March is all about celebrating women, and our newest FACE is someone who definitely deserves a parade. Lisa Stein, a former New York fashion designer, relocated to Atlanta more than 30 years ago. It was then that her overwhelming talent led to her current career as jewelry designer of the much-lauded line LA Stein. Though her professional and personal paths have seen obstacles like her current battle against breast cancer, Lisa is a fighter and exudes a spirit of perseverance, creativity and courage. Get to know our newest FACE of Atlanta, Lisa Stein, and what inspires her to do good for herself, her work, her family and all women.
You went from fashion design to jewelry design. Besides materials, how does your creative process differ when designing clothes vs. jewelry?
The creative process for jewelry includes materials (i.e. stones and gold). In addition, nature, flora and fauna inspire me. An example is my Panther Dog Tag — the panther is a symbol of strength, courage and resiliency. The colors in flowers inspire me constantly when working with colored stones. Another inspiration for my jewelry is ancient symbolism — my goddess piece, the compass and the hamsa amulet are examples of the power of ancient symbolism and how it informs my jewelry.
How did you end up in Atlanta from New York?
My husband relocated to Atlanta to practice medicine. At the beginning, the adjustment was challenging. I missed the excitement of New York City, but ultimately embraced the easier and more affordable lifestyle of Atlanta. One of the biggest adjustments to living in the South in the late ’80s was the lack of culture, restaurants, etc. Since then, Atlanta has evolved into an incredibly vibrant and diverse city!
What is your proudest work-related moment?
My proudest moments occurred when I landed my first stores: Tassels here in town, and then Jeffrey in New York. I continue to be proud of how many strong, talented and accomplished women collect my jewelry.
What is the most difficult part about balancing your successful jewelry line, LA Stein with raising three children?
My children are now adults, but when I first launched my collection, they were in school. In the beginning, I was able to take metalsmith classes while they were in school. As with any working mom, there is a lot of juggling involved, but I missed being in the workforce and loved having something of my own.
Who are your role models?
My role models are Norma Kamali, Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow for so successfully reinventing themselves.
Where can we find your amazing work in Atlanta?
Locally, my work is in Tassels in Buckhead and T. Boutique in John’s Creek.
What has been the most challenging time in your life and how did you overcome?
The most challenging time in my life was the untimely, catastrophic injury and subsequent death of my husband. My world changed overnight, and I had to earn a living, review relationships and manage my finances. I learned how to rely on myself.
More recently, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am currently going through chemotherapy. I know that I will conquer this as well, and I look forward to supporting others going through the same experience. I now know firsthand that it is possible to land on your feet, reinvent yourself and thrive in the world.
Where do you go in Atlanta to destress and blow off some steam?
I enjoy going on hikes and long walks with my dog. I also love Flywheel as well as working out at the Training Zone. I love dining out and sharing a great bottle of vino at some of the many fun and yummy new restaurants on the Westside and along the Beltline.
You speak about fighting for equal pay and empowering women. What was your level of excitement as the Time’s Up movement spread across industries? What do you think 2019 has in store for women?
At the beginning of my career, I was ambitious and working to get ahead as a sportswear designer in New York’s garment district. One day I found myself doing the work of the division head. I got up the gumption and walked into my boss’s office and said, “You need to double my salary.” His response was, “F— you, Stein!” Then the next day he gave me the raise. Soon I was making far more than most of my colleagues. That was 40 years ago! It bothers me that we are still having the conversation about equal pay. I pushed hard to make it happen for me, and I believe I can encourage others to do the same for themselves. It’s our right! I am optimistic that we are finally heading in the right direction for real change.
Where do you find inspiration and ignite your creative passions here in Atlanta?
My inspiration can come from Atlanta’s High Museum (I loved the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit), Atlanta Botanical Garden, our beautiful spring flora and fauna, the many historical aspects of Atlanta, including the Martin Luther King, Jr., legacy. I am doing more and more pieces with symbolism and meaning — Atlanta’s diverse and vibrant culture and people continuously inspire those pieces.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I am not big on preaching, but try to lead by example. My advice to anyone is to find the people and career that you love. It is also important to be in the present — celebrate those sweet moments with loved ones, while in a beautiful setting, reaping the fruits of your labor!
What are three things you cannot live without (excluding family, friends and faith)?
Being outdoors, reading a great book and delicious, fresh, healthy cuisine with a great glass of wine.
Our thanks to Lisa Stein for opening up about her life, her inspirations and what keeps her going. And as always, thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for today’s wonderful photos.
Meet more amazing Atlanta FACES in our archives. Click HERE.