We chatted with renowned writer and cook, Alicia Kennedy, about our recent collaboration, by ren x Alicia Kennedy.
Q: Alicia, we're thrilled to have collaborated with you on this collection. Can you share how this collaboration came to fruition?
I was absolutely honored and floored that you had the idea to collaborate. You had worked with my now-husband on my engagement ring and wedding band, and in that, created two pieces that fit together and were so stunning, so unique to me. Seeing my taste reflected in those rings brought me to a new understanding of the role of jewelry and adornment. When you reached out to collaborate, it was a no-brainer, because your approach to design is so in line with what I find beautiful.
Q: When we were discussing design themes for this collaboration, a few different topics came up. Could you share more about the inspiration behind this capsule collection?
As a writer, I feel I struggle often with creating a cohesive visual aesthetic and communicating visually—your interest in and understanding of my food photos as a point of inspiration made me feel very seen, and the pieces themselves are such a perfect reflection of the organic, lived-in approach I take to research, writing, cooking, and photography. Oysters, pearls, and the sea in general are such a significant aspect of my story and my life, and this is so well-reflected in the pieces.
Q: We're curious to know which pieces resonate with you the most. Are there any favorites you'd like to share?
The oyster ear cuff is such a unique and stunning piece that I love, as someone without pierced ears—I've been too focused on tattoos to get them done after they closed up when I was a kid. It's been so fun to get to adorn my ear. The peas in a pod ring, too, is now something I wear daily. It's just an easy piece that is quietly complex in its shape.
Q: The intersection of food and personal style is a unique aspect of this collaboration. Could you share your perspective on how it bridges that gap?
To cook, to write recipes, to style food, is always going to be a reflection of personal style. Mine is minimal, a little off-kilter. I like to wear a very simple, almost conservative, structured dress with 6-inch platform boots, for example. I always want an element to feel surprising but cohesive in my outfits, as well as in my food. Something off-kilter is what brings balance, to my mind. I see that reflected in this jewelry collection, as well: the rough-edge of an oyster shell becomes the inspiration for a stunning ear cuff; the ear threads have a mismatched number of pearls. It's a thoughtful insouciance that is so chic and brings an element of surprise to even the simplest looks.
Q: The slow-fashion handmade and made-to-order aspects are key features of the collection. Why is it important to you to work with independent designers and smaller brands?
I am not interested in working with anyone whose work is not sustainable and doesn't have a human touch. The connection between the aesthetics of food and its sustainability is a main facet of my food writing, and so I take this same approach to style and jewelry: If it is contributing to harm, whether of the environment, people, or animals, it can't be beautiful.
Q: We'd love to hear any anecdotes or stories about your own experiences with jewelry and what it means for you personally. Alicia, do you have any you'd like to share?
As a kid, I loved to buy chunky resin and beaded hemp rings from the flea market and eventually had one on each of my ten fingers. I was so obsessed with them that if I lost one at recess, I would be freaking out. I also had a heart necklace that I would add to ceaselessly, even putting little scraps of paper that I liked onto safety pins to turn that into charms. I was a young maximalist! I've certainly pared things down.