Olga and Alexandra are gregarious fixtures in the New York art and fashion scene, notorious for their love of whiskey and late-night pizza runs. They are party girls who know everyone, and have even been featured in the independant films of several of their friends. But they are also humanitarians, and work for the Happy Hearts Fund, which helps the victims of natural disasters.
The girls started their company, October Anniversary, on a whim. All of their jewelry is made from recycled metal, which they source from eco-friendly factories that don’t release any pollutants into the ground, water, or air. I recently had the chance to interview the girls over lunch (minus the whiskey) about their aesthetic and what’s next…
How did you girls meet?
Alexandra: We met in October 2005, when I started working for Olga’s sister, Petra Nemcova. I was helping her start Happy Hearts Fund, a foundation that improves children’s lives after natural disasters through educational and sustainable components. Olga has since started working for the foundation as well, so we became friends over the years, and decided a couple of years ago that we wanted to start our own business. Obviously, coming from a charity background, we wanted to be able to benefit others in some way. And obviously, the environment is something that’s on everyone’s radar, so we wanted to do something that was eco-friendly, and also help the foundation that we work for.
What made you decide to create jewelry?
Olga: It was very simple – one day, I read an article about jewelry that inspired me, and I knew that Alexi would be the best business partner due to her amazing skills, so I asked her to be a part of the team.
What inspires you?
Olga: Everything around me: nature, the city, people, artists, history.
What are your favorite cities?
Olga: My favorite cities are New York (obviously), Prague (where I grew up), and Berlin.
Tell me about the symbol-key project.
Alexandra: The key necklace is supposed to mean to the wearer that they hold the key to make a difference in the world. Because we have a social responsibility, and also eco-friendly components to our jewelry. Meaning that we make everything out of recycled metal, and we source all of our metal from eco-friendly factories that don’t release any pollutants into the ground, water, or air. We also donate 10% of our products to Happy Hearts Fund, which goes to the victims of natural disasters. So it’s a full-circle effect of sustaining the environment, and then helping people that are victims of it. So the key necklace – by purchasing it – you help us and our causes, but you’re also showing that you have a cause important to your heart as well – that you have a key to change something and have a positive effect on the world. Eventually we’ll have a series of different charms, different symbols that mean different things. It’s about trying to give the wearer an opportunity to make a difference.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Olga: For me, every day is my greatest accomplishment. Working for Happy Hearts Fund and changing the lives of children around the world is the best job I could wish for, and also doing something creative – October Anniversary – as a hobby.
You are infamous for your whiskey-drinking…it’s even mentioned in your press kit.
Alexandra: Yes! You may wonder, how does the whiskey drinking and the partying fit into our aesthetic? Well, when we started this, we didn’t want to do some granola/eco-friendly line that would just be bland and remind people of potato sacks or something. We wanted to do something that was fashion forward, to show people that you can be eco-friendly and also be very creative and fashionable.
When we walk in anywhere – you know, from a deli to a designer boutique – everyone asks us where we got our rings, so it means that our work is appealing to many different kinds of people. So the idea of us going out and partying…a lot of the pictures of the jewelry are of our friends, out in the party scene because that’s what our lives are about. We wanted to capture this fun, New York street scene, and tell people that they can also make a difference in the world while also being fashionable – because that sometimes seems very difficult.
Olga: And also, one more thing is that neither of us studied jewelry design or anything to do with jewelry. That’s why our rings are very unique. Because we don’t go by the norms, we just create and learn from our mistakes, and create amazing rings.
Alexandra: We don’t set boundaries on ourselves, ever.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Olga: That is a hard one. I don’t think about it in very specific terms. I hope to just be happy, healthy, successful, and living life to the fullest.
What other things are you working on?
Olga: We are working on couple of collaborations, but those are secret.