FASHION’S FIGHTING SPIRIT
Upon examining a piece of L George Designs jewelry—edgy chain bracelets, earrings, and necklaces dripping with gemstones and fringe—you might think the woman behind the designs, Lisa George, is a longtime industry vet trained in the art of mixing metals, textures and tones. George’s path to design prominence, however, wasn’t exactly planned, but rather an unexpected triumph in the face of two bouts with breast cancer.
George enjoyed a successful 10-year career in Atlanta’s booming radio business before receiving her first breast cancer diagnosis in 2006. She underwent a mastectomy on June 1 that year and returned to work several months later, but the recovery process— both physical and emotional—took its toll. “My spirit wasn’t there anymore,” George recalls. “I just couldn’t do it.”
Eighteen months into her recovery, a visit to Brina Beads in Buckhead set George’s life on a completely different path. “I went in with my grandmother’s cross and some of my mother’s beads, planning to duplicate a necklace I’d seen in a magazine,” she says. “But when I got there, Sabrina Davis, the shop’s owner, showed me how to make a necklace and I ended up just doing my own thing instead.” George, it turns out, had a gift for designing jewelry. That was validated when Atlanta magazine gave her creation top prize in its citywide search for the best designer necklace, a contest George entered on a whim. A flurry of fanfare followed, including requests for custom designs and a bracelet specially commissioned by the American Heart Association to aid in its fundraising efforts. George got her first taste of the national spotlight in 2011, when attorney and TV personality Star Jones not only wore the bracelet on “The View,” but gifted each of the show’s co-hosts with her own to wear. George gave up radio for good that same year and dedicated her time fully to L George Designs. Today, George, who works out of her Buckhead home, counts “Orange Is the New Black” star Lorraine Toussaint and a bevy of CMT stars among her many fans, and her designs are carried in more than 300 shops nationwide.
The designer, who earlier this summer successfully completed surgeries for a second round of breast cancer, which was diagnosed last fall, says that while the celebrity backing has been nice, it’s not the most fulfilling part of her journey. “When putting on my pieces, many women have said that they just feel right on,” she says. “It’s like my energy is really in my pieces now.” Indeed, George’s energy is contagious, and, like her fighting spirit and instinct for style, couldn’t have been gleaned from a design school degree.”
STORY: Lindsay Lambert Day PHOTOS: Sara Hanna