Medical school. That was the path Steffi Keung set herself on once she graduated from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam in 2009. She then promptly moved to California to attend UCLA and followed that up with a job in the health industry. Surprisingly, it was no fun experience for her.
"I did not enjoy it at all," the Los Angeles jeweler and entrepreneur admitted. "I've always liked fashion and trends and being creative. That's how I came about doing this [jewelry designing], making the switch."
Ditching the stethoscope and scalpel, Keung is now a jewelry designer (self-taught), creating high-end accessories for her own line, Steffi K. Her brass cuff was spotted on Pharrell William's prodigy Hannah Huston on the season 10 finale of The Voice. R&B star Brandy is another celebrity that has sported Keung's creations, a set of golden hoops and rings while performing on stage. Christina Milian, for her part, dazzled with a Steffi K drop necklace at the 2017 Golden Globes pre-party.
Steffi K brings together Keung's love for high fashion and street style, often classed up with gold and brass tones. "Just being in L.A.—people are really free [here] about their outer appearances and what they wear. So, I'm really inspired by that, and of course, trends and celebrities. I always say my biggest style inspiration is Rihanna because she's edgy and elegant, and she can have a rocker chic style, too. I try to make pieces that people might not see everywhere. I like classy and edgy—stuff you would see in an editorial fashion magazine," she explained.
That means creating all her pieces by hand, a process that begins from idea to design and production. It's part of keeping control over her brand, a way to do what she wants and to avoid awaiting approval from others.
Designing, producing, and selling jewelry seems like a long stretch away from Keung's original medical aspirations. But back home, she was always into the arts, was a member of the Guam Territorial Band, and someone who was deep into music and drawing. "When I went to college, [all] that went on the backburner. It was all about studying, all about getting the right extracurricular, and getting the resume right if I wanted to apply to med school,” she recalled. “Having my own jewelry line wasn't the plan. Even though I'm working longer hours and it's not a regular 9 to 5, it's something I'm passionate about, and it doesn't feel like working. That, to me, is one of the most important things in choosing a career, I feel."
Check out Keung’s creations at www.steffikjewelry.com.
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Guam born and raised, this contributor has an affinity for island life, people, food and culture. Got a story idea? Email her at email@example.com.Follow on Twitter More Content by Lacee A.C. Martinez