Located in the heart of New York's vibrant Lower East Side neighborhood, Diana Yen has constructed a creative, culinary haven filled with all of the things that she loves. There, one can find the California native turned Brooklyn small business owner working on a variety of projects via The Jewels of New York — her sought-after food styling and consulting studio. As a bonafide photographer, stylist, and author, Diana's endeavors all tie back to a connected love of food, gathering, and slow living. This thoughtfulness also extends to Diana's sense of style which is an inspiration in itself. Below, Diana wears our Bonita heel and gives us an inside look at her studio and process.
I’m originally from California and have lived in NYC for over a decade now. So I guess it makes me officially a New Yorker! I own Jewels of New York, a food styling and consulting studio in the Lower East Side.
The Jewels of New York
I started my own business the year I turned 29, something inside me was saying I should try going down my own path even though I had put many years into my design career. My best friend and I loved to cook and entertain, and since we were both transplants, food became a way to learn about New York. We created our own traditions like apple picking in the fall and making recipes from them, or picnicking with friends in Central Park. I decided that The Jewels of New York could be about sharing the gems we discovered along the way.
My ideal Brooklyn summer is to meet up after work with friends in parks to lay out and picnic or a throw rooftop BBQ, it’s such a classic Brooklyn thing. And if I’m in town, I’ll head upstate on the weekends.
Professionally, I like to use the summer to reflect and make plans for the fall when I feel refreshed. I take projects as they come, but it is mainly a time of rest and travel for me.
On Travel and Food
I think that San Francisco cares very much about sustainability in food and is a pioneer in this field. For example, I’ve visited interesting companies that are creating alternative meat products that grow in labs. It sounds far-fetched now, but think of the way that could change animal agriculture!
Coast to Coast
My roots are in California, and I find that going there for long blocks of time helps me to connect back to myself and stay grounded. The pace there is much more relaxed, and LA values health and wellness, which are both very important to me. There are so many amazing female-run businesses out there like Moon Juice, Sun Potion, and Botanica Restaurant. The healthy food movement and stylish all day cafes are inspiring NYC at the moment.
I also love going upstate because the produce is incredible in the summer! There are farm stands everywhere and eating fresh fruits and veggies at peak season is such a treat. I end up staying with friends, and we’ll spend days swimming in lakes, hiking and cooking a big family meal at night. There’s nothing like gazing at stars and breathing the fresh country air.
What sustainability in food means to Diana - Shopping locally whenever possible is the best way to eat sustainably. Hitting up the Farmers Market once a week is a great way to do this! Not only are you getting the freshest most beautiful produce, but you’ll also find that it’s much more cost efficient than normal grocery stores.
The story of Cleo the bunny - I visited my friend's angora farm upstate and fell in love with these fluffy creatures! Cleo has an outgoing, dog-like personality and eats all of my veggie scraps at work.
How Diana plans to style her Bonita heels on her next adventure - I’d love to bring these amazing shoes with me on an LA road trip through Malibu, Topanga, and Joshua Tree. I’m thinking Georgia O’Keefe desert chic this summer in a black linen dress and head wrap.
My forever item is my black horn Laguiole pocket knife; it’s the best tool at work and often goes on adventures with me. I still admire it every time I use it to slice freshly purchased fruit at the farmers market. It’s one of those objects that become more beautiful with time.