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We recently met up with Candice Pool Neistat in LA to get the real-deal story behind her cult-favorite jewelry lines Finn and Billy! Candice’s original, beloved line Finn features timeless, fancy-lady pieces fashioned in 18 karat ‘green gold’ and diamonds, while Billy! represents her tougher, more tomboyish side with everyday unisex slip-on chains as well as playful merch like graphic tees and totes. As we learned, Candice’s journey as a self-taught designer and massive jewellery fanatic is as varied as her signature designs.
MELISSA: You’re originally from South Africa, but you grew up in Texas and you spent most of your adult life in New York City. Tell me about how you made it out to California and how you originally started your jewelry line?
CANDICE POOL: Well, I didn’t study jewelry at all. My first job in New York was as a bartender and my coworker wanted to start a jewelry line. I was like “ok, let’d do it!” And that’s how it started. She had some jewelry training, but I had none so it was my job to run the business end. I don’t know if we had Google back then, I might have done a Yahoo search for how to start a business. And that’s that! Fast forward 15-20 years and here we are.
MELISSA: Walk me through your different lines. Is there any sameness between them or are they totally separate? Where did the names come from?
CANDICE POOL: I have Finn and Billy!. They’re totally separate. With Finn, we didn’t want a name that was eponymous. A lot of jewelry lines are named after the designer. I didn’t want anyone to associate me or my style with this jewelry brand. What if they don’t like how I dress? Maybe they won’t like my jewelry. So, Finn has always been about pretty things; champagne, macaroons, pink.
And then I had my daughter and I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. This is too much.’ I thought about shutting it down, but that wasn’t wise because it was doing really well. But I need another outlet. Finn felt too precious for me at that moment. At that point, I was only wearing my husband’s t-shirts and sweatshirts and sweaters and I felt frumpy since having a baby. I stopped dying my hair. I used to have a manicure every 2 weeks, but now I couldn’t even wear polish. I needed to simplify. I wanted just one piece of jewelry to wear. What is it that when you have a kid all of a sudden you want their name and letters on everything? I didn’t like all the name necklaces that were out there, but I really wanted something both my husband and I could wear—something long that could slip over my head and not as fancy as Finn.
Billy is 14 karat gold, not 18 karat. You can wear it every single day. And it’s only sold online, simple, and really easy. The fun thing is that once I spent that year developing Billy, I was ready to go back to Finn.
MELISSA: Billy represents a change in your lifestyle then. Is there anything in the Billy collection you love seeing sold? Do you love all of the merch items as much as the necklace or permanent bracelet?
CANDICE POOL: I love the chain necklaces, and also the permanent bracelets. Those we only do at our studio and pop up events.
MELISSA: Is there anything particular you wear while working? Do you have anything you always love wearing?
CANDICE POOL: Birkenstocks are my go-to right now. Even in New York, I’ll wear them with wool socks when it’s cold. It’s kinda scary how many I have. Now that I’m in California I’m getting into Vans slides.
A lot of jewelry lines have the designer’s name. I didn’t want anyone to associate me or my style with this jewelry brand because if they don’t like how I dress, maybe they won’t like my jewelry.
MELISSA: We know you love the beach. How do you like living in Venice by the beach and are there any particular items you always take with you? A bag, a towel, a hat?
CANDICE POOL: I’m really bad about being prepared for the beach—especially with kids. It was easy when I went by myself with a sheet, but now I need to remember sunblock and extra diapers and snacks. We go to Venice, right near here. They have everything!
MELISSA: Will you be missing New York in the fall season, or will you be loving California in your Birkenstocks?
CANDICE POOL: I’m missing New York right now. I’m homesick. I was there 19 years and became an adult there.
MELISSA: Why the move?
CANDICE POOL: My husband was burnt out and ready for a change and all our family ended up here in the last 5 years. My sister lives in Ocean Park. My sister-in-law is also in Ocean Park. My brother-in-law is in Topanga; he moved here a year ago and has a baby. My other brother-in-law lives in West Hollywood and my parents just moved here 2 years ago, so I was like, okay, I need to be near family.