The same week that Clare Ngai quit her role as a talent manager to devote herself full time to her very young jewelry brand, Kylie Jenner wore her earrings.
“I’m kind of a spiritual person. I just felt like all the stars lined up, ”Ngai said. It was in March. Ngai has been building BonBonWhims since August 2020. Since then, the brand’s colorful Y2K-inspired balls have popped up on the wrists, ears and necks of celebrities and taste makers at a steady pace. And, all things considered, it didn’t take long for one of the world’s most influential stars, Jenner, to garner attention for the brand. Ngai attributes the brand’s growth, in part, to the expertise she honed in her experience working with influencers and before that, working on the digital strategy for CoverGirl.
Ngai said she had always loved making jewelry and had even tried to launch a brand before. But the unique circumstances of the pandemic allowed him to do so. She not only had more time, but also felt a strong desire to create a career in which she was able to give back, be creative, and overall feel more fulfilled. As a result, she built the brand to have an element of rendition, and the launch over the summer, shortly after the Black Lives Matter protests peaked, provided an opportunity to do so.
“I was at home booking paid offers for influencers. It was so frivolous… when there was much bigger stuff going on in the world, ”Ngai said. “Being a person of color really made me feel like, ‘OK, maybe I can also use my brand as a platform to talk and fundraise for organizations that benefit BLM or BIPOC organizations. ”
At that time, the brand didn’t even have a website; Ngai was just doing jewelry sales through DM. People would contact Instagram, based on Ngai’s posts, asking her to make personalized charm necklaces. She achieved this, sending photos of each individual charm at a time and letting customers choose what they wanted. On November 11 (Singles Day), she launched a website and donated a portion of her Day 1 proceeds to Send Chinatown Love, a grassroots organization supporting businesses and residents of Chinatown. In honor of Black History Month in February, the brand donated 100% of the profits from its Special Edition Lucky Charm Ring in Green & Red Heart at GirlTrek, a nonprofit public health organization for African American women and girls.
The brand has not done paid advertising, apart from testing requiring minimal investment. His Instagram page is quickly approaching 24,000 subscribers. Ngai said the Instagram accounts that track and tag the brands Kylie wears have led to increased subscribers and sales.
BonBonWhims’ now ubiquitous rings were introduced in January and their affordable price (between $ 38 and $ 88) helped to further expand the brand’s reach. Ngai said much of his audience is made up of millennials, but some Gen Zers are getting introduced to the brand by their mothers. (Ngai said an article in the City Country If stars like Jenner are giving the brand a boost, Ngai said micro-influencers, and even normal people with loyal followers, also boosted sales. The playful, colorful and whimsical balls have made appearances on TikTok: User @socosophsoco, a micro-influencer with nearly 29,000 followers on TikTok, posted a visit to the studio in Ngai’s West Village in April. The post got 20,000 likes and, Ngai said, generated countless DMs.
When Jenner’s stylist, Jill Jacobs’ team reached out, “Of course, I responded immediately and sent in a whole collection of what I had at the time,” Ngai said. “I had no expectations. It’s Kylie. She has so many options to choose from, from big brands to small brands. A month passed before Jenner posted an image wearing the BonBonWhims PopDrop earrings (enamel coated earrings that look like tabs from soda cans). “So I just had a heart attack, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing,’” Ngai said of the game-changing moment. Ngai saw a gradual increase in sales for the style in the weeks following Jenner’s post.
Ngai said timing is a crucial factor in the brand’s success. “People really want something positive and happy – just, like, good vibes during a global pandemic,” she said. She called BonBonWhims – the name is a mixture of ‘bonbon’, French for sweets and ‘whims’, short for whimsical – a welcome distraction: “[People want] something so colorful and shiny that takes their minds off dealing with Covid. ”
She added that there had also been a huge comeback of the ’90s to 2000s aesthetic that served the brand well. “Coupled with my background in this industry and my right understanding of the digital world and how to harness it, it’s like this perfect storm of everything coming together.”
Just hours after Glossy spoke with Ngai for this story, Ariana Grande wore a BonBonWhims ring. Ngai is friends with the two jewelers who made Grande’s engagement ring and they passed the company’s products on to her fiancé. Grande’s fan accounts were on DM’ing Ngai before she even had a chance to post about it. Grande posted a photo showing the ring in both her stories and flow, instantly sparking a new wave of media coverage for this burgeoning brand.