It all started about five years ago, when I moved from San Francisco to Pittsburgh for a career in fashion buying that I thought would bring happiness. As I quickly moved up the corporate ladder, I realized that success and money mean nothing if you don’t feel deeply connected to your gut instincts, surroundings and the people you're spending most of your time with.
With the discovery of Seth Godin and his best selling book, The Linchpin, I realized that it's completely normal to be scared of defying mediocrity. We're taught from a young age to "follow the rules" so most of us ignore the unique curiosities we were born with in favor of living a more "normal, safer life". When we find the courage to push past it, magic happens. I knew that I had more to give than following old school, corporate rules.
On a mission to figure out how the entrepreneurial world worked, I started pouring all of my free nights and weekends into books and figuring out how the Internet worked. The thought of starting my own company and living in a world of possibility was electrifying. While I was manifesting this dream for about a year, before launching what Sweet & Spark is today, I started a lifestyle blog to experiment with the basics of coding, social media and putting myself out there. If you're curious, the original blog is still alive here!
When the opportunity to take a severance package presented itself, I decided it was my chance to start over with a clean slate. I was 27 when I sold all of my furniture, moved back in with my parents and said, “no” to every corporate buying opportunity that came knocking. I spent time soul searching and found myself back out antiquing with my dad like I had done 20 years earlier as a kid. With a newly trained merchant eye, I was amazed by the quality and design of vintage costume jewelry. Call it gut instinct; I knew instantly that I had to give this idea a shot. There was never going to be a better time.
In order to make shit happen, I knew the importance of surrounding myself with likeminded people and decided to make the move back to San Francisco where I spent the next year in launch and connect mode. I created opportunities to meet with everyone I could and ask for advice and favors. Those dates fueled my passion and gave me the confidence to keep moving forward.
Starting is the hardest part because there isn't a recipe for success. No one will ever believe in your idea as much as you do. It takes a whole lot of trial and error and it’s easy to get lost inbetween the macro and micro tasks.
They say 90% of start-ups fail within the first year and here I am today, still standing to celebrate my third year. I’m incredibly grateful for this community of believers, you inspire me to keep showing up every single day. Here are some of my favorite moments from this journey so far....
Ah, the good old launch photos that I took in my dining room with a tripod! Even my styling sensibility has come a long way. Why didn't someone tell me earlier that you don't need to pile it all on at once in order to make a statement!
A few months after I launched, I had no idea what to do next so I asked one of my best girlfriends and she said, "launch a look book!" So I blindly emailed some of my favorite San Francisco style bloggers, photographers and make-up artists and, voila!
This photoshoot with The Fancy Pants Report, Vanilla Extract, LA in the Bay, Natalie Dressed, Apartment 34 and Like Fresh Laundry was by far one of my absolute favorite moments. I learned that you'll never get what you don't ask for.
And before I could blink, the first year was over, my severance money was almost gone but I was celebrating with a bunch of new friends at a Sweet & Spark pop-up shop downtown San Francisco!
Year two was full of collaborations with interns and creatives. To this day, the best part of this journey has been the people. Make time to celebrate and pay it forward whenever you can.
Speaking of the people, there was no better way to end year two than with a month long Spark Party tour. A huge thanks to my mom and friends from high school, college and my corporate days for hosting me in their cities and introducing Sweet & Spark to their communities.
The tour started in San Francisco and continued on to Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City. The hustle is real, you don't build it and they will come. You have to go out and find them.
And sometimes, you're lucky enough that they find you. After our Shop Talk feature on The Glitter Guide, I received the sweetest note from the bride pictured above, Audrey. She's a huge vintage lover and was so happy to have discovered Sweet & Spark. She told me that she traveled to San Francisco for work often and one day, randomly stopped by our holiday pop-up shop. From that moment on, she's been one of my closest friends and I know we will be connected for life. Not only was I lucky enough to Spark her wedding with jewels, but also to be there in person!
My home and office was featured on The Every Girl and while I try not to let material things drive me, there is something incredibly inspiring about working in a beautiful space with bright lighting. Everyday I'm thankful for my tiny office (it's technically a closet) and ability to express my truest personality.
Without Piperlime, I would not be standing. The Sweet & Spark for Piperlime line was an absolute dream come true, featuring vintage inspired pieces based off of my own personal favorites. But, in order to feel the highs you have to know what the lows feel like too and it was a sad day when Piperlime closed this past Spring.
One of the highest of highs was meeting style icon, Olivia Palermo in person and hearing her acknowledge her love for Sweet & Spark jewels. Since then, she's been spotted wearing our statement necklaces on multiple occasions!
And of course, there's the most rewarding part. Spending time with my dad Spark Hunting in some of the most remote places around the country. We've logged thousands of miles together, laughing all along the way. I wouldn't trade those unglamorous trips for the world. They keep me grounded and humble. Sometimes a change in scenery and perspective is all it takes for a brilliant idea to arise.
Thanks Dad, you're truly the best! Without you, this wouldn't be any fun. Never forget my one rule; you're not allowed to wear test the jewels. That's my job!
In a world of information, we have power. It's just about making time to focus because it takes intense dedication and determination to live a life with intention. To be honest, I didn't know a thing about vintage jewelry three years ago. Thanks to my dad's 30+ years in the vintage world and hundreds of hours spent researching vintage jewelry/ business books, I've taught myself everything I've needed to know. Where there is a will, there is a way.
While I don't know what year four will bring, I can promise you that the jewelry will only continue to get better. While the collection started with my personal love for 1980's bold statement pieces, I've learned that the all American gal has an affinity for feminine 1950's fashion. Thanks to you, I've grown not only into my confidence but my personal style as well!