Their iconic style is inspired by each other, and they inspire us.
We sat down for a bar side chat with Shinola’s favorite
mother-daughter duo, Caitlin and Judy Cooper, to learn
about their staple jewelry pieces and their takes on
stacking and layering.
Inside the building in Detroit known for making iconic, handcrafted goods are style icons of their own creation. It’s here you will find mother Judy Cooper and her daughter Caitlin gracing our halls in their trademark all-black looks—both putting a unique spin on monochromatic.
The focus is not so much on color, but instead how they adorn themselves with layers of precious metals. Their attire serves as the perfect canvas for the playful art of stacking timeless jewelry and timepieces.
Those who spend time curating and discovering their own personal style know that there are layers to it. Luckily, Judy and Caitlin were willing to peel them back for us.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR STYLE INSPIRATION FROM?
“As I get older, I’ve started to really appreciate simplicity,” Judy, Shinola Foundry Specialist, said. “I’ve always been drawn to the color black because I don’t compete with it. When I first started at Shinola, I bought a bunch of black dresses to have a go-to uniform just like Steve Jobs, so I didn’t have to think too hard about putting something together. Now, it’s become my signature.”
For Caitlin, her inspiration was sitting right next to her.
“As a young child, I thought that I really liked colorful clothing. I would get mad at my mom for always wearing black. I just couldn’t understand why she would always just stick to that color when so many other colors exist,” Caitlin, Customer Experience Operations Manager, laughed. “Then I realized that black is just the ultimate color.”
Both ladies find their confidence in comfort, although when it comes to their everyday looks, Judi takes a minimalistic approach, while Caitlin enjoys playing with textures and layers.
The same rules apply for the duo when it comes to layering and stacking their jewelry as well.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PIECES?
Delicately draped around Caitlin’s neck was a thick, yellow gold serpentine necklace—a piece special to both mom and daughter.
“Caitlin’s dad gave me this necklace while we were dating,” Judy recalled. “I eventually stopped wearing it, but once Caitlin’s interest in jewelry really peaked, I thought passing it down to her was a good way to give her a piece with meaning and ties to our family legacy. Plus, I just thought it looked better on her than on me.”
Caitlin found a way to incorporate it into her style that gave it a second life.
“This was one of my first nicer pieces that I got to add to my collection and was my interlude into finer jewelry,” she said.
“Now, it’s my statement piece that I style everything else around. It has a wider chain and sits higher on my neck, which gives me the opportunity to layer more pieces with it. It’s also a piece that I rarely take off.”
That made Judy light up. “When I wore it, I never took it off either!”
Caitlin held the necklace in her hand and noted how the weight of it made it stand out to her as well. “It just feels like a luxury item.”
HOW DO YOU DEFINE LUXURY?
“I always equate the weight of an item with its quality,” Caitlin explains. “I see it in Shinola’s jewelry pieces. When you hold the Rivet Cuff in your hands you can feel the weight to it, it just feels so luxe. This extends to our watches too—especially our automatics.”
Judy agrees. “Having a guest at the store put a watch in their hands before they try it on is such a powerful moment.”
Quality isn’t something that can be explained, it has to be felt to be understood.
“Personally, I like simple but very elegant pieces. I think Shinola’s jewelry collection does a great job at elevating themselves by keeping it simple. From rubies to diamonds and now Petoskey, Shinola has found a way to use these materials to add sentimental value, making them timeless heirloom pieces that could go with anything and never go out of style,” Judy added.
Pieces like these make powerful wardrobe essentials. Simple, yet anything but basic, they can elevate a more everyday-dressed-down look in a way that’s personal and works well with what you already own. Its weight holds both quality and sentimental value. They’re the kind of pieces that you don’t have to see to know they’re there, but you can feel something missing when you go a day without wearing them.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT OTHER PIECES THAT HOLD SENTIMENTAL VALUE TO YOU?
“When I was thinking what kind of dialogue I could add to the stacking conversation, I thought about how each piece that you wear represents a story or moment in your life,” Judy explains.
“Stacking gives you a way to add or subtract pieces, wear them all or just a few, and tell your story in that way. They’re a legacy item, especially from mother to daughter. I think it’s one of the most sentimental things that can be passed down.”
And for her most sentimental pieces?
“I would say all the pieces that Caitlin gave me from Shinola over the years. It makes me laugh when I think of her trying to negotiate with the associates at the employee sample store for me,” she smiles.
Over the years, Judy has collected many Shinola pieces that remind her of their time here together.
“One of the first pieces Caitlin gave me was this gold Signet ring. It meant so much that I could get it personalized.”
Judy revealed her ring, engraved with an elegant “J”.
“I would also say that the other pieces that I’ve picked up along the way during my time here are sentimental to me too. They mark different milestones and memories of being here,” Caitlin added. Two other pieces that embody this are watches that have stood the test of time through different stages of her career at Shinola.
“The first would be my Gomelsky that my mom gave me while I was working at a jewelry store. It’s how I first found out about Shinola. People would come into the store asking for their watches, but we didn’t have them yet at the time. That was about 8 years ago. I wore it when I interviewed for the job at Shinola!”
The second was sitting on her wrist.
“My Petoskey Canfield is special for a few reasons,” Caitlin explained. “It was the original Canfield dial that we did and my favorite Shinola watch of all time. It’s also a piece I bought for myself and tailored to my style. I added a yellow gold mesh bracelet to make it more of a flashy jewelry piece.”
In the era of disposability, jewelry remains one of the few items that can be treasured forever. It can be inherited, reworked, reset, and restyled over and over again to make it truly yours. It’s crafted to carry meaning for generations to come—and you can honor it every day just by wearing it.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE THESE PIECES INTO YOUR EVERYDAY LOOK?
“I just wear them! I strongly believe that jewelry is supposed to be worn, so why not wear it?” Caitlin said. “Yes, it might get a few scratches, but jewelry is supposed to be lived in, worn out, and well loved.”
It’s a sentiment that Shinola knows well.
DO YOU HAVE ABY TIPS FOR STACKING OR LAYERING YOUR PIECES?
“I’m more of a minimalist,” Judy explained. “I like mixing something with sparkle with something simple.”
Caitlin takes the opposite approach.
“Don’t limit yourself! For me, that’s what stacking is all about. Pile them on and don’t overthink it too hard. Just wear what you like and be confident about it.” It can be easy to overthink stacking pieces—focusing too hard on the beauty of it can become the chaos of crafting a look. Instead, Caitlin suggests focusing on how the pieces feel together.
“When it comes to rings, I love to have a bold statement piece—something eye-catching and a conversation starter. On the other hand, or finger, I will have a few simple bands stacked. You can turn that simple band into something great by putting them all together,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid to throw some unique bands on there to mix and match your style. Even taking the Diamond Rivet Eternity Band and putting it with a piece like the Diamond Rivet Ring that are kind of opposites can make such a unique look. Not everything has to match, if it lays right and it feels comfortable, that’s all I really care about.”
Judy goes by feel as well, but in a slightly different way.
“It depends how I feel each day. Each piece means something different to me, so I like to add meaning to my look based on that—what memory or feeling I want to carry around with me,” she adds.
At the end of the day, applied to jewelry and beyond, that’s the best mother-daughter advice one could give. If it feels right, you can’t really go wrong.