Chatting with Ivka Adam
Ivka Adam, Founder & CEO of Iconery
After the fashion eCommerce business Ivka was building was unexpectedly bought out, she saw an opportunity to act on an idea that had been brewing. Iconery was built on her passion for beautiful jewelry made by real artists and a deep understanding of the inner workings of eCommerce. Ivka Adam along with Andrea Linett and their powerhouse team have grown the business to be the online destination for well-made, gorgeous jewels. We caught up with the meditating, trailblazing (literally and figuratively), boss to learn how she got to where she is, and what has helped along the way.
Melissa: How did you come up with the idea for Iconery?
Ivka: I had worked at eBay where it had been a true marketplace and had also worked at another fashion e-commerce company, where we held inventory. It’s not a sexy story, but essentially I saw how many issues inventory caused, and I was like “what if you could create the ideal business model: one where you would produce the inventory on demand and have control of the customer experience.” With 3D printers, we could do this in jewelry.
Melissa: What sparked your passion for investment jewelry pieces?
Ivka: I have this natural affinity for jewelry because my grandmother was a great collector of pieces from around the world. My mom was also an amateur jewelry designer, so there is this innate passion.
M: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve been faced with since starting Iconery?
I: When something you know in your soul should work and doesn’t – it’s challenging to call it quickly and then iterate and keep reiterating and not let it get to you.
M: What did you think the first time someone said ‘no’ to you in business?
I: The first time I thought “wait a second, you don’t get it”. I tried to convince them and failed (and it just made me look desperate). But then I realized, “If you’re saying no, you’re probably not the right person for me, at least not right now”. The right mentality to have is to understand when it is just not the right fit, and that’s fine.
When I started the company, early on I said “I only want to work with people who are kind, cool, and connected. People that have something unique and interesting about them. People who are connected to their community, their world, their passions, their identity. Every investor and influencer we’ve had embodies that.
M: How many years have you been in business?
I: I started the business 4 years ago. I was working for this other company, Modnique, and I took 8 days off to hike the John Muir Trail, which is completely off the grid in the Eastern Sierras. The day I came out of the mountains I got a call from the CEO letting me know a private equity group took over and everyone was laid off. The idea for Iconery had been brewing, and I was like “I guess I’m doing this.” The John Muir Trail now represents this emotional thing for me because it’s been so much a part of me and it’s tied to this business.
I first reached out to Andrea Linett. She was sort of the first domino. Then between Karen (Iconery PR) and Andrea (Iconery Creative Director), we got our first 10 influencers, and they’ve all sort of come on after that.
To date, we’ve launched 21 collections with influencers and brands and sold these collections in Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Goop, Bando, and soon, REVOLVE!
M: How often do you hike the John Muir Trail trail? And how many miles have you hiked?
I: I’ve done it 4 times in the last 5 years. I average about 10-11km miles a day, but it’s usually a net gain of 3000 ft every single day. This summer I completed 110 miles with 6 passes in 10 days, culminating in my 5th Mt. Whitney summit.
M: Being the kickass boss you are, what do you do to unwind?
I: I practice Transcendental Meditation (TM). It’s a mantra-based meditation practice brought from India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 50’s. My parents learned about it in the 70’s and became TM teachers. You may have heard of it more recently because of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld all practice the technique. I meditate 50 minutes twice a day, but I’m not perfect…I don’t necessarily do this daily. Every year I go on a weeklong retreat where I meditate 6 hours a day.
I have an incredible team at Iconery that makes it possible for me to do this. By being able to leave, I come back rejuvenated and I also get to see where there are holes in our processes and who has really stepped up.
M: What is your favorite jewelry piece you’ve ever come across/made?
I: It’s the Stone Fox Bride Snake Ring. We knew we wanted to do a snake that represented sexuality in the Victorian era. Our incredible, award-winning CAD designer, Amy researched the way snakes move and articulate in order to translate this into gold. She was essentially carving in CAD the way the snake moved anatomically. This is not just someone slapping something together. This is beautiful craftsmanship.
M: What’s your favorite investment piece you own?
I: If I had to pick one, it would be my diamond ring. The mine-cut stone belonged to my grandmother and my mom designed the setting.
M: You’ve travelled around the world and hiked in some amazing areas. What is your favorite place to travel? Where else is on your bucket list?
I: I’m a creature of habit, so I love going back to the same place. Mount Whitney is my favorite place on Earth. I have attempted it 9 times, summited 6 times. Every time I go, there’s a familiarity with it but I also love seeing how I improve. The trips I do I usually do solo.
M: If we were to raid your closet, which accessory would we find the most of?
I: Jeans, Keds and flannels.
M: Gold or silver?
I: Yellow gold all the way!
M: What does a day in the life of Ivka Adam look like?
I: I’ll wake up, go to Soul Cycle, and meditate. I usually don’t get into the office until 9:30 am. After work, my boyfriend and I will cook together and usually go to bed really early.
M: Does he like hiking?
I: He is getting into it because of me. I’m taking him on his first Mt. Whitney attempt in September.
M: You have a pretty impressive resume. Aside from Iconery, what was your favorite position?
I: The last job I had before this was building this fashion e-commerce company (Modnique) and we were a fashion flash sale site, where we sourced regionally well-known brands from Spain, France, Russia, Australia, and all around the world. We would then bring them in and ship to 150 countries. 54% of our customers were international. I ran marketing, mobile development, and oversaw a third of the company. I worked closely with the CEO and it was incredible to build something and wear so many hats.