SHK gets rowdy with handcuffs and an EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT only for SHK readers!

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Inspiration can come from almost anywhere. It can be that big idea which comes to you on a holiday or hits you when you’re walking down the street. Sometimes, inspiration can even come from a night out on the town. Fortunately for Cuffs by Chiara, this is exactly how the small business was formed. The story goes a little something like this: after police became involved with a birthday night out, the designer of the NYC-based accessories brand was “unjustly handcuffed.” Inspired by the shiny shackles donning her wrists, she had that light-bulb moment of inspiration we talked about earlier, which would later become Cuffs by Chiara. Luckily, SHK had the chance to gather the latest scoop from Chiara on owning a small business a la NYC vs. London and handcuffs, of course. — ROBIN REETZ

SHK: ACCORDING TO YOUR WEBSITE, CUFFS BY CHIARA GOT ITS START AFTER A WILD NIGHT ON-THE-TOWN WHERE YOU ENDED UP IN HANDCUFFS. COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS STORY?

CHIARA: I was out with some of my best friends for my birthday and ended up convincing a police officer that his shiny, new pair of handcuffs would be a great addition to my outfit!

HOW DID YOU TAKE THAT EXPERIENCE AND TURN IT INTO THE CONCEPT BEHIND YOU BRAND?

It really just started as a playful joke, but I immediately saw the potential of transforming the function of handcuffs into really simple, chic pieces of jewelry.

YOU STUDIED AT THE LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION. TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE TO YOU IN THE NEW YORK AND LONDON FASHION COMMUNITIES?

My experience at LCF played such a crucial part in who I am as a designer now. My style is very New York, but I found London fashion to be less judgmental and more open to a person’s sense of individual style and not so focused on trends. I think it is important in everybody’s personal style to wear what they love and what makes them feel good. Whenever I am asked for fashion advice, I always make sure to include that open mindset.

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TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. HAVE YOU ALWAYS ASPIRED TO DESIGN YOUR OWN FASHION LINE?

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a designer. I am the youngest of four children, and my older siblings are in health and finance. I remember at a young age being obsessed with fashion and was never really interested in anything else. I started altering my clothes when I was nine, and by high school, the majority of my wardrobe were pieces I had designed and created for myself. My friends were constantly borrowing my clothes for formal parties, and eventually people started asking me to make them dresses. I went to college for design, and the rest is history.

I OFTEN HEAR ABOUT THE STRUGGLES THAT NEW FASHION AND ACCESSORY DESIGNERS HAVE WITH PRODUCTION.  SINCE ALL OF YOUR PIECES ARE SOURCED AND MANUFACTURED IN NEW YORK, WHY WAS BEING IN NY MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

New York is where my dream of becoming a designer began, and the city is a constant source of inspiration to me. Being made in New York is part of the brands DNA, so having each of my designs manufactured in the city is really important to me.

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WHAT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF OWNING A SMALL BUSINESS?

As a small business owner, it is very difficult to stop working, even after leaving the office. I struggle finding a balance between my work, personal life and time for myself!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE, AND HOW DO YOU BRING THAT INSPIRATION TO THE DESIGN PROCESS?

Living in New York City provides inspiration for me everyday by the energy and adventure it has to offer everyone. The spontaneity of the city is what inspires me.

IF YOU COULD SEE ANYONE WEARING A CUFFS BY CHIARA PIECE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

My dream would be to cuff Daniel Day Lewis!

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CURRENTLY, YOUR FOCUS IS ON CUFFS. ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO EXPAND TO OTHER ACCESSORIES? DO YOU HAVE AN ULTIMATE GOAL FOR THE LINE?

I do have plans for expanding the cuff concept, but we are currently still in the design process. The line will evolve from handcuffs, but the function will remain the same. Cuffs by Chiara is about being spontaneous, so where it will expand will always remain true to that concept.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE SHOULD BE…

SEEN: The Unbearable Lightness of Being starring Daniel Day Lewis, of course.

HEARD: “Il cielo in una stanza” by Mina.

KNOWN: The art of cuffing.

Experience Italian ’60s Glamor in “Il cielo in una stanza” by Mina via malapecora

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