When Selina King kickstarted her self-named brand in 2012, it wasn’t a departure from the world of high fashion that she’d known for many years, but a return to her roots. Growing up on Hilton Head Island, Selina’s first brush with entrepreneurship came from observing her parents, who ran a thrift store. As devoted members of their community, they found — time and time again—the energy, resources, and passion to give to people, even when their own means were stretched thin.
During her childhood, Selina’s father fell ill, leaving her parents no choice but to close their business. What could’ve been a monumental setback was merely a bump in the road; her parents opened the very first crystal store on Hilton Head and her father, at sixty-eight years of age, embarked on a new venture: making and selling jewelry. Although Selina didn’t know it at the time, the hours of watching him craft in his studio, and the time spent in the store, would prove deeply formative.
At seventeen, Selina lost her larger-than-life, hardworking, and selfless father, whose influence lived on. She soon headed off to Parsons School of Design on a full-ride scholarship. At Parsons, Selina’s interests in fashion and business blossomed through internships at Elle Magazine and Dolce & Gabbana. With the help of Tim Gunn, the dean of her program, she pushed to graduate early in order to support her family.
After finishing school, Selina continued her fashion trajectory and began to source clothing for local shops, rising to become a prominent buyer for vintage clothing on the Lower East Side and selling to such notable fashion pillars as New York Vintage. On a trip home, she was drawn back into jewlery’s familiar orbit, experimenting with older pieces to breathe new life into their familiar forms. Although local customers lauded her creations, the timing didn’t feel right, and Selina returned to her high fashion career.
Suddenly, though, her work didn’t answer the call instilled in childhood—a passion for people, a love for creating, and a desire to give back. In 2012, Selina took the plunge and started her business, merging the industry lessons she’d learned with the ones gained from observing her parents. Before long and largely through word-of-mouth, Selina King grew into a full-fledged brand with an identity melded from her lifelong experience: jewelry for people from all walks of life that fuses the high-end with the everyday.
As Selina’s brand grew, she made a concentrated effort to give back through donations, but missed the personal element so integral to her parents’ identity. In 2018, Selina found her answer: the Selina King Empowerment Project, a way to recognize, honor, and thank women who put others before themselves.
Selina strives to be as ethical as possible with the creation of each piece. The majority of jewelry is crafted with high-quality, sustainably sourced materials, such as recycled gold and silver; ethically sourced or post-consumer diamonds; and upcycled stones from antique pieces. In recent years, Selina has begun working with antique diamonds and stones, modernizing heirloom pieces while honoring their unique, exquisitely personal histories. Engagement and wedding band design has brought particular fulfillment, as she finds something so special in creating a symbol of the union of two individuals. Eventually, this custom work inspired Selina to expand and implement a permanent Fine Collection.
Today, Selina enjoys splitting time between her Hilton Head and Brooklyn studios, sharing life with her husband of 25 years. She is currently developing a permanent wedding and engagement collection, and has set her sights on expanding to clothing and accessories in the coming years. Someday, she hopes buyers will be able to step into a Selina King storefront. Wherever the next few years take her, Selina moves forward with a sure knowledge of who she is, and where she came from—and a deep gratitude for the place she will always call home.
Bio By Madeline Wallace Photo By Lynn Bagley