Globe-Trotting with Tour Group’s Jenna Kingma
Posted On Mar 01, 2016
Breakout Bravo star Jenna Kingma trots the globe to bond with her twin sis, Misty, and brings worldly inspiration to her jewelry line.
It’s a great concept: Bravo’s new series, Tour Group, follows 11 very different adventure-seekers (not to mention three travel experts with markedly different approaches) to experience the greatness and glory of far-flung global cultures. Mixed in with these eccentric personalities, sensational locales, risqué experiences, and ruffled feathers are two sisters, Jenna and Misty Kingma… fraternal twins from San Luis Obispo, California who have maintained a distant relationship for years. And now they’re using the Tour Group opportunity to get close once more.
All the while, Jenna is integrating the cultural exposure into her greatest passion. She is setting out to fulfill her lifelong dream as the head of a thriving, eponymous jewelry line. Her brand, Jenna Michelle (jennamichelle.com), lives by the tagline “well behaved jewelry rarely makes history” and creates bold statements with metal studs, Swarovski crystals, and lucite accents. Many of her designs are directly inspired by sister Misty, in fact…
We’re excited to watch their relationship grow on Bravo and Jenna’s brand blossom in the accessories world. Here, we chat with Jenna as Tour Group hits the small screen.
NEW YOU: Jenna, this is a pretty significant time for you. How do you feel about having participated in the premiere series of Bravo’s Tour Group?
JENNA KINGMA: Everything came together so organically with it. My sister forwarded me a casting call announcement, centered around a luxury trip around the world. I responded yes, of course, and as fate would have it, we were selected to go together. I had been working at Christian Dior prior to that and I was feeling that I needed a change of direction in my life. So, I quit to go on the show.
NY: Aside from the obvious advantage of going on a globe-spanning adventure, you also got to connect with Misty, your twin. What was the takeaway there?
JK: My sister and I became so much closer on the show. It turned out way better than we ever could have imagined, actually. The producers seemed very intrigued by us, since we are polar opposites, almost to every degree. I’m the quieter one, while she has this major blog [beyourselfieblog.com] and is more likely to put herself out there. It feels like our dynamic brought a lot to the show.
NY: What was that relationship like before?
JK: We’ve always been very competitive and it was never completely comfortable. We’d see one another twice a year at most. I was always way more comfortable with boyfriends or my own group of friends. I was born first and I always took that role. At one point during the trip I confront her about it, which inspired her to take a step back and acknowledge, “Yeah, I’m being competitive right now.” In the end, our relationship has grown in amazing ways. Although I split my time between New York and LA, I’m spending more time on the west coast to be around her.
NY: With the show’s release, you are able to have a great platform for your jewelry line, Jenna Michelle. How did the travels influence your work?
JK: I was inspired wherever we went. Kenya really inspired me; we went to a local Massai village and the women there, whose only source of making money is making jewelry, laid out all of their beautiful pieces for us. This is their way of life and they really enjoyed it… I could relate. I bought a lot of pieces there. I also loved Sri Lanka which is known for its gems and jewels. There were lots of pictures taken and lots of things to buy. I bought a ton of materials in Tokyo as well.
NY: How does your jewelry craft feed the rest of your life?
JK: I had lost myself in the previous couple of years, in a relationship and with my work. I had a huge desire to feel more independent but wasn’t sure how I’d do it. I’ve always looked up to independent women, in music and life in general. The pieces I make are inspired by that call to freedom. They’re really bold while making you feel feminine and beautiful. My sister has actually always inspired me. Every holiday I’d make things specifically for her. And then when they’d be done I’d think, this really is good.
NY: What type of consumer will be drawn to Jenna Michelle?
JK: It’s for a wide spectrum of consumers. I have some pieces a 10-year-old girl would like, then there are pieces that women my mother’s age love. The line is for anyone who is looking for something unique and will help them stand out. I’m not making little necklaces with little charms… Everything is big and sparkly.
NY: What’s your personal take on dressing?
JK: I always like to have one of two pieces that serve as focal points, then everything else goes around it… like all-black with one red statement. It’s important to me that it all look effortless. This being said, you have to have fun with it, too. I’m all about being in the moment and throwing caution to the wind.
NY: Is there a philosophy that helps you through tough times?
JK: My mom taught me not to follow trends. Growing up, especially as a woman, you get compared to others and criticized. My mother, who was always very outspoken, taught me to have my own identity. That carries over into all areas, including business. People may like the company, they may not. I like it and that’s enough for me.
NY: What’s the dream goal for the brand?
JK: I would love to eventually be in stores like Barneys. The really big goal? To be in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman. Whenever I’d be walking to work at Dior, I would walk by those windows and just imagine. Really, at the end of the day, I’d love to have a long, long run as a jewelry designer and to see the brand go global.
NY: You’re in beautiful shape and come from a very athletic background. How do you ensure that you feel your best every day?
JK: I eat healthy every day and I run every day. I am the happiest when I get to exercise. I go to bed early and wake up early, which all started when I went to Arizona State on a track and field scholarship. It was so hot there, so we practiced at 5 am. I went on to became a three-time all-American. That’s the kind of discipline that helps me do what I now do with my life, ten years later. When you want something and you actually do it? There’s nothing better than that.