SHAMBALLA JEWELS BY MADS

With a personal clientele of A-List celebrities like Karl Lagerfeld, Jay Z and Armani, Mads from Shamballa Jewels is a true artist. Mads came from modest beginnings, starting his career off as a photo assistant in New York City. Today he is one of the most sought after jewelers in the industry.

PHOTOGRAPHY & INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS

Imagista: How did you get into jewelry?

Mads: Well that is about a three hour talk, but we can do the short version. It came about here in New York City. I was living downtown and working as a fashion photography assistant, in about 1992-1993. I was working on my portfolio and I actually borrowed a lot of Indian hand braided silver jewelry and I decked out my nude model in them and I think it was the first time I really discovered that kind of jewelry that I would wear myself. I have always loved clothes and accessories so it came really natural. One thing led to another, I started travelling to various places, started creating my own pieces and here we are today.

Imagista: Where was your first store located?

Mads: My very first store was in Paris and after my partner and I split up I moved it to New York City. We then moved to Copenhagen after September 11th.

Imagista: Who was your first big client in America?

Mads: I had a few important clients but I remember before leaving New York Jay-Z came into the shop with a mutual friend looking for a bracelet. I suggested an Amala bracelet but he said he needed something more. At this time, Evan Yurman has just come back from boarding school and was just kind of hanging around at the David Yurman office and I told him to come down and hang out at my office on Thompson street instead. One day he came by the studio and I was playing around with these macrame braiding and I was not really getting it. Evan looked at me and told me he had learned how to do that at camp, and that was the first time I had braided a macrame bracelet, which has since become the world known Shamballa bracelet. I have been braiding ever since.

Imagista: What did you do when you went back to Copenhagen?

Mads: I opened up a store and actually opened a yoga studio. I hired ten teachers, I wanted to bring that yoga community to Denmark. I had the studio for three years together with a japanese tea bar and a jewelry store. After that is when I introduced the diamond ball to the shamballa bracelet which really took off.

Imagista: Who was your target demographic at the time?

Mads: I was making jewelry mainly for men, it still is my focus, however, we take the designs and make them smaller, to give them a more feminine feel which the women love. By putting a white diamond pave ball in the bracelet, the women went nuts and became 70 to 80 percent of our sales. It really all started with Jay-Z pushing me because he wanted something more than just a beaded bracelet, something different.

Imagista: How integral is yoga and meditation in your daily life? Do you meditate daily?

Mads: I do not do the full yoga or full meditation practice daily, because I do not have time between being a father and husband and running the business. I have not yet gotten the discipline of giving myself that one hour and a half everyday, I choose staying in my bed a little later. However, I do my daily stretches, my sun salutations, I do my twists, I do my headstands but I don’t do a full practice.

Imagista: How often are you in New York?

Mads: I have not been here for four years because we have a distributor here who got the rights to make the eyewear. Now that we have taken over the distribution I will be coming back more often.

Imagista: When you are not working, what are you doing?

Mads: In bed with my wife of twenty years!

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