Diana Warner (photo taken from myspace.com)

Shortly after writing about Diana Warner’s “Fight Like the Gladiator” t-shirts, I caught up with the jewelry and accessory designer at her new Gramercy boutique to see first hand just what makes Diana Warner Studio “the happiest little boutique in New York City.”

As I entered Diana Warner’s unique boutique, I was immediately greeted by both a welcoming staff and warm interior. Not surprising since Diana’s younger brother, an architect helped her design the store. “When I first moved to the city, my brother and I would walk around to look at different buildings and he’d give me lessons on the architecture.” Diana reminisced about her college days when her and her brother lived right across from each other “it’s hysterical that a lot of our work actually coincides… we are definitely on the same page mentally and aesthetically.”

Diana Warner's boutique on East 21st Street (taken from dianawarnerstudio.com)

As Diana showed me around, it became evident to me that Miss Warner really puts herself wholly into everything she does. “We still have some work to do with the place” said Diana as she showed me all of the handcrafted pieces made from reclaimed wood, a Romanian hutch from the 1930’s, and even a Mexican bar. With the boutique’s occasional cocktail evenings, you can be sure the bar is still getting plenty of use.

Diana with a client wearing bySMITH (taken from dianawarnerstudio.com)

While looking around at the wonderful assortment of clothing and jewelry in the store, its difficult not to notice the occasional Gossip Girl still photos scattered about. Diana’s jewelry is starting to become more of a frequent guest star on the hit series than Taylor Momsen. Diana’s pieces have been featured on the show since that famous Thanksgiving flashback scene during season one between Blake Lively and Penn Badgely. Other celebrities who have updated their look with the  Diana Warner touch include Kelly McRae, Rachel Ray, Natasha Bedingfield and America’s Next Top Model Whitney Thompson. In fact, Natasha Bedingfield can be seen wearing Diana’s Disco Ball Earrings in her new collaborative video with Rascal Flatts for the song “Easy.”

Blake Lively as Serena Van der Woodsen in Diana's Tere earrings (video still from the CW's Gossip Girl)
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Taylor Momsen as Jenny Humphrey in Diana's Stephanie Cross Necklace (taken from fanbolt.com)

“She was actually the very first celebrity who wore my stuff” recalls Diana “when she wore one of my necklaces to a red carpet event. Initially I had no idea what she looked like since I had only heard her on the radio.” Diana laughed “she has such a powerful voice I really thought she was going to be a bigger woman!”

A delighted customer shared her enthusiasm for Diana’s celebrity clientele when the designer greeted her and welcomed the women into our conversation. Thats right, Diana is personally at her store every day (or at least it seems) meeting and greeting her varied customers. This is partially because she and her creative team work skillfully in the back of the boutique assembling the company’s jewelry to sell both in the store, and ship out to wholesale buyers all around the country.

Next, I was ushered over to a wall covered with vibrant scarves by my enthusiastic hostess “and here are the fashionABLE scarves we carry.” Diana explained that profits made from sales of the scarves directly affect and support women in Ethiopia who were formerly forced into prostitution. And thanks to people like Barrett Ward, the founder of The Mocha Club( a charitable organization that provides basic necessities to the people of Africa),  fashionable people like you can help create sustainable business for people in a country where half of it’s population is currently living in extreme poverty. The numbers in Ethiopia’s capital city alone are overwhelming; in Addis Ababa, over 150,000 women are involved in prostitution. The scarves in Diana Warner’s boutique are hand made by women in the capital city who have been given a chance at rehabilitating both their lives and pride. It was easy to see Diana’s passion for this project as she went on “… another neat thing is that each scarf comes tagged with a handwritten note saying because of you, I am able to able to send my son to school, to feel dignity in my work… it’s really a wonderful organization.” And the price? “…the great thing is they are so affordable” said Diana “the scarves are $22 $28 $32 and $38, so they also make a great gift!” And Diana’s pick? “Amethyst- the color of my soul!” You can watch the fashionABLE women’s stories online by clicking HERE.

one the many fashionABLE scarves available at Diana Warner Studio

“Then we have our tie collection!” exclaimed Diana. “The cool thing about my upcoming tie collection is they’re Italian silk, they’re made in Manhattan and bagged in fashionABLE bags made out of organic cotton from Ethiopia so they’ll also be giving back.” She went on to explain the that the boxes for the ties will say “Italian silk, made in America, affecting Africa.”

Diana's "Eric tie" in purple
"Eric" is also available in orange and goes perfect with Diana's cufflinks

In addition to the amazing fashionABLE items in her store, Diana’s Obligato Collection (necklaces and earrings between the cost of $50 and $62) provides 10 Africans with clean water for an entire year. I quickly realized that an hour with Diana Warner was just as uplifting and inspiring as a Don Miguel Ruiz book. As we meandered about, she showed me more of her amazing jewelry and pointed out the jacoboheme.com favorite bySMITH Collection pieces she carries in her store.  In the back, where her associates busily work to assemble jewelry and ship out many of the store’s items, its easy to pick out Diana’s desk. Why? The creative clutter may have given it away, but what I most liked about her work space, was the sign hanging above her desk in bright red party letters that spelled “joie de vivre.” It is this “joy of life” that is not only apparent when you walk in the store, it’s contagious.

The Obligato Necklace

Diana Warner New York is located at 42 East 21st Street New York NY, 10010. Be sure to stop by and see for yourself why this is truly the “happiest little boutique in New York City!”

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