Grad is Living Her Creative Dream as a Jewelry Designer at Brighton Collectibles
Born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles, Carmen Calderon loved to draw and put on fashion shows for her family from a young age. After taking a tour of FIDM shortly after graduating from high school, she knew she was in the right place to make her design dreams come true. Today, she’s a Jewelry Designer at Brighton Collectibles, an Industry Partner that participates in our Industry Expo and has welcomed FIDM Students and Alumni to their headquarters during an Open House.
As the daughter of two creative parents, she felt it was natural that she would become a designer. “Creating was my passion,” said Carmen, who joined Brighton in 2012 and currently resides in Orange County, California. “At FIDM, I learned time management and to be focused—to go at it 100 percent. I also learned that done is better than perfect.” She said another valuable lesson was learning that it pays off to do even the smallest and most insignificant tasks with excellence since nothing goes unnoticed.
As a Jewelry Designer, Carmen designs jewelry, including beads and charms, and the brand’s Amulet Collection. “I do market research,” she explained. “I get a lot of inspiration from vintage heirlooms and books.” Carmen mainly sketches by hand and uses Adobe Photoshop to clean and manipulate the designs. She then details the specifications and selects components such as Swarovski crystals. Those specs are sent overseas and she approves or revises the prototypes to be displayed for line pick.
“Every season we present new collections or add to our existing ones,” she said. “I get to present my new creations to our sales team and showcase the inspiration behind each piece.” Brighton also holds various events at their LA corporate office where designers share their collections and speak in detail about how they came to fruition. Carmen's designs are displayed in-store with her name next to them, which she said is a great feeling.
“What I love most about Brighton is that I get to be recognized as a designer,” she added. Brighton products are found at over 180 Brighton Collectible stores and in over 4,000 fine specialty boutiques or online. Carmen is one of three FIDM Grads currently working at the iconic accessories company. Famed FIDM Alumna Karen Kane got her start in the industry as a patternmaker at Brighton.
Carmen recalled hearing the stories of successful graduates working in the industry while she was a FIDM Student and hopes her own story can encourage others. “I would say never give up,” she said when asked what career advice she would share with aspiring designers. “Everything has its challenges at the beginning until you find your place. A little sacrifice and hard work goes a long way. Focus on your goal and eliminate distractions so you will get to your destination faster.”
Photo: Jeremy Rall