Sweet & Spark co-founders: Jillian and Emilee
There is so much that happens behind the scenes at Sweet & Spark than we have time to share so we wanted to use international women’s day as an opportunity to formally introduce ourselves and answer some of the questions we get asked most often.
1. How did the two of you meet?
Jillian: I originally started Sweet & Spark in 2012 after being burned out by my corporate buying job. I spent the first few years in 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 but it wasn’t until I came across Emilee’s blog and learned that someone out there loved vintage jewelry as much as I do. That’s when things really started falling into place; mutual friends introduced us in 2015 and we became quick internet 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. Talk about serendipity!
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 bringing our different experiences and strengths to the table we’ve been able to take the brand to the next level by solidifying our feminine aesthetic and venturing into new product categories like clothing, vintage scarves and home décor.
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 listing new items on our website and managing the marketing side of things, while I’m concepting and photographing seasons to come.
On an average week, we juggle our time between photoshoots, website & social media maintenance, meetings around San Francisco, buying trips, antiquing and shipping orders. In addition to all that goes into the work week, we can often be found hosting pop-up events around San Francisco on the weekends.
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 live music. 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? Getting to work so closely with a creative mind has been such a gift. I am learning that the secret to her magic is saying no to more things than saying yes to. 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.
I have also been feeling less and less inspired by what’s on social media these days so I’ve been trying new things like watching classic vintage movies and studying fashion designers. I just finished reading a few of Emilee’s coffee table books on Coco Chanel, Vera Neumann and Miriam Haskell. Lastly, from a business standpoint I really love listening to The Glossy Podcast on all things fashion and retail.
6. What is your dream for Sweet & Spark?
Jillian: My dream for Sweet & Spark is to build an authentic lifestyle brand that inspires today’s modern women to be confident in their own skin. I believe that confidence can go a long way, and help other women be the change makers this world needs. Personally, I want to slow down and enjoy every moment of the ride of entrepreneurship with Emilee as this journey has also been such a personal one filled with growth. I am a big believer that in order to survive the uncertainty and noise in today’s fashion industry that you have to have a mission and product rooted with meaning. As I always say, “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Emilee: Jillian put that so beautifully! Adding on to what she said, connecting with each other and making magic happen together this past year 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 helping inspire women everywhere to live up to their fullest potential!
You can find more design inspiration and behind the scenes over on Emilee’s blog & Instagram. And if you’re looking for some business and life inspiration, you can find Jillian on Instagram.