Behind the Jewelry

Karen Moustafellos

Karen Moustafellos is the co-founder and CEO of EnA. Learn about how she and her husband, James Moustafellos, created a successful luxury fine jewelry company.

What is the inspiration behind your name, EnA/Elements and Alloys?

EnA has a dual meaning.  EnA is an abbreviation for Elements and Alloys.  EnA also means, “One,” in Greek.  One is a very significant number for our company.  “One” embodies our company’s tagline, “Designing Individuality.”  One also represents our first venture outside of architecture.

What is your company’s main design aesthetic and what materials do you primarily use?

EnA’s jewelry is thoughtful, minimal, geometric, contemporary, but also purposeful and elegant.  Our simple and spare designs also combine European sophistication with American ingenuity.

We use semi-precious and precious gemstones, 18k gold, sterling silver, and high-grade stainless steel.  We pride ourselves for being a sustainable company.  All of our metals are made from recycled materials and our jewelry is handmade or made in small production runs in the USA.

You and your husband, James, both have/had successful careers in architecture.  What compelled you both to start a jewelry company together? 

James and I both worked and were educated in very multi-disciplinary environments.  In addition to designing buildings, we had the opportunity to work on many interesting creative projects.  We designed everything from a picture frame that is part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, packaging for Frederic Fekkai, and lighting and  furniture design — as well as interiors — for luxury companies such as Chanel and Bottega Veneta.

By 2006, we were both frustrated architects.  We had grown tired of working on projects that would take over a year to complete.  We would spend so much time dealing with code reviews and accessibility issues, that we often didn’t get to do what we loved most — design and create.

We wanted to design something that had more immediate results and were naturally drawn to the accessibility of jewelry.  Jewelry design is very similar to architecture, but just on a smaller scale.  We love the fact that we are able to conceptualize and design a piece of jewelry and be able to see — and wear — the finished product in a fraction of the time.  We also enjoy having the opportunity to design luxurious items in fine metals that are wearable.

Design aside, what other skills do you utilize from your architectural background for EnA Fine Jewelry?  

An architect is like a conductor.  In addition to being a good designer, architects also have to have very strong management skills in order to be able to direct the engineers, general contractors, consultants, and owners of a specific project.  Dealing with all of those groups of people and realizing a vision of a project is like designing, manufacturing, and running a jewelry business.

When you decided to create a jewelry business, what did you two do to prepare for this endeavor?  

The architectural firm that my husband and I previously founded was research based, so we instinctively did a lot of research before we officially launched.  Although it was never our intention to make the pieces ourselves, we both took jewelry making classes so that we could understand the jewelry making process to make better designs.

Upon entering the 8th Annual Business Plan Competition of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, we immersed ourselves in research about the jewelry industry and business planning, business management, and entrepreneurialism.  Our hard work luckily paid off.  EnA ended up winning the grand prize!  The knowledge that we gained from the experience was invaluable and opened the door to many wonderful opportunities.

What are you and your husband’s roles in the company?  Have they changed over the years?

James was the initiator of the business.  Although we both collaborated and worked together on the business during its infancy, I was originally working more as an architect and he was the one designing the jewelry and running the business.  Ironically, when we met with a female lawyer to help us set up our business entities, she literally turned her back on James and spoke to me when it came time to discuss the formation of the jewelry business and spoke with him about the architecture firm. Stereotypes are hard to break!

I’m now the Chairman and CEO of EnA Fine Jewelry and run the daily operations of the business full time.  James is currently the co-founder and associate director of the Center for Design + Innovation and an assistant professor of management information systems at the Fox School of Business, Temple University.  Since he teaches full time, he mainly acts as a consultant for EnA.  We also still collaborate together on designing new jewelry pieces and he often assists me during trade shows and trunk shows.  I think that his current role in the company is very valuable and beneficial to me.  Now that he is not working on the nitty-gritty day-to-day aspects of running the business, he is able to see things with a fresh set of eyes and offer suggestions and helpful recommendations from a new perspective.

Please list some the company’s milestones that you are most proud of:

The cast of the popular USA Network television show, White Collar, wore our jewelry during their premiere season.

During NY Fashion Week, our jewelry was worn by models at the Carmen Marc Valvo fashion show.  The fashion show was broadcasted on Jumbotrons in Times Square!

We won two marketing awards from the Jewelers of America (one for Innovation and one for Fusion).

The World Gold Council honored EnA with the distinguished “Best of New Gold Jewelry Design” award in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

EnA won a business pitch competition from Count Me In.

We recently designed a commemorative pin for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Woman’s Board.  In honor of their 60 years of service to the museum, all past presidents and the current president received an 18k gold and oxidized sterling silver pin. The design was inspired by a railing detail from the museum’s dramatic Grand Staircase.  The renovation of the Grand Staircase would not have have possible without the board’s contributions and I am sure that they appreciated and cherished the  inspiration behind the pin’s design.  You can see the railing detail as well as the pin below.  We were very proud to have been selected by the board to design jewelry for this impressive group of women and are looking forward to working with other museums and philanthropic institutions in the future.

Art Institute of Chicago Woman's Board Pin - Designed by EnA Fine Jewelry