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Hasmig “Jasmine” Penna: “Let’s start a movement for unexpected kindness”

…Very simple – unexpected kindness. Let’s think about it. If everyone chose a day in a week where they made a decision to pay for the coffee of the person behind them, or drop a case of water near an area that might need it, or …… Allow someone else in the restroom line to go […]


…Very simple – unexpected kindness. Let’s think about it. If everyone chose a day in a week where they made a decision to pay for the coffee of the person behind them, or drop a case of water near an area that might need it, or …… Allow someone else in the restroom line to go before you, hold the door open for someone at the store (not someone who needs the door to be opened but to anyone). Honestly, ANYTHING. Each person, one act of kindness a week, with no prejudice on social status, gender, religion, or race.
My sons first experience: There was a high school boy who had a sprinkles gift card in line in front of us. He was there with a female friend. We were behind them next in line. The high schooler asked the cashier after he placed his order how much he still had on the card. After the cashier told him; he asked if there is enough to get the kid behind him a cupcake and she said yes. He turned to us and said “ma’am I want to buy your son’s cupcake. I have enough on a gift card”. I asked if he is sure and he said yes. So I said thank you for your act of kindness. I could barely swallow because I was so overcome by emotion. My son started saying thank you, thank you, to him even though I don’t know if he grasped it all (he is 3). The next day, after school- I took my son back to the mall. We stood in the same Sprinkles line and we paid for the next two cupcakes that were to be bought. It was the same lady working as the day before. She remembered and said “thats very cool ma’am”. And the rest of the $20 was her tip for helping out. No one was in line behind us when we paid- so we have no idea who got them. But my son was so happy to know that he was going to make someone else smile in a few minutes. And if he asks me to do it again- I will. Until he is old enough to do it for himself.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Hasmig “Jasmine” Penna. It’s natural to get inspired on vacation right!? Inspired on her honeymoon in Bora Bora, Congés is French and means “to be on holiday,” and for the Los Angeles native Congés designer, Hasmig “Jasmine” Penna, it’s a state of mind. Striking a chord of personal well-being, Congés is a fine jewelry line perfect for luxury lovers that want jewelry with a meaning. The collection bodes enhancing courage, self-awareness, and empowerment. Penna obtained a degree from FIDM in Business and Product Development and went on to create beautiful works of art in her designs.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

This career path was one that I was destined to be affiliated with. Everything is art in different forms. There are people that have a passion for being students of life. I am one of them. I enjoy stories about ancient cultural traditions, about nature and the people we meet in random encounters. It can be about almost anything and I will want to know about it. In the world of product or a brand, I care about the people behind it. What circumstances where they in need of prior to inventing that item themselves- then producing it. In any service business, I want to know what circumstance did they live through and experience to come up with that idea.

Congés was a combination and cumulation of a need, incorporated with my personal interests, beliefs, in efforts of displaying it in a fashionable way. I created Congés Fine Jewelry for someone like myself. Story telling, keeping memories alive with unique memorabilia without collecting clutter, without overspending on something you keep in a drawer. I wanted to design meaningful pieces that are unique to wear daily, collect, gift, or pass on as a keepsake. The interest of crystals; and designing/ creating something new and different is just how I have always wanted to live my life. These are the ingredients that ignited Congés Fine Jewelry.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

My sons interest in crystals and his innate nature and attraction to them, I find interesting. He feels each of their properties and describes them. There was a full moon, and he said “come mommy lets take these outside and put it under the sky.” Not one that practices putting my crystals out during every full moon, I thought it was slightly weird for a 2 year old say, but as a team we took all my home crystals out along with all my personal jewelry. He wanted to know their names and called them out one by one. It was a great bonding moment for us. The next day I was on Melrose in LA and a retail associate asked where I got my necklaces. I said they are mine. She said “wow, my friend has one and I love it. I was wanting one for myself, specially after last night’s full moon. I needed a sign or a push to get one.” I was so floored by her that I sent her a customized pouch of crystals when she ordered on line that evening. I reached out a few weeks later and she was talking about her intentions and how she has already felt a huge shift. I can’t get enough of hearing these stories. I love it. I want to print them all and save them. Back to the story- I genuinely felt like my son made that connection between her and I. It was a positive reenforcement that I needed in that phase of the business.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Overpaying monetarily and my time! People are so ready to take advantage of a somewhat new individual in business. It’s funny now because I got through it and caught on fast. When I started, at first I wanted to hire the right people that I thought were better suited for the job. I quickly learned NO, not right! It is best when you are entering a territory you are unfamiliar with, to dive in and dissect it down to nothing. That way you can train your future colleagues and understand how to solve a problem faster with process of elimination. Manufacturing in one to two facilities is easier now. This is because, I used to run to downtown and pick up a part and take it to phase two, three four five six myself to save costs. I’m glad I did this in the beginning because I can’t be taken advantage of now.

However- I will admit to this. Although I learned the ins and out to each step, I realized, where I thought I was saving money I was in fact losing. Why? Because of parking and time. You will hear this a lot in business podcasts and to a certain degree-it’s very true. Time is money! I should have valued my time more instead of saving a dollar here and there during the process of making a piece. So when you hear people say to you “time is money” Really break it down and separate the pros of spending that time short term and long term, then make a decision. What outweighs what. I now know that I shouldn’t have stated the runner for so long. My time is money. Lesson learned.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I honestly don’t know anymore. I really don’t. I know that when I started, EVERYONE I came across said that I’m crazy for mixing raw crystals with 18k gold. I also know that I was told that my design cannot be physically made. I would walk over to the next office to find someone to make me a sample after signing an NDA. This particular design is now my best seller and I have a design patent in all major countries across the globe.

What makes Congés stand out? You know when you are charmed by something but can’t put your finger on what it is. That’s what I want my jewelry to be. Subtle beauty. It’s an awkward answer, but- I try hard not to make just “pretty jewelry”. Everything I design has to be researched and have multiple meanings. I really get deep into it. My friends think I am slightly crazy. But here is the thing- you can trust me, and no one is just a client, I see them for who they are. Most importantly, I take my designs and collections very seriously.

There is a mission statement for every company. I love what I do and value conversational pieces and things that will forever hold meaning. Creating something that makes you feel Safe, Lucky and Loved. That’s my mission statement.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Every piece I have designed has been created to help people. Everything must have multiple meanings and usage. I work extremely hard to be different and unique in a fashionable forward thinking way. I work on new projects on a daily. It might not be ready to be shown the next day-but it’s there. I promise! I have personal and company goals, some to help proceeds go to different causes. There are plans with specific close friends to pick a Wednesday in a month and volunteer with different organizations. There is so much I want to do and expand as a human and as a business.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I’ll give the same advice that I would give a male leader as well. Don’t waiver from your mission and goals. Be fair to your teammates. Also, there is no need to knock off other designers- you have your own story to tell. There is room for everybody.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I have managed a large team- but not in my own company, as of yet. So I do not know if you want my answer, but I will give it anyway. As a leader, you need to be good at finding each individual’s strengths and passion. Give them tasks that you know they will enjoy and flourish in. Challenge them with what they love. When you do this, and you discuss progress with them, I guaranty they will give it their all. I loved team management in the past. I look forward to that stage within my own company soon.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My friends and family help me on a daily. Everyone close plays a role. My family and friends were my first customers. They wear it and people ask about it and they pass on my information to them. I am so blessed and grateful for this.

When I just got into nordstrom.com I was so scared and excited at the same time. There was a girl named Lauren, who was hired for something completely different. She could hear the stress in my voice and said to me “I will help you with this Jazz. We can roll up our sleeves together and figure it out”. She put her own passion and what her job description was to the side to help me with the task on hand. After weeks of working on it together- we made it happen. I am so sad that she is no longer on my team- but she was Amazing and Godsend. I’ll never ever forget that.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Geez, no pressure with this question. I don’t know if I have brought goodness to the world yet. I have however helped many feel Empowered, connected, loved and Inspired by my pieces. I get emails through my website very often from people who feel more connected and grounded; alongside the feeling of a shift towards the intentions they had set with their Signature collection barrel, how the scarab has helped them feel stronger during a transition,… I cry when I read them!

I also donate pieces to silent auctions to raise money for various causes. And now I have a specific design that will have proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetic Foundation. There is so much I want to do!!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Instagram can make such an impact and that I should focus on building that following.

I do not like sitting behind computers all day. It was extremely difficult for me to get into the daily grind of life with instagram. I much rather spend my time with someone at a coffee shop and learn about what they want to do that day. Also, I shouldn’t have to pay an influencer to post about my product. If you like it post about it. If you don’t like it DON’T. This is a controversial subject that I don’t want to get into.

2) Commitment is a difficult word for most.

When I started the business a few years back, it was a time of fear and not wanting to hold on/commit. Slowly I have noticed this shift in humanity where we are feeling the gravitational pull to finding and committing to our inner selves again. Once we accomplish this- we will be able to commit to work relationships, friendships and romance even better than our parents and grandparents generation.

3) Not everyone will take you seriously.

Wow is this true! I have come across many who say they will do something and never do. There was a lot of take take take and Oh ya, I forgot, I’ll get that to you. (like never)

4) You will doubt yourself on a daily basis. That just means you know what you are doing.

Every single day I doubted my future for years. Then one day recently I realized that I make my future. Is doubt how I want to make it? Hell no!

5) Not everything is a simple math problem. There is a lot more to it. Don’t be glum!

I was raised in an environment where critical thinking was something practiced daily. A lot of “if this, then that.” Not so much the case in real life business. You can do the work and do it well and have not taken a step forward. Here is where self commitment and endurance become important factors. Not giving up, watching your own dream with your eyes open on repeat throughout your day. Then, one day, you are right there. Exactly where you pictured yourself to be.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Very simple- unexpected kindness. Lets think about it. If everyone chose a day in a week where they made a decision to pay for the coffee of the person behind them, or drop a case of water near an area that might need it, or …… Allow someone else in the restroom line to go before you, hold the door open for someone at the store (not someone who needs the door to be opened but to anyone). Honestly, ANYTHING. Each person, one act of kindness a week, with no prejudice on social status, gender, religion, or race.

My sons first experience: There was a high school boy who had a sprinkles gift card in line in front of us. He was there with a female friend. We were behind them next in line. The high schooler asked the cashier after he placed his order how much he still had on the card. After the cashier told him; he asked if there is enough to get the kid behind him a cupcake and she said yes. He turned to us and said “ma’am I want to buy your son’s cupcake. I have enough on a gift card”. I asked if he is sure and he said yes. So I said thank you for your act of kindness. I could barely swallow because I was so overcome by emotion. My son started saying thank you, thank you, to him even though I don’t know if he grasped it all (he is 3). The next day, after school- I took my son back to the mall. We stood in the same Sprinkles line and we paid for the next two cupcakes that were to be bought. It was the same lady working as the day before. She remembered and said “thats very cool ma’am”. And the rest of the $20 was her tip for helping out. No one was in line behind us when we paid- so we have no idea who got them. But my son was so happy to know that he was going to make someone else smile in a few minutes. And if he asks me to do it again- I will. Until he is old enough to do it for himself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”- Anatole France

This is in the signature of my emails! The reason its relevant to me is because my parents needed to always remind me that I am doing the right things to get to where I want to be. I always tend to question myself. I need to believe in my own success and that I can and will reach to where I want to be. So its a very important reminder for me.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

If I could sit down with Anna Breytenbach, I’d be forever grateful. I am at a loss of words when it comes to her gift and talents. My greatest desire would be to communicate with any and all animals. I have this unexplainable deep passion to understand them. I want to have a conversation much like you would with a grandparent about their family, migration, hobbies,… There is a special I watched once and I’ll never forget it because I was choked up for hours after. It was about a black leopard with sea foam green colored eyes that was rescued by an amazing couple that would take in animals that have been abused. This one leopard would not budge and was always angry. Approaching it was impossible. Then they brought Anna Breytenbach, an animal communicator. The way this woman spoke to the leopard with her eyes and calmed him down was completely mind-blowing! This woman changed the leopards life as well as the relationship with the rescuers and him. I’m sure you can google it and watch the whole thing. If I can be her even just one time in my life- I would feel like the luckiest person. Don’t get me excited about the possibility of meeting her!

The other person that I would love to meet with is Brain Weiss, the Psychotherapist and author. I must meet himont day. I think he resides in Miami. I have read all of his books and can relate to his studies and would love to have a session with him in hypnosis. There are so many unexplained things about me and my visions. I trust him.

If you guys can get me a lunch, breakfast, brunch, dinner, supper with these two I will be on the next flight out.

John R. Wooden, Head Basketball Coach for UCLA- he created the success pyramid! He would have been a good one, but passed.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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