How Emily Faith Strauss got her jewelry from her local hair salon to the red carpet

Emily Faith Strauss saw a space in the fine jewelry market for “approachable-priced, thoughtfully designed pieces” and filled it with her sparkling huggie earrings and stackable pendant necklaces. Her pieces are worn by celebrities and non-celebrities alike, and add the perfect amount of shimmer and shine to any look. On this episode of In The Know Style: Changemakers, the jewelry designer talks about her company, EF Collection (@efcollection), her design process, and her Angels 4 Austin initiative, which honors her late son. 

Strauss launched EF Collection in 2010 after she saw “a void in the marketplace for delicate, 14 carat jewelry.” But her pieces didn’t go straight to the red carpet. “I was actually offered an opportunity to sell some of my pieces at my local hair salon,” recalls Strauss. “That actually turned into three years.”

Strauss admits that making your stamp in the jewelry industry isn’t always easy, and shares that being introduced to jewelry public relations specialist, Margo Siegel, was a big game changer for the EF Collection. 

“She’s kind of the link between the designer and the celebrity and the stylist,” Strauss says of Siegel. And it was through working with Siegel that Strauss got her first big celebrity endorsement. “I remember I was in Rome and I looked at my phone and Jessica Alba was wearing my diamond zigzag rings, and I was screaming,” Strauss says of the big moment. 

Of course, EF Collection isn’t just worn by celebrities. From the beginning, Strauss set out to “make jewelry that people can wear every day and layer and not think about, and wear from a workout to a lunch, to a business meeting, to dinner, to a wedding,” Siegel shares of Strauss’ pieces. 

One thing that sets EF Collection apart from other jewelry companies is how Strauss shares her personal life through the brand’s social media. “Through social media, through Instagram, I’ve been able to give more of a lifestyle perspective to the brand,” explains Strauss. 

However, Strauss admits, social media can be a “double-edged sword” in difficult times “because you want to share…but how do you share?” 

Strauss faced this conundrum head on when her son, Austin, passed away after he was diagnosed in utero with polycystic kidney disease. “After my son passed, jewelry took on a new meaning for me,” Strauss shares. “I’ve been really challenged in a way that I never anticipated, but being able to open up and share this dialogue and have such incredible support from my EF Collection following, I never knew the way that they could in turn comfort me and be there for me and support me.” 

Strauss and her husband created a foundation, Angels 4 Austin, which “provides small comforts and supportive resources for the families of premature or sick infants, and for those who have been affected by infant loss.” Angel 4 Austin’s first initiative was with baby clothing and accessories company, Angel Dear, who created adorable “lovies” which “are these soft little blankets [or plushies] that the parents can cuddle with. And when they can’t be with their children in the NICU, they give them to their baby and they’re comforted by their scent,” explains Strauss. 

While her jewelry journey hasn’t always been easy, Strauss still loves what she does. “I hope that in 10, 15, 20 years, I’m still doing what I love, which is creating jewelry, creating smiles, creating special gifts, special moments,” says the jewelry designer. “It’s not always gonna be a joy ride. It’s not always gonna be perfect. It’s not always gonna be easy. Like my dad always said, ‘If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.’ Enjoy the ride, enjoy the journey, and enjoy the process.”

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