhatchi was just like a lot of other people using Instagram to document their lives. In her case, it was posting photos of the accessories that she was assembling by hand in her parents' kitchen in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Using a combination of YouTube tutorials and a knack for construction, Kamkhatchi built simple pieces out of fiber, leather, glass beads, and pearls, posting them to her passion-project account, @adinas.jewels. She sensed at the time that the channel could be a way to reach customers, but, she recalls now, “I didn’t think that the followers would gain up so fast, and I didn’t think it would be that successful.”
Photo: Courtesy of Adina's Jewels.
Adina Khamkhatchi in her Brooklyn office.
Adina’s Jewels now boasts over 300,000 followers on Instagram (along with that legitimizing blue checkmark); as well as some more analog markers of business success: a brick-and-mortar retail location, a 4,000-square foot office space, and over 20 employees. Another traditional — but no less significant — milestone occurred on Monday, when the brand launched its second delivery of jewels at the venerable department store Nordstrom, marking the runaway success of the very first wholesale partnership for the four-year-old direct-to-consumer company.
The assortment consists of the brands’ stone-studded gold vermeil and sterling silver rings, necklaces, and earrings, inspired by Adina’s own “powerhouse” personal style and an elevated aesthetic that trickles down from her passion for luxury ready-to-wear. Most of the collection retails for under $90, and while the designer wouldn’t go into too much detail about sales, she does indicate she was “speechless” when she saw the response from Nordstrom’s customers. “It’s doing really, really well,” she says.
Her jewelry business, she says, “started at first as a side thing,” and posting finished pieces to Instagram “was a way for me to showcase my jewelry and show my aesthetic,” explains the 23-year-old. But her followers responded immediately. With her personal phone number listed on her profile, she was suddenly inundated with calls and text messages from potential customers who wanted to know how they could purchase multiples of items. “I’d post a picture and an hour later, the item was sold. I was like, ‘OK,  I’m not going to go to sleep tonight, I’ll stay up.’” 

"I don’t go home. I can’t tell you how many times I just fall asleep at my desk.”

Suddenly, the side business was all-consuming. “I going to college part-time and [making] jewelry part-time. And then [Adina’s Jewels] became full-time, and I was full-time college; so I was drowning.” The pace has only amped up as the business has grown: even now, she says, “There’s not one day that I haven’t worked in the office 12 hours — 13 hours during the busy season. I don’t go home. I can’t tell you how many times I just fall asleep at my desk.”
It came as a surprise to Adina that her followers became shoppers almost right away. “I’m just showing you my pictures, you don’t know me,” she says. “You don’t know where I’m from. I could just take your money and leave.” However, she was 18 when she started the business, she said her youth was obvious — “you could hear it in my voice and see it my messages that I was a kid,” — her enthusiasm and sincerity inspired customers’ confidence.
Photo: Courtesy of Adina's Jewels.
Kendall Jenner
Her online following was insular at first, limited to users in Adina’s immediate network, but grew quickly thanks to celebrities like singer Madison Beer, whose early exposure to her 13.5 million followers, says Adina, “basically doubled our following, I’d say overnight.” Now the brand’s fan roster reads like a who’s who of the Insta-fabulous reality-star set, with the Jenners, the Hadids, and the Zieglers regularly appearing on the ’gram bedecked in Adina’s handiwork. (The designer even used the platform to cultivate a personal relationship with Millie Bobby Brown — “I DMed her, and she answered!” says the designer.)
Photo: Courtesy of Adina's Jewels.
Keke Palmer
While the benefits of celebrity exposure are obvious due to the volume of potential customers to be reached, Adina explains that the halo of trust surrounding celebrities has the added benefit of substantiating your product. “I feel like a very big thing with Instagram is, you can post a beautiful picture, but where’s your legitimacy?” The sight of well-known faces — and fingers, wrists and necks — sporting her trademark baubles “gave us the credibility that we definitely needed.”

“The algorithms on Instagram and Facebook change all the time, so you need to be aware of that as a business owner. What happens if tomorrow, Instagram no longer exists?”

With every new megawatt endorsement came the need for new sales channels. As Adina says, “once you reach the world, you have to have a website,” so she enlisted her brother Mayer to build the Adina’s Jewels e-commerce outlet. (He’s now the company’s CEO.) In 2017, they signed a lease on a 750-square foot boutique in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn (“It was a perfectly-sized store for jewelry — not too big, not too small,” says the designer). They were also quick to pursue other digital marketing strategies beyond social media — “The algorithms on Instagram and Facebook change all the time, so you need to be aware of that as a business owner,” says Adina. “What happens if tomorrow, Instagram no longer exists? It’s really really important to have other outlets.”
While the designer now has plentiful staff to help handle the growing volume of orders, her approach to customer interaction hasn’t changed since the kitchen-table days. She still insists on reading “every single DM, every question, every comment” that comes through the brand’s social media channels to ensure that every inquiry is addressed with care. “I stand by my customers and I make sure to go the extra mile for as many as I possibly can — to me, that makes a world of a difference.”
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