Last week we sat down with Rachel Marie, the owner and founder of Rachel Marie Designs Jewelry. She shared the story of her small business, her plans for the future, and tips for caring and for styling your Rachel Marie pieces. Be sure to visit our Rachel Marie trunk show next week to see her new pieces and receive exclusive discounts.
Could you share the history of your business?
When I started making jewelry I was doing beaded jewelry and small pieces that were one of a kind. I had a trunk show at The Clothing Cove when I was twelve years old, and that's after several years of putting together little pieces and giving them away to my mom and my aunts. Eventually, I got a collection together that was sterling silver and Swarovski crystal and sold that at The Clothing Cove for a trunk show and that's on my bio card: 39 pieces and I made a thousand dollars. I was like, "Oh my word, I never have to work again in my life!" Years later, I'm like, "Oh, a thousand dollars doesn't go all that far when you have to buy all the supplies and materials and you're paying for overhead and for people to work on things.
How do you get inspiration for your pieces?
Now we have about seven women that are working with us and helping make pieces. We're at over 120 boutiques countrywide, and we are always looking to assist the stores in helping their customers. When we design jewelry, we create with the customer in mind because we look at the latest clothing trends. Rather than building accessories with colors that we like, we make them so that the client can wear them with outfits they've been buying for the current season. A lot of our inspiration comes from what's trending clothing-wise and what the stores already have coming in. We want customers to be able to have a multi-functional piece they can wear with jeans and their cute little T-shirt or they can wear it at to dress up their favorite little black dress. Rachel Marie Jewelry is also perfect for a Mother of the Bride, bride or even gifts for the bridal party.
How are the trends in your jewelry related to fashion trends?
You want jewelry to go with what's current in the market. We create jewelry that has a black or neutral base because we want people to be able to wear it all the time. That's why you buy jewelry, right? Because you love it and want to wear it. That's something that's paramount to us.
Each year Pantone puts out their color palette. Sometimes it's something you can work with, and other times you just play with it. This year's featured color is Greenery, and green is a very difficult color to utilize. Going off that, we used a light color called Crystalite, and it's a beautiful, soft green. We mixed it with blues and with White Patina, which has color flecking, and also Silk. We call that our Sweet Dreames palette. It is fashion-forward and incorporates colors that are "this year," but then people understand they can still wear it with jeans. People aren't going to be able to wear a green necklace wherever, so we use a lot of Pantone colors to get inspiration for what's trending. When we go to trade shows, we look at the different product lines that are offered to get an idea of what people are seeking. There are certain colors that are always considered spring or fall hues, and we mix and match those into what we are working with for our palette that year.
We also offer unique designs for special events. For instance, when a group is looking to commission hundreds of pieces for a "Go Pink Party", even if it's not a color that we're offering in our palette, we can create custom pieces for our customers.
How would you describe your jewelry?
We use Swarovski crystal. Our bases are lead and nickel free, and they're plated in Europe, which means it's fine quality plating. Brass is the base for everything we use, and is naturally anti-microbial.
How do you find customers?
We are particular about what stores we pick up, and we want it to be well represented. The Clothing Cove is one of those places. The staff is knowledgeable, and understands the Rachel Marie Designs' story, why the product is worth what it's worth, and that it's made locally. That's so important to so many people because when you buy something that's made locally, you are affecting all the people involved in the creative process and their households. It means so much when you're buying one pair of earrings from a local designer that ends up creating jobs for people who are your neighbor or your friend.
Do you create pieces for brides?
We do some bridal party jewelry and bridal jewelry. We do some select pieces that come in white and white opal or ivory pearl. We put that together for bridal parties. Many of the styles are a perfect accent to the beautiful gowns, for the Mothers of the bride and groom, available at The Clothing Cove.
How do you recommend storing Rachel Marie jewelry?
When you remove your jewelry, wipe it down with a cotton cloth or a clean, dry towel because you'll want to remove any oils or residue. Any plated surface that touches oils from the skin will eventually have a break down to the finish. When you have a plated jewelry, you never want to clean it with jewelry cleaner. Jewelry cleaner can be caustic for anything other than precious metals, including plated surfaces and even steel. What we just say is "Clean, dry cloth." Clean it, then put it back in its bag or your jewelry box with other plated pieces. You don't want to put sterling silver or gold - which are pieces that are oxidizing all the time - next to your plated items because it will cause them to oxidize and pull the finish off.
Do you have any tips for layering necklaces?
We do offer extension chains on most of our pieces so if you have one neckline that's high and a neckline that's low, you can use that piece for both necklines.
We also want you to layer your jewelry because it's fun! It's a trend; it's something that's going on in the fashion world. So if you're buying two pieces of Rachel Marie jewelry, you can layer those together. We offer 16, 18, 21, 24, 32, and 35-inch necklaces. You get an extra 3 inches with every necklace when you add an extender. We add the extender so you can mix and match those pieces and layer them. Typically, you want to do things in odd numbers. You can do one small piece, a medium piece, and then a long pendant. You can recreate the same look with bracelets: single piece, three pieces, five pieces. "It's always better to have more sparkle, " we say!
What has been the most unexpected part of owning a business? Continue reading