Jennifer Paccione On American-Italian Heritage and Her Jewelry Brand Mediterraneo Studio
Jennifer Paccione is a multi-tasker: creative at New York-based agency bybabba and founder of the shoppable studio Mediterraneo, she spends her days juggling different jobs. Founded with her husband Adalberto, her jewelry brand Mediterraneo has now been featured on online fashion platforms such as Vogue and The Coveteur . The line, sourced in both Italy and Chinatown in New York, provides the perfect shell-charms and peperoncino earrings for your next vacation in the South Italy. We talked to Jennifer and asked her everything about her day-to-day hustle and what it is like to have an American-Italian heritage in New York.
Hi Jennifer! Tell us about yourself. What are your current jobs?
I currently work as the Creative Manager at the NY-based, brand marketing agency bybabba. With this, I am also the founder of Mediterraneo - a shoppable creative studio. Whilst living in Milan, I worked full time as a freelance editor for various publications to which I still occasionally contribute to here and there, including Bulgari and The Fashionable Lampoon.
The jewellery made for Mediterraneo Studio have a very particular - and sentimental - story. How did you come up with the idea?
I am born and raised in New York. I grew up in a very Italian household, with a very (large) Italian family (my grandparents are from Calabria and Bari). I was always under Italy’s charm and ultimately decided to move to Italy for a little over two years to pursue my dream. While I was there, I became super nostalgic in regards to my American-Italian heritage- a culture of it’s own that possessed, equally, the best traits of Southern Italy and the best traits of New York in one. It was then, during one Italian summer, that I decided to give birth to a brand that could capture this essence.
Mediterraneo Studio is described as a 'shoppable project studio': why?
I ultimately wanted to create something that could include as many of my interests as possible. I love to write, photograph on 35mm, paint and design. I didn’t want to just introduce a jewelry brand but rather something that could eventually house all of my passions in harmony and potentially in a shoppable format.
Where do you source your products from?
Our charms are all sourced from Italy. The glass peperoncini, specifically, are from Napoli and are hand-picked by myself. The gold is sourced both from Italy and New York City.
Your husband, Adalberto, has helped you shaping Mediterraneo Studio. What's his role in it and how does he help you?
He is so intertwined into the DNA of Mediterraneo. I had talked to him for months about this idea I had for a brand called Mediterraneo, but admittedly took zero action on the idea. Adalberto patiently listened to me for months until one morning he woke up after having a dream about Mediterraneo and turned to me, “Today is the day you take the first step for Mediterraneo. You’ve talked about it enough and it’s time to make it a reality.” He believed in it so much and really motivated me to move forward with the idea.
To this day he is my go-to when I think of a new design or when I’m deep in a research stage. I value his opinions on everything and we approve each design together, before moving forward with it. We also shoot all of our content together on film, taking turns between directing and photographing.
Did you ever have that "I have made it" feeling with it and if yes, when and how?
Definitely not and I hope I never have that feeling!! I have a tendency to never sit comfortably for too long, therefore I am always thinking about what is next, rather than marinating in a recent success for too long. It is something I would like to get better at though- taking a true moment to appreciate and celebrate bigger accomplishments.
Would you prefer Mediterraneo Studio to remain a side-hustle? How do you juggle both jobs?
In some ways, I think about what it would be like, however I have notoriously never pursued just one thing at once in my life. I think my personality type is made to juggle and always stay stimulated. I don’t love routine so juggling many things always keeps things interesting for me, never bored and creatively full.
You have talked about jumping into a fashion editor job without really having a degree. How did the jump happen?
I was working in more of a corporate fashion setting at the time and felt really limited creatively. Writing was an outlet for me. I knew that without a degree in journalism, the competitive landscape in New York wouldn’t provide much of an opportunity, so I sought out magazines based in Italy and offered to be their New York editor. A Milan-based magazine offered me a role as an editor, without any degree in journalism, however with zero pay. I didn’t care because I was too excited for the opportunity. I wrote for them, whilst working my full time job. After some time, some American publications noticed my work and offered to send me to Milan to cover Milan Fashion Week for them. During this time, I began writing for a second Milan-based magazine, in which my pieces were featured both digitally and in print at newsstands across Europe. I received my first cover story with this magazine and it was one of the most special moments of my career. As a result of such, Italian brands, including Bulgari, began inviting me to join their team as their in-house editor. Honestly, the jump was a series of beautiful, fortunate events.
What would your best advice be to give to another girl wanting to start a side hustle?
Do it, first and foremost! I would say in the grand scheme of things, to recognize that you will go through waves. There will be moments when the tide you’re on is strong- you’re excelling at your full-time job, you’re productive and efficient at your side hustle and on top of that you feel energized, well-rested and able to conquer anything. Alternatively, there will be moments when the tide you’re on is less strong- you’re just barely able to stay afloat at your full-time job and any time off is needed to feel rested and balanced. Recognize these inevitable tides and begin to master when to lean into something and when to pull back momentarily.