Student Wins People’s Choice Awards Design Contest

Nov 13, 2009 8:00am

ABC News on Campus reporter Emily Watkins blogs: Kaki Gaines, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, is receiving national recognition for her jewelry designs after winning the 2010 People Choice Awards design contest. Designer Kendra Scott helped create the contest, in which aspiring designers could create their own “statement necklace” to be worn during the live People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 6 and to be sold in stores nationwide. “This contest was really appealing to me because it gave me an opportunity to actually design the necklace, rather than physically making it,” said Gaines, 21. “I’ve been making my own jewelry since 2007, but I’ve never had any formal training on designing jewelry, so I thought I would try it out.” The contestants were able to download a custom-design program, where they could choose between different types of metals, chains, stone shapes and colors — all of which are based on Scott’s current line. “Kendra Scott uses stones that have vibrant colors and unique shapes, which is what sets her jewelry apart,” Gaines said. “I knew that if I won, my necklace design would be a part of her collection, so I kept that in mind. I also knew it would be something worn on the red carpet so I wanted to create something that would really stand out.” Scott announced the three finalists on Sept. 21, and submitted the designs for online voting. Gaines’ statement piece, which consists of seven turquoise teardrop pendants with black and orange accents on a gold chain, received more than 2,000 votes. “Kaki’s unique color combination was very risky but it was one that paid off. I was really intrigued by her ability to take a chance,” said Scott. “[The necklace] is a big piece and it’s loaded with stones. No one’s going to miss this piece on the red carpet.” After the winning design was announced on Oct. 5, Gaines was invited to Scott’s downtown loft and studio in Austin, where she got an in-depth look at her necklace design and got to work by Scott’s side for a day. “I was able to see my design come to life in the studio and help them finish creating the necklace, which was really cool,” Gaines said. “Kendra told me how she got started and really spent a lot of time giving me career advice.” Gaines and Scott are also designing a mini collection that they will pitch to retailers across the country. The mini collection is based on Gaines’ statement piece and will include a smaller necklace, cocktail ring, bracelet, pendant and a pair of earrings.    “I think Kaki’s incredibly talented and we’re definitely going to collaborate on future projects together,” said Scott. “She’s got a good eye and a great talent.” Gaines, who started her own jewelry line in 2007, called Kaki Designs, sells a variety of jewelry on her personal Web site and in Austin boutiques. After she graduates from UT in May, Gaines said she hopes to eventually start her own design company. “I want to make sure I understand every aspect that goes into having your own design company. Right now, I’m really trying to get my name out there so that my business will grow,” said Gaines. “This contest has opened a lot of doors for me and it’s allowed me to see how this business really works.” Gaines will attend the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles in January, and her winning design will be featured on the red carpet by Kendra Scott and one other celebrity, who has yet to be named.

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