Sweet & Spark co-founders: Jillian and Emilee
Sweet & Spark was born out of a love for vintage and over the years, has evolved into so much more than that! We have been self-funded since we started our business in 2012 and are passionate about sharing our story in hopes that it inspires you to also follow your dreams. We believe that anything is possible and that life is for enjoying!
1. How did the two of you meet?
Jillian: I launched Sweet & Spark in 2012 after being burned out by my corporate buying job. I spent the first few years of business traveling around the country with my vintage loving dad learning how to identify and source vintage jewelry.
I always knew there was more in store for S&S and then the universe surprised me with Emilee! I wasn't looking for a co-founder but I discovered Emilee’s blog and was intrigued to discover someone who loved vintage as much as I do. That’s when things really started falling into place; mutual friends introduced us in 2015 and we quickly became virtual friends. By 2016 Emilee had decided to move from New York City to San Francisco. After spending more time together, we decided that it would be so much more rewarding to work on our passions together. The rest is history!
2. What are your roles at Sweet & Spark?
Jillian: For anyone familiar with the fashion industry, we are considered an iconic merchant and designer duo. I went to Syracuse University for Retail Merchandising and then worked as a buyer at Gap Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters. Emilee went to Parsons School of Design for Fashion Design and then worked as a jewelry designer at Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade.
So this means that Emilee manages the creative vision and execution for Sweet & Spark while I manage the business and product strategies. By having a shared vision and bringing our complementary strengths to the table, we’ve been able to grow the brand into what it is today! Together we've launched our highly coveted designer vintage collection and our favorite feminine clothing pieces that we love to style our vintage finds with.
Both coming from corporate backgrounds, we manage the business very similarly to how a large company would. Emilee kicks off each season with an inspiration board filled with gorgeous imagery and a color palette. From there we align on what the weekly product stories will be and how everything will tie in together cohesively. That’s when we start buying product, scheduling photoshoots and creating content to tell our weekly stories.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Emilee: There is no typical day! Even though the two of us manage different parts of the business, there are a lot of tasks that we do together. Sometimes we’re working on 2-3 different seasons at one time, exactly like a large corporate company would function. That means Jillian is managing the marketing side of things, while I’m concepting and photographing seasons to come.
On an average week, we juggle our time between team meetings, photoshoots, content creation, customer service, buying trips and antiquing.
4. Where do you find the best vintage pieces?
Emilee: We both come from vintage loving families and I still spend a lot of time hunting with my Mom while Jillian does the same with her Dad. I am originally from Dallas, Texas so I spend a lot of time around the south while Jillian is from Western New York and is able to cover a lot of the East Coast. It’s fascinating to see unique jewelry themes from different areas of the country. For example, I find a ton of Chanel and rhinestone pieces in Dallas where as Jillian finds more gold plated essentials on the East Coast.
5. What’s inspiring you right now?
Emilee: As a designer, I am constantly finding inspiration in the things that surround me like museum visits (I have a weak spot for anything Monet or Degas) and pop culture. Of course, fashion week always highlights a big moment for me each season. My eye gravitates towards the uber feminine brands like Chanel, Simone Rocha and Valentino. The more lace and ruffles, the better!
Jillian: Can I say that Emilee inspires me? I'm really good at getting ideas started but then Emilee turns everything to gold. I admire her creativity so much!
I am learning that the secret to her magic is focus. For instance, when we are out buying clothing at tradeshows, we sift through thousands of racks and she keeps us focused on buying only the things we both absolutely love. The pieces we agree on also match the high quality of our vintage collections. We love anything that looks more expensive than it is and that we can each style in our own way!
I have also been feeling less and less inspired by what’s on social media these days so I spend a lot of time reading non-fiction books and meditating. I'm realizing that some of the best ideas come from within! Also, I really love listening to The Glossy Podcast and reading the Business of Fashion for all things fashion and retail.
6. What is your dream for Sweet & Spark?
Jillian: We envision Sweet & Spark becoming the dream closet for today's feminine woman, filled with special pieces that you can't find anywhere else. With time, our collection will continue to grow with some vintage and some new. We love getting dressed everyday and inspiring others to have their own personal style too. Confidence goes a long way; we all deserve to wear what we love, follow our passions and enjoy our lives.
On top of that, we believe that slow and steady wins the race and we're here to experience every moment of building this company together. We both agree that we wouldn't want to do this without each other!
Emilee: Jillian put that so beautifully! Adding on to what she said, connecting with each other and making magic happen together has already been a dream come true. I am looking forward to bringing the whole Sweet & Spark brand to life with my best friend at my side.
We are so grateful for our community here filled with passionate and confident women, and feel blessed to have the opportunity to share our love for feminine fashion and vintage finds with you everyday. Thank you for being part of our story and inspiring women everywhere to live up to their fullest potential!