Gorjana is California Jewelry for California Girls

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With a booming online business and a slew of new stores in Southern California, you might think of Gorjana Reidel as the idealized picture of the American dream — she has a successful business, popular collections, and is a major player in the fashion industry. But this hardworking woman built her business from the ground up, instilling in the company her own passions, beliefs, and a whole mess of blood, sweat, and tears.

Back in 2004, Reidel developed her small, eponymous label with her husband by pitching it door-to-door at department stores and boutiques around the country. “I was so naïve when we started. I never thought building a business would be as challenging as it has been,” she admits. “You always hear entrepreneurial success stories, but no one is ever really speaking about all the small steps they had to take to be successful. Owning a business isn’t easy. It takes a lot of perseverance to push through and overcome the challenges that are thrown at you.”

But persevere she did. Today Reidel’s line is sold in over 1,000 retailers from coast to coast, with their first brick and mortar opening in Laguna Beach in 2016. To anyone following the couple’s story, it looks like a picture perfect vision of success. “I am so happy with what we have built and so grateful to be doing what I love, but I don’t ever sit back and think, ‘Wow, I’ve made it!’” she notes. “Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel that way -- there is always room for growth and improvement.”

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For Reidel, success comes in the form of a dedicated fan base that understands both her brand and the company’s philosophy. Not only does she stress the importance of appreciating the community she’s chosen to call home, but she also understands the need to help it grow and prosper. “Giving back has always been so important to me, especially locally and to children. I am so grateful for everything that I have and I want to share that with others,” she explains. “I believe that most people are compassionate and want to help the less fortunate — I think that’s why customers look to connect with companies that share similar values.”

Indeed, it seems that customers are taking to Reidel’s philanthropic attitude. Inspired by the women who wear her pieces and the city around her, she creates designs that people actually want to wear. “My source of inspiration is always changing and evolving. Inspiration can come from people, travel, places, or even something as simple as me needing something to go with an outfit,” she says. “Our summer collection is inspired by Laguna, we live in this amazingly beautiful place and I really wanted to offer them a bit of California to wear.”

The designer seems to understand California style in a way only a true Californian can. Her brand’s “Art of Layering” gives women easy ways to mix and match pieces to create their own unique look.

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“I really see layering as an art form. I love that you can take different pieces that we make and create your own unique look. It gives our girl such versatility and the ability to express herself,” Reidel explains.

“I tend to play favorites and constantly layer two to three pieces in different ways until I am ready for something new. Right now my favorite layer is our Griffin Dog Tag, Parker Necklace, and Capri Layer Necklace. All three are from our new summer collection and are my absolute faves!”

So what’s next for this stylish SoCal designer? “I am so excited to announce that we are opening new stores! We are expanding into Northern California and also opening our first store in Arizona at Scottsdale Quarter. I have special ties to both of those places so it’s really exciting,” she added. “We also have a collection coming out this fall that is inspired by Serbia (where I was born). I love the idea of getting to share my culture with everyone!”

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Marissa Stempien is a freelance editor and writer with a jewelry obsession that started the second she was old enough to reach her mom’s jewelry box. With a degree in English Literature and minor in Asian Studies, she has written on travel, fashion, beauty, technology, culture and food, and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. Find her on social media at @paperandlights.