When she's not traveling, you'll find Charmed Circle jewelry designer Gina Cartwright in her hometown of Houston outfitting the Bayou City's best-dressed residents at Cakewalk Style Shop, a women's boutique she co-owns with business partner and best friend Jennifer Grigsby. Where recently caught up with Cartwright to discuss her picks for dinner, drinks and design inspiration.
What sparked your interest in jewelry design? How would you describe the aesthetic of your brand, Charmed Circle? I was always fascinated with my mother's jewelry box as a kid. I would spend hours playing with her modern and vintage pieces. She had an amazing gold charm bracelet that had fabulous gold charms and each represented places that she had traveled. There was a palm tree for Hawaii, the horse and buggy for Barbados, a spinning globe... My jewelry always has a reference to something from the past. I would describe Charmed Circle as jewelry with a modern heritage.
When did you decide to open your Houston boutique, Cakewalk Style Shop, and what makes it a unique addition to the bevy of shops along Westheimer Road? What types of jewelry and accessories can patrons expect to find there? My best friend Jen and I knew there weren't many chic little privately-owned boutiques in Houston – the kind you might find on Elizabeth Street in New York. We call [Cakewalk Style Shop] our little jewel box of a shop! The minute you walk in, you feel welcome. It's sort of like shopping in your chicest friend's closet. We carry the best in contemporary women's clothing. We buy things that make our hearts beat faster! Sometimes we make choices based on emotion and not by what a spreadsheet is telling us. Our pieces are the ones that you would not normally find in a big box store.
Who are some of your favorite jewelry and fashion designers? Cartier, Celine, Chanel, Chloe ...all the big "C's", and maybe one "H": Hermes! From Cakewalk ( another "C"!), my faves are Frame denim, RtA, L'Agence, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF), Current/Elliot and Equipment.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs? You can find inspiration everywhere. I love to travel and it is not uncommon for something to make an impression on me and work its way into the jewelry. I once did a collection of cuffs based on the scrolling iron on Paris architecture.
As a Houston, Texas native, what do you enjoy most about the city? The people are amazing. Houston is a melting pot. Everyone here is so friendly and genuinely nice. It's something I really appreciate coming home to after traveling from other cities.
Tell us a few of your favorite spots around town. The Menil for inspiration; Hugo’s for Mexican food; Common Bond for quick brainstorm sessions; La Carafe for date night; and Tiny Boxwood's for business lunches.
Describe your perfect day in Houston. The perfect day would definitely be spent enjoying the arts and food: Coffee from Revival Market; visiting the Menil Collection and lunch at the Bistro Menil; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and a stroll through the MFAH Cullen Sculpture Garden followed by a nap; drinks at Anvil Bar & Refuge; and dinner at Brennan's of Houston (a classic).