BABE #158: DANA ROGOZINSKI, Founder @ Jakob Ella
Every piece of jewelry tells a story. For today’s babe, Dana, that story seeps deep into her soul due to its impact on her family, her life, and history as we know it. As founder of Jakob Ella Jewelry, Dana's desire to spark a conversation with the pieces she produces is one we respect and admire here at BWH. Her collection is the perfect mix of family and fashion — accessories with heartfelt lessons and reminders of what once was, what can never be, and why we should let others have their say. Thank you for your time, Dana! You are a true hustlin’ babe.
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Current city: Anywhere on the East Coast. I’m living out of a suitcase for the next month.
Alma mater: Florida State University; Nova Southeastern University
Degree: B.A., Merchandising and Product Development, MBA, Business Administration
Very first job: Babysitting. After that, I was a lifeguard during the summers.
Hustle: President/Founder @ Jakob Ella Jewelry
How do you spend your free time?
What is free time? I spend time relaxing with my yellow lab, Belle, visiting my grandmother, FaceTiming with friends all over the world, shopping online, driving the boat without knowing where I will end up—and I love a good girls’ night with my best friends.
Go-to coffee order?
Medium caramel coffee with skim milk and one packet of sugar in the raw.
Go-to adult beverage?
Extra-dirty martini with three olives.
What is something you want to learn or master?
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Ralph Lauren or Karl Lagerfeld.
Tell us about your hustle.
I created the Jakob Ella jewelry collection to perpetuate the hopes, dreams, and memories of all who survived the Holocaust and the millions who perished. I stand here today as a 3rd Generation of two inspiring individuals who survived.
What does your typical workday look like?
I am a one-woman show (with help from my family), so I’m responsible for everything regarding the brand: planning meetings, scheduling my travels, coming up with content, designing, negotiating—everything there is to do, I'm the one who does it.
What inspired Jakob Ella?
My paternal grandparents, Ella and Jakob Rogozinski, are Holocaust survivors. My grandmother was tattooed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The number that was tattooed on her arm became a part of her identity and it was a teaching tool she used to tell her story and let people know it happened and she lived through it. My biggest goal is to get everyone in the world to wear a piece of Holocaust remembrance jewelry. It sparks the conversation, it keeps the stories alive, and it allows us to ensure that it never happens again.
Why did you choose jewelry to be the medium of Jakob Ella’s message?
My grandmother was a self-taught jewelry designer at Underwood’s Jewelers for almost 50 years. I grew up visiting her at work and on weekends I would go to her house, sit at her kitchen table and watch and listen to her as she taught me what she had taught herself. It was a bonding activity for us and something I just grew to love and appreciate over the years.
How would you describe Jakob Ella’s style of jewelry?
The Jakob and Ella Legacy collection is simple, organic and elegant. It’s not supposed to be elaborate or ostentatious. It’s something people notice and ask you about. Every piece has a story.
Are there any other team members behind Jakob Ella?
I have the best team. Although this is my company, it is my family’s story. Because of this, all of my team members are family members. I have phone conferences with my aunt, my cousin travels with me, my siblings help me make big decisions, my parents are constantly checking in and my cousins all give me inspiration for new designs or marketing ideas. I am so fortunate to have the people I trust the most behind me in this call to action.
What keeps you anchored to your local community?
My family and my friends. Every time I move away, I always end up coming back. I've lived all over the world but when I come home to Jacksonville and my family is here, I feel like I’m home.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
The biggest milestones to date are when I receive notes from people who wear Jakob Ella Jewelry. When they tell me they have finally found something they are proud to wear every day and enjoy when the conversation sparks over the piece of jewelry, I feel my mission has been accomplished. Being able to do something so special for someone is an honor and a privilege. Knowing it is an invaluable heirloom to them allows me to know I am making a difference and perhaps changing the world for the better, one piece of history at a time.
How would you say being a woman has affected your professional experience?
It has only affected me in a positive way. When looking at my grandmother’s application for employment in the 60s one of the questions was, “Does your husband give you permission to work?” Look how far we've come — we can not only work for anyone we choose, but we can own our own company without anyone’s permission.
What’s your ultimate dream job?
Owning my own fine jewelry company (pretty cool, right?)
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
I am involved in a few young professional organizations and nonprofits in Jacksonville. In terms of projects, I’m fortunate to be working with Agnes Lopez (another boss babe) on a photography exhibit. Our collaboration is called “Faces to Remember.” We’re photographing Holocaust survivors around the East Coast for an exhibit showing what they look like now and telling their heroic stories.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Make sure you find a mentor in the industry who believes in you, whether it’s a family member, a previous teacher or a parent. Someone who has been in your shoes before to teach you the things you never even thought about will help you more than you can believe.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Walking and pilates. I walk about 10 miles a day to clear my head, and try to relax and take my mind off work with pilates for two hours a day.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Take the risk. It is the scariest thing you will ever do and the hardest thing you will ever do, but do it. Every little milestone is huge because it was your idea, your baby, and your vision.
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