the blog of jewelry designer

June 22, 2015

Vintage is Back

Before my blog post, I have some REALLY FUN NEWS! Though it has been years since we at Elizabeth Showers Studio have sold our Vintage Collection, that’s all changing this Thursday, when we will begin offering a few styles from our classic collection online for a limited time.

During our (incredibly successful) moving sale event last month, my staff was thrilled to uncover a treasure trove of our beaded Vintage Collection!  What a surprise!  Customers ask for these designs all the time, so we were so excited to find them. We hope you’ll be excited about them too.
Be sure to pop in to on Thursday to check out the Vintage Collection!

It’s been great looking back through this collection that meant so much to my career and development. Holding these pieces in my hands really got me thinking about the history of my business, its humble beginnings and its not-so-humble aspirations.

The necklace I have on below (at age 26) is the first necklace I ever made, all the way back in 1997.

Okay, this is actually the first unique necklace I ever made. 
I made my first piece of jewelry in 1996—an anklet made of super-cheap round, smooth amethyst beads. It was nothing special, but it was enough to get me hooked.

That first unique necklace was made of 24kt gold leaf Venetian glass beads, which I popularized in the late 1990s. At their peak, I couldn’t design enough styles using Venetian glass gold leaf and silver leaf beads.  Although very simply constructed, they were so popular and distinctive. If only online shopping had been mainstream then!

I started my business at age twenty-four, driven by a mostly-unexplored talent, blind optimism, and a passion for designing and selling jewelry. Like everyone starting out, I was a portrait of youthful naiveté and cluelessness about how to build a successful business. Though I didn’t have anything approximating a sales strategy, nor anything so straightforward as a written business plan, I possessed an incredible surplus of focus, time, and determination.

My first mission was to make my mark with unusual materials that others weren’t using. When I discovered Venetian glass beads, I understood right away that I had found my breakthrough. Specifically 24kt gold leaf Venetian beads in clear (my favorite) and in colors stuck out like magic in the jewelry scene of those days. They were so distinctive and fresh. I knew I was at the beginning of a fun adventure.

I started selling wholesale at Carol Quist showroom in The Apparel Mart, and southern US retailers started writing orders for my jewels right and left. I was a real designer!

Tootsie’s in Dallas was the first retailer to sell in my hometown. Susie Calmes, the buyer there at that time, is a friend of my mother. She called me and said, “When do I get to see your collection?”
I said, “I need more time to prepare for you. Maybe we could meet in a couple of months.”
She said, “Okay, I will see you this Tuesday.”

It was totally nerve-wracking. It would be an understatement to say that Susie has good taste and high standards.

Tootsies in Dallas

Naturally I was terrified of her reaction to my work. But I’m still so grateful to Susie. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for pushing me to be ready before I was. I showed up with my jewels in Ziploc bags with no price tags, and she bought almost everything I took with me that day.  What a life-changing and affirming experience! It really was an occasion to remember.  Thank you, Susie!
All that was just the beginning of the uncertain road that eventually led to my selling at Neiman Marcus, and onward down the path to a lasting business. 

Some of those early pieces I still love as much as the day I made them. In some others I can see the beauty and the good instincts, but they don’t represent me in quite the same way. But all of them are a part of me, part of the work that has led to this moment in my trajectory.

This is me modeling my jewelry!
I’ll talk more about the progression and development of my business in a future post.

In the meantime, please remember to stop by on or after this Thursday to take a look at the pieces that started it all for me.  You just might find the perfect thing you didn’t even know you were looking for!

Feel Beautiful!