THIS HOUSE OF HAUTE JEWELRY IN RED BANK IS CELEBRATING A DECADE OF GARNISHING THE CELEBRITIES, SOCIALITES, PROMINENT PLAYERS, AND TRENDSETTERS OF NEW JERSEY’S STYLE SCENE – AND ACCORDING TO ITS OWNER, THE BEST IS YET TO COME
BY BLUE SULLIVAN • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE HAIR BY YANNI ERBELI SALON RED BANK MAKEUP BY COS BAR RED BANK
As regulars walk through the door at 69 Broad Street in Red Bank, they don’t ask owner Krista Karagias or her dedicated team for a new piece of jewelry, they ask, specifically, for a “Poor Cat.” Since its circa-2012 genesis as a haute jewelry house, the women-led brand has become an icon, an instantly recognizable symbol sought out by celebrities, socialites, and arbiters of style in New Jersey and beyond.
The idea behind Poor Cat Designs is intriguingly enigmatic, described as: “Symbols denote what we desire them to be,” delineated Karagias on Poor Cat’s website. “Anything and everything can be infused with meaning. Poor Cat finds its following in this belief. Having already captivated the devotion of rock stars, celebrities, teenage trendsetters, and prominent players in the design, architecture, and fashion world, Poor Cat is ready to inspire a larger audience. Where humility graces luxury, Poor Cat perches.”
This harmonious blend of humility and luxury takes form via handcrafted jewelry chiseled from solid precious metals, gemstones, and raw materials like natural hide leather. The designs are ethereal in form, divided into categories like celestial, animals, equestrian, Zodiac, love, luck, friendship, and more.
“Our jewelry designs draw inspiration from our very talented stylists/ designers and our loyal customers, as well as from the beauty we see in everyday life,” noted Karagias. “All of our pieces are hand-crafted using solid sterling silver, solid 18K yellow, rose, and white gold, and platinum. Many of our pieces contain genuine full-cut diamonds, black diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies as well as some semi-precious stones.”
The Poor Cat experience is highly individualized, explained its owner. Karagias is surrounded by a small but mighty team (Leigh Elliott, general manager, and Alyssa Horch, assistant manager, along with her business partner, Joseph Romanowski), whom work one on one with each client to pick the perfect piece to reflect their personal style. They also offer bespoke services.
“One of the things that sets us apart from other jewelry brands is our hand engraving,” noted Karagias. “Hand engraving allows for a high degree of customization, making each piece a unique piece of art. Clients can personalize their jewelry with meaningful messages, handwriting, symbols, or monograms.”
This level of personalization allows the Poor Cat team to collaborate with their clients, working together to imagine one-of-a-kind investment pieces that can’t be found anywhere else.
“Our most popular and most unique are our personalized pieces,” she said. “Everyone has a story, and we love designing and creating one-of-a-kind pieces for our clients. Our favorite thing about being jewelry designers is the opportunity to turn our creative visions, or yours, into tangible, wearable art that brings joy and happiness to people’s lives.”
Karagias, Elliott, and Horch work in tandem to help clients complete their looks, each bringing her unique voice and individual flair to the table.
“Our personal styles inform the jewelry by allowing clients to emulate a certain look based on what pieces we all are wearing,” said the owner. “We take this as a humble compliment. Each stylist has her own style. Clients always ask to see what each of us are wearing.”
When asked about the process behind the designs, Karagias responded with a great measure of pride as she detailed how much time and care goes into creating each piece.
“Designing a new piece of jewelry starts with research and sketching,” said Karagias. “We then create a wax prototype, refine it, and finally handcraft the piece in the desired metals with meticulous attention to detail. On average, it takes about 10-15 hours to create a single piece of jewelry, from concept to finished product. Complex
Karagias is particularly proud of the quality and fine workmanship of each ring, bracelet, and necklace that leaves the work bench.
“We ensure the quality of our jewelry through rigorous quality control checks at every stage of production,” she said. “Each piece is inspected for craftsmanship and beauty before it reaches our customers.”
Karagias was quick to point out the joy that goes into each new piece.
“We are so much more than a jewelry store,” she explained. “Poor Cat is an experience. The team behind the logo lives and breathes this brand. We understand that jewelry is deeply personal, often marking significant moments in our customers’ lives. Our designs spark personal connections with our customers and often evoke pleasant, meaningful feelings and memories.”
Over the past few years, brick-and mortar retail has taken a hit, primarily fueled by a rise in online shopping and it was only exacerbated by the pandemic. According to Karagias, Poor Cat has been able to weather the transition with ease. One reason, she said, is its first class customer service.
“Great customer service is the cornerstone of success for a jewelry brand, as it not only ensures sales but also fosters long-term relationships and a stellar reputation.”
Karagias noted she and her team are always brainstorming new ways to innovate and improve the customer experience. When asked what’s next on the horizon, she said, “Our future plans include expanding our online presence as well launching our new laser-engraved collection that will be available exclusively online. We offer complimentary U.S. shipping on all new orders over $100. Worldwide shipping is also available.”
Today, 11 years after the first Poor Cat left the work bench and marked the birth of an icon, the ever-growing brand continues to pay homage to its loyal tribe of fans, and the feline who inspired a movement.
“Poor Cat Designs is a tribute to a once stray cat who appeared during a time when the brand was just becoming established,” added Karagias. “The beloved Felix lived a very long and happy life with Joseph.”
Poor Cat Designs
69 Broad Street, Red Bank
732.842.3121 / poorcatdesigns.com