Interview | Elisa Solomon
YOU STUDIED METALSMITHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES FROM THAT TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
“My mom attended school at the University of Michigan and during family visits prior to my enrollment, I knew it was the place for me. I was excited to attend Michigan because I wanted to take amazing art classes combined with a more traditional education. The campus is very classically beautiful and there is also an extremely arty, bohemian feel to Ann Arbor. I was really entranced by my classes, professors, and the fact that I was starting to realize what I wanted to do for a living.”
WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE YOUR INTEREST IN JEWELRY?
“Again, with my mom! She has always collected jewelry. As a child, she taught me about costume, Native American silver, antique Victorian, and the coolest contemporary, artisan designers. I loved checking out jewelry with her and my love for jewelry continued to grow with time. In high school I was very into drawing and painting, and I loved sketching clothing. But, imagining designing clothing didn’t fit my soul the way jewelry does. I love that jewelry can be passed along.”
TELL ME ABOUT LAUNCHING YOUR FIRST COLLECTION.
“I interned in Manhattan for major jewelry designers every summer, and I also worked for Steven Alan. Before my senior year at Michigan, he saw some of my pieces and offered to sell them at his Tribeca store. He sold a grouping of my jewelry and I met with him during the school year when I was able to visit New York and dropped off more new styles. A super exciting moment for me as a senior in college was when Ashley Olsen bought one of my necklaces! It was amazing seeing her sporting my necklace in magazines!”
WHO HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
“I learned a lot during my internships and when I was working for other designers before focusing full time on my own collection. At the same time, I trust my gut and have always listened to my own instincts. I think I have done my own thing and I am happy with the results. Ten years later, I know what I like to make, the kind of people I like to work with, and I really love what my company stands for.”
WHAT INSPIRES THE AESTHETIC OF YOUR JEWELRY?
“My jewelry is inspired by the Sixties. I am constantly entranced by anything hippie-related! I love the fashion, the beliefs, the music, the hairstyles….I could go on and on. I am also inspired by Native American culture. The deep connection to animals, the symbols, the spirituality…I find it really interesting.”
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE FASHION PRESS.
“I was very fortunate when I launched my collection full-time that I had editors who really responded to my work. My necklace was featured on an amazing Lucky Magazine cover almost immediately. I was lucky that I emailed a lot of top editors and they met with me. Since then, I have always kept in touch with the editors and it is so fun hearing which new pieces they love.”
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIRST RETAIL ACCOUNTS?
“My first retail accounts were very exciting. I was very focused on pleasing the buyers and sales people. It is important to me to have good vibes with everyone I work with. I loved visiting the accounts to see my jewelry and my name in the cases…I guess I have to say I still do!”
DO YOU DESIGN CUSTOM JEWELRY FOR CLIENTS?
“I receive a lot of inquiries about custom jewelry and it is something I would love to start doing more often. It’s hard to say what my favorite custom piece of jewelry is, but one of my favorites are the earrings from my wedding. They are made of 18 karat white gold and feature flowers made of pear-shaped rosecut diamonds. The bohemian flowers dangle from earwires set with white diamond melee. I definitely have made incredibly meaningful pieces, like my wedding band and my husband’s wedding band.”
ELISA, WHO ARE YOUR STYLE ICONS?
“My style icons are all the ladies of Woodstock! And the men! I love looking at pictures from the music festival. The bell-bottoms, fringe, daisies in the hair, vests, love beads, scarves – amazing! Before my birthday this year, I visited the site of the music festival in Bethel, New York and it was so spiritual. There was a peace sign carved into the grass where the festival took place and I was super charged up to make new pieces upon returning home."
WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
“The most rewarding part of my business is being able to be creative. I love making things. In this business, not everyone actually makes their own jewelry. I am very proud that my hand is in every single piece that comes out of my studio.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE RUNNING YOUR COMPANY?
“The challenges for me are really just finding a way to balance everything. I have so much support from my husband and my family. Still, I do my own PR, manage my accounts, and most important, make all of my pieces. I wear a lot of different hats and I always try to make sure I am keeping on top of everything.”
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
“I am very motivated by my family and my passion for art. They find my company to be very cool and they are very proud! My love of art is so powerful. I feel so much joy from sitting and creating a new piece!”