Stefanie Says... / color
The currency is Czech Koruna or Crowns. The exchange rate when I was there was about 25 Koruna to one US dollar.
Browsing glass color sample cards over a delicious (and very strong) coffee
A glass pressing machine at the bead factory
A sampling of traditional Czech meals...
Guláš, Beef Goulash (above). A beef stew served with (extra delicious) onions and bread dumplings. Dumplings (either bread or potato) accompany many meals in the Czech Republic.
Svíčková (above). Beef with a cream sauce served with cranberries, whipped cream(!) and bread dumplings. The thick sauce is made from carrot, parsley root, celeriac and cream. Beef with whipped cream!
pečené vepřové s knedlíky a se zelím (above), is often considered the most typical Czech dish... It consists of roast pork with pickled red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Štrůdl (Above. Apple strudel with ice cream!
Now back to the bead factory!
A snowy morning outside of my hotel window
These large coin-shaped beads have just been cut and have yet to be cleaned up.
A bagful of beautiful
My shopping spree in the Czech glass bead factory!
This photo was taken on what may have been one of the best nights of my life (after, of course, my wedding and the birth of my daughter...). Working late to accomplish many things during my last day and night at the bead factory. We enjoyed pizza and champagne and Jamie and I worked on designing a new collection, choosing beads for Spring, and forecasting our needs for the coming year. Now that's my idea of heaven!
A visit to the glass museum in Jablonecs
Then off to Prague!
What a trip!
Dare to Dream! (at the John Lennon wall in Prague)
I salvaged the tiny antique lockets from a vintage jewelry warehouse and breathed new life into them. I even sent some off to a metal plater to get a brand new coat of shiny sterling silver on them, creating a whole new, brighter look.
Below are images of me digging for treasure at the warehouse:
Below is an image of some of the amazing pieces I uncovered at the warehouse:
Below is an image of how I bagged the brass lockets, along with other components, to get them ready to be silver plated.
Below is the first batch of locket earrings I made with colorful Czech glass crystals.
Below is an image of how the locket earrings came out, both in original vintage brass (left) and sterling silver plate (right).
UncommonGoods featured me in their blog today. My obsession with Czech glass inspired my jewelry collection and my jewelry collection inspired their second glance.
“Whenever I was bead shopping I noticed that the richest colors and most luscious finishes in glass beads always seemed to hail from the Czech Rebublic. Often imitated, never duplicated!”
See it here:
I hope you love the new spring color palette as much as I do! Soft teal, bold blues and sweet lavender to complement the budding energy of this season.
NEW for Spring 2015!
This was customer favorite color back in my San Francisco days (before my move East) and I've finally been able to stock these beads again.
UncommonGoods has chosen my rainbow tile jewelry for their Holiday 2014 catalog! See the necklace here and earrings here. If you like what you see, please share it, buy it, review it and read on to hear the backstory...
I love working with catalogs. It's exciting to see my jewelry designs featured in full color for oodles of new of customers to browse all across the country. It's also great or my business because we can focus all of our attention on making one or two styles in larger volumes, and this often helps us be more efficient. A few years ago my jewelry designs were featured in the Pendleton catalog and I learned a tremendous amount from that experience.
Now the Uncommon Goods catalog is in a new league for me. This catalog has circulation numbers in the millions and I absolutely LOVE the creative handmade, organic and recycled gifts they feature. Not to mention a gorgeous website, with a blog, lengthy features on their artists, and an active social media presence. They are also a company that truly cares about their employees, the environment and works hard to run a company to be proud of.
So... when a buyer from UncommonGoods appeared in my booth at the NY NOW wholesale show in January of this year, I was eager to show them around my designs. They were very interested in my Trilogy collection, especially the rainbow mix and ocean mix color palettes. Shortly after the show the buyer wrote to me to request some samples of the jewelry styles she had viewed at the NY show. She requested for consideration the 60" long necklace, the 3-strand bracelet, the triple tile earrings and the wishbone earrings, all in the rainbow and ocean color ways. In the end they finally settled on the 60" Trilogy necklace in rainbow and the matching long triple tile earrings. The UncommonGoods catalog is a bright and colorful publication and the rainbow colored glass tiles really work will with their aesthetic. They loved the versatility of the 60" long necklace because it can be worn long, knotted, doubled, tripled, or even as a wrap bracelet. They placed a "small" order for their Spring/Summer 2014 catalog to test it out and give it a shot.
(Above: Kathryn and I with Rachel, the jewelry and accessories inventory planner from UncommonGoods)
They were happy with the results and decided to carry it over to the 2014 Fall and Holiday catalogs, which they consider a more substantial publication. As soon as they placed their Holiday catalog order we got working right away on the production process of these earrings and necklaces. Before we could even begin making them, I needed to order the sterling silver clasps, ear wires, wire and chain we would need, the stringing wire called Softflex, and of course the colorful glass tile beads from the glass maker with whom I work closely, in the Czech Republic. This particular necklace is unique in my collection because it contains 12 colors, so this means that we had to be sure we had enough beads in all 12 of these colors, plus extra beads in the 3 colors included in the earrings. No small undertaking!
Then we perfected our working samples and got to making. Many of the necklaces were made by local gals who I call our piecework network. These are women, and sometimes men (though not at the moment), who work from home making jewelry. We train them on how to create the pieces and teach them all about the materials we have. They come in to the studio regularly to get a project and drop off finished jewelry. Then Jamie, who is my production manager at the studio (God bless her!), meticulously quality checks each piece of jewelry and occasionally sends an item back to its maker for adjustment or re-doing.
The piecework network is something I am very proud of here on Martha's Vineyard. This island is a very seasonal community and year-round jobs are difficult to come by. I have several women who have helped me make jewelry for over 3 years now and they have been such a blessing to our business. In turn, they have a flexible, creative way to make a few extra dollars throughout the year. Our jewelry-making workload fluctuates throughout the year, and the pieceworkers availability shifts over time too. I give Jamie a lot of credit for balancing the studio needs with the pieceworkers schedules across hundreds of styles and colors. This is a big job and she pulls it off gracefully and joyfully-- though her quality standards are uncompromising! And occasionally, when we are unable to meet the demands with our local network of jewelry makers, I call upon Melinda over at Melindesign in New York. She and her staff can whip up any project I throw at them.
To keep things interesting, Uncommon Goods requested a customization for their rainbow necklace and they asked if I would make that necklace and the exact earring color way (those colors in that order) exclusive for them throughout the Holiday season. Of course I would!
I typically use a sterling silver toggle clasp to finish off the 60" Trilogy necklaces (above left). Apparently, UncommonGoods has received feedback in the past from customers who dislike toggle clasps and prefer lobsters. So I customized the closure by adding a sterling silver lobster clasp with a few inches of chain at the opposite end (above right). The chain allows the wearer to fine tune the length a bit, which is handy when wearing it as a wrap bracelet. And the long Trilogy earrings with the top to bottom order of blue-green-red are exclusive to UncommonGoods this season so you won't find them anywhere else, folks!
Anyway... so we made what felt like a gazillion necklaces and half a gazillion pairs of earrings. Jamie quality checked nearly every single one of them (with a little help from Giocchina, my studio assistant and myself), checking for missed or damaged beads, the appropriate tautness of the wire (not to loose, not too tight-- we call this "slack" and proper slack is necessary for the perfectly supple beaded necklace or bracelet, which I'll have to cover in another blog post), neat crimps at the end of each strand, functional clasp, missed logo tags, and proper length. This was a monumental task. Many necklaces were re-strung or altered in the studio to render them perfect before they made the cut. On your left is a photo of Giocchina cheerfully checking and polishing rainbow necklaces before packaging.
Then it was time to package them according to the specifications that had been outlined in the original purchase order. Each necklace was sealed in a clear ziploc baggie, placed gently on a piece of fluff, topped off with a folded artist story card, then closed up in a 3" x 3" x 3/4" brown kraft paper gift box. The artist story cards have the UncommonGoods logo on front and a photo of me with a quick bio inside. I had previously created these to specification and they were ready to add to each box as we packed them. Each pair of earrings was hung on one of my earring cards, we then placed clear rubber backings at the end of each ear wire, placed them gently on a piece of fluff, topped them off with a folded artist story card, then closed up in a 2 1/2" x 3" x 3/4" brown kraft paper gift box. Phew! Lots of packaging detail right? Yes, but this ensures that each customer gets to open a beautiful handmade gift!
After each piece of jewelry was perfectly packed, the little boxes went into bigger boxes for shipping, and each was labelled with the appropriate purchase order number, style number, vendor number and quantities, not to mention the correct shipping address. Kathryn, my wholesale account manager made sure our paperwork was all in line. She's the one who helps me manage our relationship with the stores and catalogs that carry my jewelry. Here's a photo of me standing by the stack of boxes that went out to UncommonGoods in September, 2014, in advance of their Holiday catalog.
Then all we had to do was wait... wait to see the jewelry in the real printed version of the catalog. I remember that July day that I first found the catalog in my mailbox my husband and I were heading out for a date night and for some reason we stopped at the PO to check the mail on our way to dinner. Weird right? But it was perfect because my first ever UncommonGoods catalog arrived that day, and I could clamor all over it to find my jewelry on page 42. What a sweet reason to celebrate! It looked beautiful. Here's a picture of me just outside the Oak Bluffs, post office checking out the catalog for the first time. I was elated!
Now that the jewelry is in the UncommonGoods warehouse and the catalogs have shipped, the rest is up to our customers (that's you!). Here's hoping the sales are brisk, the reviews are positive, and the re-orders are frequent!
Which leads me to one last point... now that you know more than you may care to know about the life cycle of this rainbow necklace and it's trusty earring companions, do you need some? Must you have one for yourself? If so, please order here and leave me a positive review! Do you love my rainbow jewelry and want to tell the world about it? Please share with your social networks by clicking on one of the blue circles on the product page here. Thanks for reading!
Your Martha's Vineyard necklace is finally ready! This summer, I'm finally ready to launch my Martha's Vineyard Island Tile necklace. It took me over a year to get the island shape correct in this custom-designed tile bead. I work directly with a glass artisan in the Czech Republic and he made a mold for this bead just for us. I currently offer turquoise and ivory tiles... what other colors do you want?
I'm totally in love with this sweet necklace!
Currently available with turquoise or ivory tile, in gold or silver.
Here's the summer lineup of island tiles. Which color is your favorite?
So, we finally did it! We opened the jewelry studio to the public this weekend and it was a success! I am so proud and feel such relief that we are finally OPEN! The space looks beautiful (if I do say so myself), and we welcomed many shoppers, browsers and Pink and Green strolling folk this spring Mother's Day weekend.
Many many many thanks to my studio staff Jamie, Kathryn, Giocchina and Karolina for making this move happen! And perpetual thanks to my husband for support and "physical plant maintenance", and to his burly buddies for all the heavy lifting to get us here.
I've always joked about "blogging". It's the generic term I use for whenever I'm hanging out on social media on my phone or computer, or snapping pictures around the studio, yet I've never actually had a real blog. I do love to write though, and in this space I plan to share my ideas on running a small creative business, creative design, inspiration from Martha's Vineyard and living on island time.
Living on an island on the east coast of the US, off the coast of Cape Cod, I really can't get too much more East. But this winter, we packed up the studio and headed about seven miles southeast, relocating our entire studio, office and retail store front from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown. Things had been starting to get a little cramped in our former location. Confined to one room, set way back from the street, we found ourselves tripping over one another to get work done and help customers, and we were told that we were impossible to find! After a long, dramatic and emotional search some divine intervention occurred and I discovered and pounced on THE BEST STUDIO SPACE EVER. Can you tell I'm pleased? Couldn't be happier.
The new space is located right in the center of downtown Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard's historical whaling port town. Rich with history, good ol' New England architecture, yachts, and fabulous dining and shopping, Edgartown is a great spot for any aspiring young jewelry designer to set up shop. At 12 North Water Street, I'm one of five commercial tenants in my 'new' building. Built in 1703, and known as the John Coffin House, our building is the oldest commercial structure on the street, and it's an old street. Originally built as the home of a wealthy mariner, over the years it has been used as a tavern and an inn. Saved from near demolition (to build a parking lot) in 1946, it is now owned and operated by the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust, a not-for-profit organization focused on acquiring, restoring, preserving and managing our island's endangered landmarks. Thank God! That makes these fabulous guys my landlords.
So this past winter I set about re-imagining our physical space, choosing paint colors, finding furniture deals and drumming up friends and relatives to help with some of the heavy lifting. The space already had a pretty nice paint job, but it was a cool gray-blue with a steely gray-blue floor, so the first task was to choose some warmer neutral colors.
Above are the paint colors before. Below are the paint colors after (for any paint color freaks out there the walls are Benjamin Moore Abalone 2108-60 and the floors are Ferret Brown (eeew!) 2108-10).
That's me in the space. I am pretty tall anyway, but my low 1700s-style ceilings make just about anyone look like a giant!
There is an abundance of natural light coming from all directions here, it's so lovely.
Once all the new paint was up, we set about the great task of moving all of the beads, desks, shelving, drawers, and what not over to Edgartown. Luckily, I had lots of help! Below are some photos of the packing in Oak Bluffs: the mess in the showroom, Jamie, our production manager packs a box of supplies and samples ever so neatly, a silly example of some of our notation around the studio, spooky empty showroom shelves, Suzy, friend and volunteer, carefully secures stacked trays of beads.
Moving all of our beads and findings was a monumental task. Each of the black trays below houses a type of gemstone or bead, and we taped them in stacks for transportation. They all made it safely! Thanks to my husband and our friend Chris for doing all the heavy lifting.
Things were dreamy once we got everything into the new space. It is about three times the size of my old space so even after moving everything over, it still felt roomy! Here are a few shots of those first few days in the new studio.
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to play with color and call it work. My Trilogy collection jewelry comes in a gazillion solid colors as well as a ton of mixed up colors, and I'm always adding more. I'm much better at adding new colors than I am at retiring them, but now and then we do lay some to rest. This spring I've added four new color mixes to work with all of your season's best ensembles.
Tidepools Mix (below)
This is my personal favorite. Isn't it gorgeous? We've got the blues and greens of the ocean but I've added in some earth tones and a mesmerizing avocado green. There's also a completely new blue here, a deep, rich aqua/teal tone called capri blue. LOVE! When I brought my wares to New York this past winter Tidepools won out as an early favorite for the season with retail buyers.
Technicolor Mix (below)
Talk about bold and beautiful: technicolor mix is big, rich color. I've pulled all of your favorite bold solids into one statement of a mix. We've got red (all time fave), purple, periwinkle blue, orange and fuchsia swirl. It's like the beginning and the end of the rainbow all rolled into one. Like tidepools, technicolor mix was a crowd pleaser among New York's retail buyers this past winter at my trade show.
South Beach Mix (below)
Named after one of my favorite Martha's Vineyard beaches where the waves crash, the castles rise, and the people watching is on! I spent more time there in my early 20s than I'd care to admit to any dermatologist. Anyway...South beach is an easy going mix. Perfect for your summer wardrobe, it goes about just about anything and isn't needy at all. We've got pink, spring green, sky blue, white and purple. South beach covers all your bases without over-committing.
Lagoon Mix (below)
Ah, the deep and cool lagoon. Refreshing and uplifting as a dip on summer's hottest day, Lagoon Mix is another favorite of mine. I've added deep yet transparent cobalt blue, the richest of blues, to a lovely palette of ocean blues and green. Customers have loved this mix because it goes well with navy blue. I find it to be super classy and rich looking.