Khadijah Fulton, owner and designer of White/Space, has had a busy six months. On the one hand, the small group of manufacturing artisans that helped her with large orders and busy seasons had to close for California’s stay-at-home order. She found herself filling all orders from her successful e-commerce business. Amazingly, the orders kept coming in.
“I hope a lot of jewelers have seen this. And it lifts your spirits that these customers are thinking of you when we all have so much to process. With so many people at home, they feel more conscious of their choices. They want to support local businesses and businesses that align with their values.”
On the other hand, she has two sons, ages 5 and 10, who have been home and learning online, which regularly impacts her bench time. Let’s note that Khadijah considers herself a mother first and a designer second. “All of our routines have been interrupted, and it’s just as stressful for them as it is for me. My 10 year old does pretty well, but my younger one is in kindergarten, and online classes prove challenging. He’ll sit for a while, then get up to play or come to see me.”
The Beginning of White/Space Jewelry
Ironically, Khadijah was a designer long before she had her children. She graduated from Parson’s School of Design in NYC, then spent 10 hectic years in the fashion industry as a designer for brand name clothing lines. After Khadijah had her first child, she wanted to slow down her life, arranging her schedule around her child. She branched out into jewelry as a way to express her creativity.
She tries to keep her White/Space bestsellers in stock, making other pieces to order. Like any number of jewelers who’ve found themselves busy during COVID-19, Khadijah attributes her business growth to a couple of factors:
- First, with travel and cruises out of the picture and dining out limited, jewelry plays an even more vital role in celebrations and feel-good moments. And when people choose a gift, they often spend more than they typically would.
- Second, her loyal, supportive customers who want to see her through this difficult time. “I hope a lot of jewelers have seen this. And it lifts your spirits that these customers are thinking of you when we all have so much to process. With so many people at home, they feel more conscious of their choices. They want to support local businesses and businesses that align with their values.”
- “The Black Lives Matter movement has also helped my business grow,” Khadijah says. “It focused attention on black-owned businesses, and I saw my orders surge through June and July. It’s more settled now, but I’m still busier than I was a year ago.”
Fortunately, she connected with an artisan jeweler who lives near her home outside Los Angeles, which helped her keep up with the volume. And recently her artisan manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles re-opened, so she’s working with them again. “For several months, I had to chain myself to my bench for evenings and weekends to get my work done, so I’m grateful that I can share the load.”
Khadijah sells her designs in selective retail outlets, and she’s recently taken on new wholesale partners. But facing the future, she wants to focus on building her internal team to continue growing her direct sales alongside these wholesale relationships.
“I want to build my brand, and I’ll need a team to help me grow,” she says. “I’m looking forward to finding great people that believe in the potential of White/Space as much as I do.”
She would like to focus on a bridal offering and take on more custom design for 2021. “By having a team in place, I’ll have more time to focus on designing more styles that my customers love and creating even more meaningful pieces for them, which I find the most rewarding parts of my job. As designers and jewelers, we get the privilege of making vessels for their sentiments, memories, and most treasured connections.”
Behind the Name
When Khadijah named her business White/Space, she thought of it in design terms: an open space that invites creativity and personal expression. In the last few years, through the BLM movement, it has taken on other connotations.
“I’ve worked in ‘white spaces’ much of my adult life in a real sense, working for larger companies where I was one of very few (or the only) Black designer on the creative team, and now in the jewelry industry, which also has the same issues,” she explains.
“But working for myself, I’m excited to be part of the change that both industries need, building a visible, distinctive, luxury brand and doing it as a Black woman. Hopefully, in the future, young creatives of color will grow up seeing even more successful designers that look like them and will feel like they would be welcomed into our industry.”
So far, this approach is leading her in the right direction.