Meet Lori Frantz-Koenig, another one of our favorite jewelry Artisans! Lori was born and raised in Chicago, coming from a long family line of artists -- where all forms of artistic expression were enthusiastically encouraged. As a young child, she played in her grandmother's jewelry box and fell in love with the sparkle and design of the vintage jewelry. Lori believes those magical moments still serve as a source of inspiration to this very day.
We also love the specific inspiration for Lori's 'line'. She shared with her father a love for old classic- black and white movies. Seeing the starlets in their shimmering jewels ignited a passion in her to create sparkling jewelry. She works with sterling silver, exotic freshwater pearls, unique stones, gemstones and beads, special charms and findings -- and always includes a dash of her signature Austrian crystal.
Lori got her start by brainstorming some high end boutiques that she envisioned as a good venue for her work. She decided to send them small surprise packages, containing one of her best-selling necklaces along with a letter introducing herself. Every one of those stores called her, and she was on her way to actually getting orders! She was thrilled! After a well-known accessory Rep in the Chicago area kept seeing her jewelry in all of the stores she visited- she gave Lori a call and asked about representing her. Soon, the Rep was selling her designs to upscale dept. stores., museum shops and clothing boutiques. She was so successful, she had to find other artists to help her produce, and also find a commercial space and companies that sold pearls, gemstones, and crystals at affordable prices.
Now when Lori designs, she starts by envisioning women who want to add a bit of sparkle to their everyday life wearing her designs. She wants women to feel beautiful wearing her jewelry. And so many have had the pleasure of doing so! Lori has succeeded in selling her jewelry designs to upscale stores, including Von Maur and Bloomingdale's! She also sells via galleries, museum shops, boutiques, and her own website: www.Lorifrantz-Koenig.com
Lori's journey as a jewelry designer began with a few old broken strands of crystals and a vintage Paris pendant. By following her dream and reading books on how to grow a business, she challenged herself each month to be even better, and to learn new techniques. Her curiosity and passion kept her going. Now many years and collections later, she is proud of the jewelry line that carries her name, and prouder still of the companies that she now does business with. Even Hollywood came calling, and she saw her jewelry on television shows, with screen credit! She was beyond thrilled. She had never even imagined that. But it came, like her success, from perseverance and never giving up.
One valuable thing she learned along the way is to create the best jewelry with the best materials you can afford, with the best techniques you have mastered. Her advice is to create 'showstoppers'! Once she creates that statement necklace, then she is inspired to create a collection around it in various price points. Some stores want those one of a kind –"high end" pieces, while others want the look but at a lower price point. Lori believes part of her success is offering wholesale price points that appeal to many buyers.
Here is some advice Lori shared with us -- in her own words. We hope they will help you if you are just starting or in the beginning phase of a similar journey.
- Do something each day- no matter how small-- that will help you achieve your goal. Work with a new product-- experiment with a new technique. Write your goals down and keep them where you see them daily. Find inspiration from the things you love and follow your passion. Create jewelry that you would wear, using materials you love. If you are a pearl girl, work with pearls! Do something that sets you apart- but stay true to yourself and your work. Do you want to sell wholesale to stores, or sell your designs at fairs at retail? There is a big difference! Learn as much as you can about the business and when you do what you love – the money will follow!
- To grow your business it is important to have great photos of your work to show potential clients and customers so they can see the details of your work. Presentation is everything to attract them! Invest in the best camera you can and shoot in natural lighting until you can afford specialty tents and lighting. Before I could afford expensive models, I got help from beautiful girls who work for the beauty salon I go to. In return for some jewelry, they were happy to model for me! Once you have some great photos, start selling your work on Etsy or other similar websites till you can afford your own website. And check out www.Wordpress.com – twitter- and www.aboutme.com to get your work out there!
- Most important is to find what materials you love to work with- what speaks to you as an artist? And don't keep a tidy work space! I have found that if everything is in their special jars or boxes, I don't see them interacting. I want a vision when I work-- and I have come up with some of my best designs from a not so tidy work space.
- If you want to see your jewelry on some famous faces- work with charities they are involved in and reach out to the people who style the stars- start out with your local television station newscasters and always carry a business card! Remember everything is possible- just follow your passion and get in that studio (even if it's just an extra bedroom) and just start creating!
Lori's jewelry shows us that dreams really can come true! If you'd like to learn more about her and see her beautiful work, here are some additional venues:
p.s. If you're interested in checking this out, I think you have to sign up first -- another good way to get your story out there, and Lori is in here somewhere -- you can likely find her if you sign up and search for her by name: www.about.me/LoriFrantzKoenig.com
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Darcy Rosner, Bead Junkie, at: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/bead-blog-rss/100-darcy-rosner-bead-junkie