Despite hand-making jewelry in high school–and even selling it–Leehe Segal didn’t always know she wanted to design jewelry for a living.
After serving in the Israeli army, the Israeli designer moved to New York for school–but still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life.
“When I finished school in New York, I was kind of lost and lonely,” she remembers. She wanted to go home to Tel Aviv, and found a job in the diamond district, working for a small jewelry-making company. That’s where she learned the tricks of the trade–design, sales, “all of it.”
Then, one day, she got in a fight with her boss, who in a moment of frustration said maybe she “should just leave” if she didn’t agree with him.
And that’s just what she did.
That same day, one of her friends asked her to design an engagement ring, and she “went all in,” and never looked back.
“I wanted to do something where I could be different, have my own space,” she explains. And starting her own jewelry business gave her the freedom to do just that.
Just as her own business was ramping up in Tel Aviv, Segal went on a business trip to New York to show in a pop-up for a month. Little did she know that trip would change her life, both personally and professionally: she met her now husband.
“I had to decide what to do because my business just started blooming in Israel, and I decided to move to New York,” she says. “It was a very complicated year.”
But it soon paid off. Now, Segal’s business is Bleecker & Prince: Bleecker represents the semi-annual online collection, Prince the custom pieces. Named for two Soho streets that never intersect, Bleecker & Prince represent Segal’s perceived intersection of laid-back heritage and clandestine modernity for people in-the-know.
“Each collection is like a birth for me,” she says. “I put something out into the world.
With evocative, whimsical names like “Kissing and Running” and “Jungle Wonderland,” each collection is distinct yet cohesive.
“[Kissing and running] was so accurate at the time–it was delicate and clean and almost quiet, but [also] timeless, which is beautiful. Then, it got more colorful, I got a little bit more confident to express my voice,” she remembers. “Every collection is connected to what I was going through at the time, and how I see life.”
With bold, colorful pieces, natural hand-carved stones, and a name that encapsulates the energy of Soho, Segal’s designs reflect the diverse set of places, dreams and quotidian objects that inspire her.
“[Inspiration] can be anything,” she says. “I can be at the supermarket or a show, or I could be dreaming. I draw inspiration from the tools in my kitchen, from museums, from the sky and the shapes that form in the clouds. I’m constantly looking at shapes and patterns and how things move.”
Whether it’s a bespoke necklace she made to celebrate her son’s home birth during the pandemic or her ready-to-wear “Odd & Eccentric” collection, Segal puts time and energy into every single piece she creates.
“Jewelry should be unique, it has energy. Whatever energy you put into it is what you’re sending out to the world. I think your jewelry should say something about you.”
“Jewelry should be unique, it has energy,” she explains. “Whatever energy you put into it is what you’re sending out to the world. I think your jewelry should say something about you.”
After her second child was born during the pandemic, Segal and her husband decided to move their family back to Israel.
“I felt like New York was in a different place, and we needed to be around family,” she explains of her recent return to her home country.
Between a homecoming, motherhood, and the craziness of the last year, we can’t wait to see what’s next for Segal.
“I always feel like I want to reinvent myself every time [I design a new collection], and I want to feel that all the pieces work together, that they’re strong and stand on their own, but they’re still me and still connected to the older collections,” she explains. “The next step is bigger, I do know that.”