Sunday, April 25, 2010

Letting Go Part 1

Jewelry designers are a fierce bunch. Passionate, articulate, intense, talented beyond. I am amazed at the glittering, sparkly fantasies they create. And every single one of them comes up with the most amazing ideas and go for it. And if they’re lucky, they get to sell their jewelry for a living. But a lot of jewelry designers are still working full time and working under the Ott light in their studios till the wee hours because they just have to get this idea out, this idea that’s been in their head since lunchtime, since yesterday, since last week. The idea is born: a necklace, a bracelet, a pair of earrings.

They go and start selling their masterpieces. First at the local craft fairs, street fairs and festivals. They get interest, they get buzz, a blurb in Lucky magazine! They get into the New York Gift Fair! Whew! How will they ever keep up the pace??

At some point, you need to find some help. Find someone who knows where you’re coming from and can meet your needs. It’s very hard to let go. You don’t want anyone stealing your ideas, You don’t want anyone pilfering your designs. You don’t know if anyone could possibly be as good as you in making your creations. You have to find someone you can trust. Someone you can spill your secrets to and they’ll be able to run with it and make your jewelry design business shine under your direction. You are the boss, you are the one who dictates what you want and how you want to execute your work, your aesthetics, your vision. When you find that trusted team and delegate the production, you will just open up to new ideas, new designs, new growth. But how do you find someone you can trust?

Jewelry assembly is a tricky subject. Will my necklaces, bracelets, earrings not be mine if someone else is handcrafting them just like I would? Is it still mine, if not made by my own hand?

Let’s take an example of what hand made, HANDcrafted means in the word, haute couture. It is a protected name in France and what is decided by the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, is that a dress is made from high quality, expensive fabric and sewn in extreme attention to detail by HAND by the most experienced and capable seamstresses. They use time consuming, exacting techniques that are executed by HAND. THEN the design house must follow these rules:
  • Design made to order for private clients with one or more fittings
  • Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least 15 people
  • Produce at least 35 outfits, twice a year for the French press that includes daywear and evening wear.
Does Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St Laurent, Pierre Balmain, Christian Lacroix, Balenciaga, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Valentino, et al, hand make 35 dresses twice a year by themselves? No. AND they have AT LEAST 15 people working for THEM. They have the creme de la creme of seamstresses, embroiderers, milliners, pattern cutters all have had their hands on that one dress. Their most trusted team, people that have been with them for years, loyal employees that with the wave of the couturier’s hand, know exactly what he or she wants and away they go to hand sew, hand construct (produce) that collection. With the designer’s name on it.

Find that team for yourself. Find a loyal, trusted team, your own atelier that will work with you and give you the help you need. Start small and build the trust. Please read Letting Go Part 2 and I'll let you know how to let go of studio clutter!


red said...

Yes Melinda you make a great point about the Greats not handcrafting everything themselves. If they did I am sure they wouldn't be where the are today. Bravo!

red said...

Great point! I am sure if Karl was making his own designs he wouldn't be where he is today. Bravo on your first blog!