S&S Blog

Meet Jillian & Emilee the Sweet & Spark Co-Founders

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. 

 

Vintage scarves inspiration board 

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.

Sweet & Spark at the Pink Tables at Revielle Coffee

 

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.

Vintage Levis

 

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. 

Jillian & Emilee- Female Co-Founders Behind S&S

 

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.

Vintage Jewelry Flea Market

 

Every first Sunday of the month, bright and early, you can find us at the Alameda Flea Market. While we always love shopping for jewels, day trips like this are so inspiring and often bring about new ideas for photoshoots. We've also been known to bring home furniture and other interior decor in the past! 

Pro Tip

Outdoor markets can get hot on those sunny days. Be sure to wear a hat for a bit of extra shade, not to mention they are the perfect spot to pin a brooch!

 

Count on us anytime for styling help! Email us at styling@sweetandspark.com and we'll get back to you within 24 hours. Make sure you're on our email list to hear about our new collections first and follow along on Instagram for daily inspiration and behind the scene happenings at S&S.

Vintage Jewelry Dishes

shop: all jewelry displays

Meet the artist, Ashley Begley, behind our first ever collection of vintage inspired jewelry dishes (this means, you can actually stock up on more than one of these beauties!). Ashley is a print designer at Lilly Pulitzer and is fascinated by how design has influenced our lives over the decades. With a love for all things fashion and especially, statement earrings, Ashley discovered S&S through mutual friends and was eventually introduced to Jillian, our founder. 

After following our spark hunting adventures on Instagram and seeing our pictures of vintage home decor, she was inspired to hand draw the prints for this collection of S&S jewelry dishes. While Ashley lives in Philadelphia, she makes it out to San Francisco quite frequently and always makes it a priority to visit our studio. We love having her stop by, because not only is her vibrant personality contagious, but because she’s also incredibly connected to current fashion trends and always shares fresh ideas for future collections. Her ideas often make it to our office inspiration boards!

The last time she was in our studio, we got a chance to ask her a few questions about the fascinating process of design and how she came up with the prints for our collection. With an innate talent for expressing beauty through drawing, this is a girl you want to say you know. 

Blue Floral Jewelry Dish

shop: all jewelry displays

1. How did you get your start as an artist? Tell us about your background and career path.

I have been creating, drawing, painting my entire life. I fell in love with art when I was four and have been creating art ever since. I  attended the Rhode Island School of Design and received a bachelors of fine art with a concentration in Graphic Design and Textiles. My passions continue to evolve with a firm grounding in the arts. I moved to San Francisco for a little over two years and was totally moved by the change of pace, and attitude by those on the West Coast. I am inspired by Abstract expressionism, bold brush strokes, and have always been interested in mark making. I have a very gestural hand which translates differently when applied to different mediums in various scales. I enjoy working both on a large scale and small. With the knowledge from my Graphic design degree, I have built an interesting foundation in composition through the lenses of a fine artist. This is where my work converges and I apply structure to my watercolor paintings.

2. Who, what, wear inspires you and why? 

I am constantly seeking out design shows or interior spaces that I feel will speak to my personal design aesthetic. I studied Graphic Design at RISD and concentrated in print design, which gave me a new perspective for typography and composition, things that we subconsciously interact with all day every day . Having this inherent love of fashion though I was, of course, drawn to textiles and surface design. 

3. Where did the inspiration for the prints you exclusively drew for us come from? Tell us more about the design process behind this collection.

Everything I do is hand painted or hand drawn. I do very little manipulation on the computer because I feel it is important to show the gesture in all of my work. I find the beauty in imperfection and love to see the investigation and process in a piece. While working with S&S, we had a very clear direction. We wanted something feminine and nostalgic. We sough out traditional motifs found in a lot of vintage ceramics and china and reinterpreted the layouts to feel a little more modern. 

4. We know you're a huge statement earring lover. What is your favorite pair in your collection and why?

OH my GOSH, I love statement earrings. I justify a reason to buy every last pair and I always travel with an extra in my purse (you know just in case you need to switch it up mid-day). I am THRILLED this is such a huge trend in the fashion world right now. I think it it is the perfect "third layer" piece to any outfit. It instantly takes a basic look to a show stopping statement. My current favorites are a vintage Christian Lacroix  pink and blue drop earring as well as my pearl cluster earrings from S&S.

5. How will you be styling your jewelry at home in your new dishes from the collection? 

These dishes are so versatile on and off of my vanity table. I have a blue and white kitchen so these a perfectly showcase some of my current favorite match boxes on my countertop.  

Count on us anytime for styling help! Email us at styling@sweetandspark.com and we'll get back to you within 24 hours. Make sure you're on our email list to hear about our new collections first and follow along on Instagram for daily inspiration and behind the scene happenings at S&S.

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