When asked why she chose a lion as the logo and symbol of her brand, Cindy Kaiser’s answer is simple: “it reminds me of home, of Africa”.
Any person born and bred on the African continent will tell you that Africa stays with you, no matter where in the world you might find yourself. Her warmth, her vibrancy, her innate wildness remains within us and continues to inspire us, despite the distance we might have put between us.
Cindy Kaiser is the lady behind the lion of the La Kaiser jewelry brand. Born in Harare to Swiss parents, Kaiser grew up in Zimbabwe and completed her high school education there before moving on to study Creative Metalwork and Design in the Visual Arts faculty at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Growing up in Zimbabwe meant Kaiser was fortunate to experience many a safari: when nature is on your doorstep, you grow up with the privilege of seeing wildlife on a regular basis.
During her four years at Stellenbosch University Kaiser spent her holidays split between Zurich with her grandmother, and Harare with the rest of her family. As a result, her design style strikes a balance between classic and clean, and vibrant and contemporary. She draws inspiration from her European roots and her vibrant African upbringing, and this has resulted in her jewellery collections being eclectic and anything but boring.
In 2009, with her jewellery design degree in hand, Kaiser set off for Los Angeles, California, where she enrolled in a fashion design degree through FIDM: Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Her vision was to expand her knowledge of the fashion industry and, ultimately, to marry this with her love of jewellery design.
Kaiser’s experience in Los Angeles led her to intern with Michael Schmidt Studios, where she worked on designs for the likes of Madonna, Rhianna and the Black-Eyed Peas.
In 2010 Kaiser took the plunge and launched La Kaiser Jewelry. And while she looks back on those early days as tough, with weeks going by without a single order, she credits the tenacity of her African spirit for sticking it out and staying with her vision. She laughs when asked about her first pieces, saying she can’t believe how far her designs have progressed.
Today La Kaiser Jewelry is a highly successful brand based out of Chicago. Kaiser’s studio has grown from a pokey one-room cramped space to an airy and spacious loft filled with light and texture. She has expanded her collections to include one-off pieces, 14kt gold favourites, a bridal offering, and gold vermeil pieces that tap into the fashion trends of the respective seasons.
La Kaiser is also one of the top brands featured on the hugely popular online store, Local Eclectic, and as such Local Eclectic stocks La Kaiser pieces that are exclusive to their store only.
When asked to summarize her designs in one sentence, Kaiser says her jewellery is “simplistic with a touch of contemporary and a pop of colour”. And if we look back on her upbringing and what has influenced her, it is clear to see how she retains the vibrancy of Africa in her work. Whether it be solid 14kt gold rings made up with natural diamonds and colourful topaz, to necklaces of mother-of-pearl, to earrings that shimmer with the opalescence of moonstones and opals (a firm favourite of hers), Kaiser’s jewellery designs are classic and clean, yet contemporary and colourful. And perhaps most importantly, her range of jewellery is vast enough to ensure there is something for every taste.
Despite the success of the La Kaiser brand internationally, the brand remains a small brand, run by only Kaiser and a few key staff members. Kaiser lives and breathes her brand and has worked incredibly hard to achieve success in the United States. We always find ourselves in awe of African designers who break through on the world stages, but when talking to the likes of Kaiser we realize how much determination and hard work goes into achieving these successes. It’s incredibly challenging to remove yourself from your homeland and move across the world, and then to fight it out for success and recognition on a stage where you are a clear outsider. And, with a biased point of view, we think it is the determination of the African spirit that keeps designers like Kaiser going.
The La Kaiser lion represents Kaiser’s love for Africa, but also represents the tenacity of her spirit, and her continual drive for success. We are proud to be an exclusive stockist of the La Kaiser brand in South Africa. Let’s continue to support designers and brands with their roots in Africa, and let’s continue to support small. It literally means the world for designers like Cindy Kaiser.
Shop the latest summer collection from La Kaiser here: https://collectiveandco.co.za/collections/la-kaiser