Ian Charms Founder Lisa Sahakian is Blazing Her Own Trail
“Trolling” is the first word Lisa Sahakian used to describe her brand’s ethos. “Ian Charms is supposed to make you forget about anything stressful in your life and allow you to have fun.”
Ian Charms, named after the common three-letter suffix at the end of Armenian last names, gives a masterclass in blending fun and fashion. With a collection of jewelry featuring cowboy hats, eight-ball, and taco charms (and one iconic RHOBH necklace), Sahakian blends her personality into every piece
“We’ve just gotten away with being ourselves,” said Sahakian.
As the owner, designer, social media manager, and marketer, Sahakian wears all the hats when it comes to her jewelry brand.
“There was just this gap in the market for our specific price point of cool jewelry, and especially custom jewelry,” said Sahakian, “the customization aspect is what really attracts people to it, and it also keeps people really tied to the brand because you're able to make something so personal and, like, make it with me. So it kind of, I think, has helped build this cult following.”
The bedroom-based operation exploded into popularity after the unique pieces were spotted on celebrities like Lil Nas X, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, and more. Since founding the brand in 2020, Sahakian has released continuous quirky jewelry drops, clothing designs, keychains, bongs, and other trinkets while staying true to the custom commissions that got Ian Charms off the ground.
“I essentially have an entire room and wall of thousands of beads, so I can't do typical inventory. Usually, what I've done is pop-up sorts and personal things like taking notes and then making the piece at home. But normally, when someone buys a custom, I'll say, 'What colors do you like? Are there any specific beads that you want? And is there anything else you'd like?'”
Yet, no matter what it is, if it has the Ian Charms name, it is tied to Lisa. And, while the brand is intrinsically hers, that level of involvement can come at a cost. Ian Charms is run by Lisa, her mom, and a small group of staff —most of which are Sahakian’s friends from college.
“It's difficult because it's really hard for me to hire anyone," said Sahakian, "I have never been able to really have someone run my socials. I realized there are so many things that are so tied to me.”
With that level of involvement, Sahakian had to find a balance between burnout and staying true to the branding.
"I think overall it's amazing. But I do think that if I'm sick, it actually really affects the brand, " said Sahakian.
"I'm the one doing interviews, I'm front-facing, and I also need to be creatively inspired," she continued. "So, if I'm dealing with something personal or feeling kind of depressed, it does really affect the brand.”
The level of work Sahakian has put into the brand continues to pay off. Humor and uniqueness are two values the Founder and designer keep at the core of her business. Everything from the unique styles of beads to the goofy social media posts has created an organic community that Sahakian herself wasn't fully aware of until recently.
"There were just people I had met and liked in the city, and some had big followings. It wasn't us like cold emailing people's managers," said the Sahakian, "like there was no one there that I didn't know. And, because it's me meeting them, we are really like-minded and have a similar sense of humor. So, it created a community."
Like most things for Ian Charms, by following her own path and bypassing traditional tools, Sahakian has still cultivated a committed and excited community.
"I want to be more cognizant of creating a community in a more thoughtful way, but I think I'm really lucky that it has happened organically," said Sahakian. "I feel like it's been working out."
As the New York store finishes its run, Ian Charms plans to focus on its upcoming fine jewelry collections and apparel drops. Keep up with Lisa on Instagram @slizardmcquire, and follow @iancharms.