Ocean Drive Interview
Authentic And Fabulous: Sahar Manley Talks About The Modus Operandi Behind Her Successful, Affordable High-End Jewelry
High-end jewelry made authentic and accessible is what Sahar Manley, founder of Camilla Seretti, wanted for her iconic brand. Her end goal? To help people feel fabulous even on their worst days.
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Camilla Seretti, Sahar's alter ego for whom she named her jewelry line, has taken the editorial world by storm in just two years, securing covers in some of the world's most respected editorial magazines, including Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. These pieces are unlike any other accessories on the market because they are hand-crafted in a unique and meticulous way. Every item is high-end, on-trend, and timeless, making it possible to find something suitable for any event. Her luxury jewelry brand has become a staple for A-listers on the red carpet and in their daily lives.
Sahar only designs 20 pieces per collection, guaranteeing a level of exclusivity yet affordable. She is a single mother who cares about everyone around her and thrives on a solid work ethic and working hard. She has made a name for herself, and if you ever admire jewelry in some of the most fabulos magazine covers, it's probably a Camilla Seretti piece.
What inspired you to open a jewelry line?
Sahar Manley: I just love being feminine. I love being fabulous. I love dressing up, and a lot of women are not comfortable with that. And so I remember when I was at Rolls Royce, anyone I talked into buying a car was always so happy because you need a little boost of confidence to get into your fabulous self. And I used to wear a lot of stuff my whole life. I've worn lots of real jewelry, so I started a real jewelry line. I made a bunch of diamond jewelry, but it was obviously high-end, so not many people could afford it. I started selling it to many women I knew, the wives next door, and I thought I wanted to do the same thing but make it costume so everyone could afford it. And that was the whole, you know, modus operandi behind it.
So I started designing everything like my favorite diamond pieces—a little twist to it and making it costume-made. My mom's from Turkey, and she helped me find the best vendors in Turkey because they have high quality there. I wanted to keep it good quality but at a really low price. So I just started making my favorite pieces. I began with bracelets because I like to wear them, and all the women I knew at Rolls Royce or real estate loved them too. So I started making fancy bracelets that looked amazing. I kept the price at $200 to $300. I never had a website or an Instagram. I would just walk into places, and it was like word of mouth. I would walk into the Four Seasons to get a massage, and they would say, 'Oh, I love your jewelry,' and I'm like, it's my line. The Beverly Hills Hotel asked if they could sell it, and they started selling it.
How did COVID impact your brand?
Sahar Manley: So I was at high-end hotels, selling quite a bit every month, and then when COVID happened, everything closed. I was sad no one could see my stuff. So during COVID, I got a two-bedroom condo next door, made it into an office, and worked like seven days a week, 18 hours a day. My daughter didn't go to school, so it was great. Then one day, I got a phone call, 'do you want to come to do a pop-up shop in Century City Mall?' So I had like seven days to get everything together. And I did a little pop-up shop, and it just took off.
I met Christine Quinn on the Vogue cover, and my jewelry got on the cover of Retreat Magazine. Magazines started using my jewelry on their covers. KTLA came in, and they did an article 'this lady has jewelry for under $350' because that was my thing. I wanted everything to be affordable. Inspire women that don't wear jewelry to start wearing it.
How do you put your personality and who you are into your jewelry collections?
Sahar Manley: Everything, it's very me. It's very loud; It's very fun; It's very showy. But sometimes, I have moments where I'm not all out there. I'm sad, or I'm quiet or insecure. And I remember I don't wear a lot of jewelry in those days, but I still wear jewelry. And so, I create smaller pieces that are also me. My daughter and I play Polo, and I still want to wear earrings when I play. So I created a whole Polo collection. I have a bunch of earrings and bracelets that are small and dainty enough to wear while playing Polo. So I make my jewelry for my lifestyle.
What's your favorite collection so far?
Sahar Manley: I have so many favorites. The Seretti necklace is my namesake necklace, and I designed those with JLo in mind. I've never designed for anyone in mind besides myself and, just, generally speaking, women. So that necklace I designed for JLo in mind, and I named it Seretti necklace because that's my company name, so that's probably the most extraordinary piece to me. I love wearing it, and I can't wait to get JLo to wear it because it will happen. I've never gone after any celebrity. I've never reached out to a celebrity, but for JLo, I'd do anything. She and Blake Lively are my only two wardrobe idols.
As a woman entrepreneur, how do you inspire your daughter? And what does it mean to be a mom and, you know, balance work with life
Sahar Manley: My daughter has gone on every business trip with me, and during COVID, she was out of school. So we traveled to every trade show and every state for two years. I would go to hotels and bring my kid. She just saw everything; she's worked every trade show with me. And she needs to see that. The most important part for me, besides having women be fabulous, and as my company grows, is that I get to support other people. For three years, I had a team of only three people, and now I have a team of 12, and that's brand new for me; it's fantastic. But I told her I'm so proud that I get to support 12 people's lives. I get to help them with their cars and college, which is a part of growing a business and raising kids and teaching them it's not all about you or your brand or your income but about how many people you can help. I love that. I have people who depend on me and our brand; I think It's incredible.
What do you want your kids to learn from your entrepreneurial journey?
Sahar Manley: To work hard. If you work hard and are authentic, never think about the money because I believe my whole life I've never looked after money. If it's right, it comes to you. But never go after anything for money; work hard, and have the right intention. And my kids see it. I was married wealthy, but when I left, I said you know my kids can inherit everything. I want to make my kids proud, which is crucial for me. I want my kids to see that even though I could have just taken a gazillion dollars, I was proud enough to say that you guys are the kids. I'm going to make my own money and do my own thing. In life, money is so important because you can't do anything right without it, but it should never be the goal of anything. And my kids know that.
What advice do you give women who want to start their own brands?
Sahar Manley: The most important thing is to be so authentic. I mean, if I had investors that wouldn't let me do what I wanted to do because they thought it was crazy, you know? And I'm fortunate that up until now, I haven't needed investors. But honestly, I got to be authentic. So I feel like any woman, it doesn't matter what you want to be; you just have to be authentic and work hard.