Salinas: Sustainable Jewelry

Salinas is an online startup targeting the mid-level jewelry market: a sector where the founder, Larissa Chern, sees a vacuum of vendors. Salinas is the epitome of a passion project: the result of months of preparation and planning, it launched two weeks ago.

Salinas is a company rooted in Larissa’s home: Brazil. Her original idea involved bringing tapioca crepes, a popular Brazilian snack, to LA, a city known for its occasionally neurotic relationship with food. Although Larissa loves eating them, she absolutely could not see herself working in the food industry. So she turned to her other interests: fashion and sharing Brazilian culture with her friends. She fused the two and Salinas was born. Production takes place in Brazil; Salinas is very much invested in ensuring Brazil’s continued development. Larissa has partnered with Brasil Solidário, which works with impoverished families. They teach children skills the local schools cannot afford to, from sculpting to poetry, and help their parents to become economically self-sufficient.

Salinas is currently sold exclusively in the US, but Larissa hopes to expand sales to Europe and open her own physical boutique in the near future. She says that the main issue thus far has been in garnering attention. Although social media campaigns have been fairly successful in bringing viewers to her site, converting them into buyers is proving challenging. She attributes this in part to the nature of buying jewelry online: one does not have the ability to sample pieces prior to purchasing. Larissa described launching Salinas’ site as “throwing something into a black hole,” where the something is the result of countless hours of development. Unlike many established manufacturers, Salinas is unable to sell to Barneys or other department stores. Its pieces are handmade, meaning production does not reach a volume sufficient for such a contract.
Despite the challenges Larissa has faced, she is optimistic about Salinas’ success due to the company’s unique position. Salinas aims to strike a balance between quality materials and affordability. It uses 925 sterling silver with gold bonding, a process distinctly different from gold plating. This involves laying several layers of 18k gold over the silver, as opposed to just a single coating. This creates pieces far more durable and avoids exposing the wearer to potential allergic reactions. Thanks to connections developed during Larissa’s time in Brazil, Salinas’ designer has over 20 years of experience, and the goldsmiths who handcraft her pieces are veterans of the industry. The average price of a piece comes in at US$300, placing Salinas in a strong position to exploit the lack of competitors presenting both distinctive designs and exceptional quality.

By: Jason Gush