Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Esther from the Vintage and Retro Jewelry line Esther and Dorothy, based in Poland. Earlier this year when I launched my website, Esther and I shared questions, tips and ideas to running our businesses. Though our items are from very different ends of the spectrum we were both able to help each other out and are now both on our way to have our own successful ecommerce sites!
If you are looking for some “new vintage” and intricately structured jewelry Esther and Dorothy has unique one of a kind items you can’t find anywhere else. Many of her colorful one-off jewelry pieces are made with old genuine elements found by local treasure hunters and put together into a one-of-a kind montage. Just imagine a necklace made with early 19th century findings – there is perhaps an amazing story and history behind it! In addition her retro pieces are made from modern materials such as glass, scrap metal, enamel, and acrylic beads. There is also a “vintage market” with rare finds such as pretty tea cups, silver cutlery and other time-honored treasures.
I talked to Esther a little bit about her brand, her inspiration and her hopes for Esther and Dorothy in the future….
Who is the person behind “Esther and Dorothy”? Describe yourself in a few sentences.
A mature, independent and self-disciplined designer, Esther Gilbert. I live in Poland with my family (husband and two sons and a male cat..) where I realize myself on different levels : professional, maternal, as a designer and as a woman. It is hard, yet I am really pro in organizing and self-disciplining myself!
I divide my time in two : designing and taking care of my business. The laps between the two can be from weeks to months, I don’t hurry to design. It comes with time – inspirations, projects in my mind first before I realize it.
The name of the brand Esther&Dorothy comes from a time when a friend of mine, Dorothy, was to be colleague as a designer, yet she chose to pursue her happiness in Italy. Yet, the name stayed as I really enjoy the sound of it
Where did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started?
It all started in 2000 in Montreal (Canada) – as I was unemployed I was bored at home. Walking one day to Walmart close to my home I stopped by the hobby section. I bought a few boxes of beads, some threads and… I was hooked. I started handmade jewelry designing on a small table in the corner of our home office. And then beaded boxes added up and added up…
When I live in Thailand, Belgium or in Poland I always carry with my beads and stuff to design.
In 2007 I opened in the first retail bead shop in Poland, here in Warsaw, specialized solely in findings, beads and materials needed to make handmade jewelery. I closed down the shop in 2011 yet we are reopening it this year (2013) !
Do you have a favorite product or style of products that you like to create the most?
My favorite product in my shop is :
I remember when I was creating this piece some time ago, the inspiration and creation process went o very smoothly. Actually the pieces came together as by themselves! The positive, yellow and green colors are a good energy and this necklace will, I am sure of it, make the owner very pleased in wearing it.
Where and how do you get your inspiration?
Inspirations comes mainly from the materials I work with : old pieces, vintage findings, some scrap of metal here and another scrap of copper there… like pieces of puzzle. I look at them, play around or just leave it for a day or two and come back to it with a picture in my mind of the final draft. The creation and inspiration process are very bonded together, they live together and are pretty subjective.
When I am really stuck on inspirations, I don’t go to the net but rather to look through my Deco Art or Vintage Art color albums that I collect. There is always some small item of a painting, of a vase or a mosaic that I find that inspires me. I also refer to Arabic Art (of glass, mosaics or ornaments) for various ideas or color combinations. Yet, most of my works comes from my sensitivity and mind work.
Do you have some tips for other small business owners, creatives and people who like to become their own boss?
Seriously, success don’t happen overnight as the saying goes, and this is so true!
Usually after 3-6 months of no sale, most designers give up. I know that as I have been there when I started my first brand – 4 years ago. I gave up to quickly. Now, as I am older and wiser J I know that small steps are much more better than faster and larger ones. I also got myself external help in running my Facebook page and Google campaign. I invest wisely, in good people and a good firm, but not in 4 or 5 different sources, yet in two max. I control, supervise, and observe all from my desk. I give directions and I wait.
Now for me it is time to run my business, I am waiting for the Google campaign to start. I plan to design again in September .. but again, this process cannot be planned as it comes with time J
Another advice : invest in pictures – take good quality pictures, use your friend or yourself as model, use your wall or a gift paper as wall cover – don’t buy stuff! Go very low budget!
KISS : keep it simple and simple – which means keep your pictures clean, product description clean so your customer in India or in Brazil will understand what she is looking at.
Feeling alone in the business/no ideas what to do? Get a mentor or email a person that does similar products to yours! I did that, as I dropped an email to Melissa with question reg. a platform for e-business, and since then, we support each other over distance as we have much similar topics to talk about. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
What are your hopes for the future?
I have a two year plan (mid-long term) is to make my way to the UK and US vintage jewelery customers, starting with the UK first. Next year is starting the campaign for USA, in precisely chosen cities.
Once that will be somehow satisfactory I will turn to Poland. The plan is quiet precise, without surprise.
You can find Esther and Dorothy online at www.estherdorothy.com.
About: Esther Gilbert, the designer behind the brand name, is a self-taught jewelry Polish-Canadian designer presently based in Warsaw/Poland.She specializes in the reuse of old or vintage jewelry pieces by giving them a new ‘jewelry life’. Being a versatile designer, she is deepening her techniques and knowledge by learning and experimenting with new, and almost time-forgotten, techniques and materials. Esther & Dorothy is all about handmade high quality jewelry, design originality and client’s satisfaction. She can be reached at email@example.com and directly on her facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/EstherAndDorothy