The Jewellery Box

The New York restaurateur on mixing fashion and fine jewels

80 percent of our customers aren’t vegan, which is exactly what we wanted” says Samantha Wasser, founder of the vegan restaurant by CHLOE. “We knew we would never be successful by only targeting vegan customers and we wanted to open everyone’s eyes to how delicious plant-based eating can be.”

Aside from inclusivity, the key ingredients to the restaurant’s success (13 locations plus two bakeries opened globally, over a period of three and a half years), are wholesome ingredients and colourful interiors that encourage selfie-taking and table-sharing with strangers.

Welcoming us in to her Brooklyn-based home, Samantha rummages through three large closet drawers that reveal her eclectic taste and penchant for collecting statement earrings. Here she tells us about breaking the rules, shopping for jewellery on Instagram and how by CHLOE. became a dating hot-spot.

Tell me how you came up with the idea for by Chloe?

When the concept of opening a vegan restaurant was brought to me, I jumped at the idea. There was a real need for a restaurant that could introduce diners to delicious plant-based foods and be a gathering place for anyone, no matter their dietary preferences. I am not vegan, but I found myself gravitating towards plant-based foods; cutting out dairy and eating less meat. When eating out, my options were limited. Rather than order off the menu, I’d have to build my own dish by adding and subtracting ingredients. I wanted a restaurant that suited my dietary needs but it didn’t exist so I decided to create one for other diners who were experiencing the same frustrations as me.

What was your vision for launching the restaurant?

We wanted to create a restaurant that offered delicious food, that happened to be Vegan. Our goal was to introduce plant-based versions of the foods you crave; burgers, fries, pastas, sweets and more, while designing a restaurant space that felt authentic and welcoming.

camera A selection of hoops by Laura Lombardi

Tell us about the experience you provide?

by CHLOE. has a unique brand and voice. No matter which location you visit, you’ll find our signature black and white tiles, striped floors, antique mirrors, kitschy sayings like ‘hey there hot stuff’ and swing chairs. Each location also has design touches that pay homage to the neighbourhood it is in. For example our Covent Garden location has a neon sign that says ‘Guac save the Queen’, the mirrors in the bathrooms say “YAAAS KING” and “YAAAS QUEEN.”

Who is your customer?

We have a millennial following, 85 percent of which are women, which in turn attracts men. When we first opened, my male friends kept showing up, convinced they were going to meet their wives there. Two of our English customers actually met while waiting in line at by CHLOE. LA and are now married with their first baby. We were so happy to hear their story on Instagram, we invited them to the opening of our London store.  Meeting them in real life was so special for our whole team.

camera Keef Palas leaf earrings from his ephemeral collection

camera Alison Lou large Lucite hoops

Tell us about your jewellery collection.

I’ve always been into jewellery. I love to collect pieces by up and coming designers as well as vintage pieces. I change my jewellery all the time, so fine jewellery is not always an option. Thanks to Instagram it is really easy to connect with amazing, emerging brands and find unique pieces that no one else has.

Who are some of your favourite brands you have discovered through Instagram?

I am obsessed with Keef Palas’ ephemeral jewellery. He creates earrings from things that only last a specific period of time such as flowers, chillies or corn. They come vacuum packed but once opened, you must treasure and value your time with the jewels as they will expire. It is a very cool concept. Laura Lombardi is my go-to for hoop earrings. For fun, colourful pieces I like Dady Bones pompom earrings, I love the fruit and dice earrings. And Alison Lou Lucite earrings are my go-to for everything.

Do your source the vintage pieces yourself or are they inherited?

I have some costume pieces that my Mother wore in the 80s but I’m a big vintage collector of bags, clothing and jewellery. Whenever I find pieces I like, I snap them up. Over the years I collected vintage Chanel and YSL but it is not necessarily about buying branded or expensive pieces. I actually prefer to buy unnamed or unmarked treasures on my travels.  It is about finding something unique that alludes to a rich history.

Where do you go to source vintage jewellery. Are there any hot-spots you frequent in New York?

Manhattan Vintage Show which occurs four times a year in New York City is my absolute favourite place to visit.

camera Sam at home in Brooklyn

camera Vintage Chanel earrings

How would you describe the way you style your jewellery?

I don’t listen to the rules. I mix everything together. I like to take risks and be expressive with my jewellery. Sometimes I’ll wear a single earring or I’ll wear both earrings from the pair in the same ear. Jewellery is meant to be fun so I don’t take my costume pieces to seriously.  Sometimes its OK to be a little extra.

Do you have a piece that is really special to you?

I have two rings from my husband. My engagement ring, that features a beautiful diamond that he chose with a friend of mine who has impeccable taste. An emerald ring based on my Grandmother’s ring, that I received for my 30th birthday.  The emerald ring was designed by my friend Alison Lou, who actually wore the ring to my 30th birthday party. When she arrived I told her it was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. She took it off and said ‘it’s yours’! I couldn’t believe it. I still think she may come back to reclaim it.

If you could swap jewellery boxes with anyone who would it be?

Elizabeth Taylor, that may be a cliché but what girl doesn’t love big diamonds. At the airport the other day they had an exhibition of photographs showing stars boarding flights back in the day. All of the celebrities were beautifully dressed in tailored dresses and suits. In one of the iconic images, Elizabeth Taylor had a diamond ring on that was as big as her hand, I was completely mesmerised by the stone’s beauty.