Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SOF Scoop: Stacy Herzog and Sarah Reid of Frieda & Nellie

Sarah Reid and Stacy Herzog of Frieda & Nellie met when Stacy interned at the lingerie company Sarah was working at. And maybe that was fateful, because the two never had to question how well they, as best friends, would work together. Fate ended up playing quite the role in their friendship-cum-successful business - but only as a compliment to their incredible talent and determination.

With Sarah working as a lingerie designer and Stacy working as a designer at Betsey Johnson, both were at that point in their careers where they were thinking about the next step. But what? When Stacy returned from a trip to Ecuador with colorful friendship bracelets in tow, it started to click. The pair of creative friends (their days already revolved around crafting, baking, vintage hunting, all things artistic) were inspired by the bohemian bracelets and nostalgic for days of making the same types in summer camp.

These friendship bracelets were getting tied onto Stacy and Sarah's wrists, that were already laiden with incredibly unique, special vintage pieces. One day, the lightbulb went on: what if they combined those crafty friendship bracelets with those elegant vintage bracelets? They set to work weaving, knotting, twisting and layering. And it was a little more of that fate, plus a lot of how striking their creations were, that lead to the moment that changed everything: walking near Union Square, a man stopped Stacy and Sarah because he was so taken with their bracelets. That man happened to be an editor at WWD. Putting their MacGiver-like smarts in action, Stacy and Sarah took that attention as motivation to have a trunk show - they bribed a doorman not to show a vacant apartment for a few hours while they set up shop and invited friends, family, editors and assorted press. The next day, they were called in for an interview at WWD, and soon after, a half-page article in the paramount magazine changed everything. That week, Stacy and Sarah quit their day jobs.

The name of the company is for Stacy's two grandmothers, Frieda and Nellie. The line perpetrates the spirit of amazing, strong, individualistic woman in everything it does. Every one-of-a-kind piece has a story. Every piece is special, hand-crafted and lovingly dreamed up. And that's caught the attention of the industry because so few other lines are doing something anywhere nearly as unique and thought-out and genuine. They've only been in business since February of 2010, but have grown quickly. They started making jewelry on the floor in Stacy's apartment, then in Sarah's apartment, then they rented an East Village apartment as their company's space - but outgrew that in no time. Their Flatiron space is all them: a vintage space (a ninenteenth century mansion) transformed with their radiantly hued, sparkling creations and whimsical art. Their space is the headquarters of their line both physically and artistically - plus now, their significant others have a little more space from the jewelry-making. "Sarah's fiance found jump rings in his slipper," Stacy laughed. "And there was a ring in his shoe the other day!" Sarah adds. It's true the designers' work bleeds into the rest of their lives, but they wouldn't have it any other way - you don't need a nine-to-five when what you're doing is your ultimate passion. "Sarah has said that getting me and my dog out of the office every night is like herding cats," Stacy jokes - well, a joke that's also quite true.

The pair's success is a sort of obvious movement in the very existence of their line - the fact that they were able to leave their day jobs behind and keep growing and growing to become this sought-after line. But it's been marked by concrete highlights along the way, too - they've partnered with J.Crew to create a capsule collection of their beloved friendship bracelets, and their designs can also be found at Barney's Co-Op, Henri Bendel and Fred Segal, to name a few. Their collaborations to come are sure to not just please, but dazzle, thanks to their innovation and willingness to think outside the box. Stacy and Sarah go beyond fashion to work with artists and tastemakers of all different cultural platforms, embracing the art and worldly surroundings that inspire them as potential for new twists to their aesthetic. These collaborations also come as a result of the duo's determination - in an attitude that anyone looking to start their own business or venture would find incredibly motivating, Stacy stresses the importance of reaching out to anyone that inspires you that you'd like to work with - why not? "Until the answer is 'hell, no,' we don't see a reason to give up." Not surprisingly, Frieda & Nellie hasn't got a "hell, no" yet and probably won't ever.

  There's something infectious about talking with Stacy and Sarah, and it comes across in every piece of jewelry they make. You don't often meet people who love what they do this much. They pour every ounce of energy into it - and they have tons of energy. And there's something really special about buying friendship bracelets from a line helmed by two actual best friends. "We bicker, we disagree, of course that's going to happen - it's like when you're sisters, you know you can argue or disagree about something but at the end of the day, it's okay - they have to still love you!" Stacy and Sarah do agree wholeheartedly on this point that Stacy makes. Stacy explains that both of them love hearing stories and telling stories, and these stories are woven into their jewelry. They're the stories of friendship, the stories of their incredible grandmothers - all of our incredible grandmothers and all of the amazing women of past and present - the stories of traveling the world and hunting for vintage treasure. And they really do make to work Frieda & Nellie jewelry - already so amazingly unique, special, cool, chic, edgy, elegant and charming at once - strikingly different from any other jewelry out there.

Handbags and Hugs,


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