'I started my company around eight or nine years ago after I decided I didn't want to be in the fashion industry anymore. Initially that's what I thought I wanted to do. But when I got out of college and actually started working, I was like, 'Fuck, no.' I didn't want to schmooze and go to parties with these people who were just personalities—I wanted to make things. I've always been inspired by antique objects—when I first got to New York, I was working in costuming on Broadway, and we would get to be up close and working with all of these period clothes. We were doing this production of Annie, which is set in the Great Depression, so it was my job to find, make, or rent a police helmet for this policeman’s costume that was period-appropriate to the 1930s...and I had a day to do it. I love that kind of challenge. Then we worked on the show Cabaret and had to find 60 pairs of mid-1930s soft bras. I bought them and then altered them with modern panels of stretchy material so the dancers could actually dance in them without ripping them because they didn’t have elastic in them. I loved that shit and did it for three years.
After that I started doing pattern and sample making for the clothing brand Imitation of Christ. A lot of that was focused on production management—I really got to know the world of all the best specialty people in Midtown...who does the best zippers, buttons, stuff like that. So I thought I'd go into another production job at another company, but instead I just started making jewelry. At first, it seemed like a nice hobby—I found some cool little pieces that were cheap and portable, and I would play around with them, but then I started getting good feedback from craft fairs I was going to. Then I got a big order from Anthropologie maybe four months after I started. They were like, ‘We need 10,000 units in six weeks. Can you do it?’ and I was like ‘Yup!’ Like I said, I like that type of challenge, and I found a way to do it. Startups weren't so much of a thing back then—and ecommerce definitely wasn't either. I got a friend to help me build a website because Etsy hadn't even been invented! Now we have a store and e-commerce is huge for us—we just did our first online sample sale, and it was so successful.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENGAGEMENT RING
I'm very into the wedding and engagement-ring style right now. They're so sentimental. People have been giving them to each other for so long...everyone has a moment with their ring. Men come in to buy these rings, and they’re sweating. They need to sit down or ask for our advice—seriously it’s crazy. It has so much to do with money and love and commitment and fear. It’s a big moment. Sometimes, they're spending more money than they ever spent in their lives. Finding great antique rings is like hunting and gathering—people who collect jewelry are totally nuts usually. We go to London a lot—to the public markets to find pieces. They're sort of there to rip tourists off, but once you start asking around, you figure out the right places to go from there.
I don't wash my face in the morning because I have really dry skin, and my friend told me that at night, your body makes all these special oils and stuff that’s trying to protect your face—it leaves like a mantel of the good oils and bacteria. And once I stopped washing my face in the morning, dryness was gone. I mean, sometimes it’s super oily, but I like oil. I feel like I need it. Throughout the day, I'll moisturize dry spots with this Palmer's Coco Butter Formula Swivel Stick that looks like a glue stick. At night I'll switch between neroli essential oil or Rodin Olio Lusso. The scents fade fast, but they're quite relaxing when you're putting them on.
Instant gratification is big for me. If it doesn't make me look better instantly, I'm not going to use it. I’m sure everyone talks about it, but this Clarins UV Plus HP Tinted Daily Sheild SPF 40 is awesome. It makes your skin look flawless, which is great because otherwise I'm terrible at putting on sunscreen. The Kiehl's Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50 is also really nice and not as expensive. When you put it on, it feels like nothing—not gritty at all. During the day, I'll carry the Kiehl's Blue Herbal Spot Treatment—I'm not prone to it, but I keep it in case I get a really terrible mega zit. When I'm stressed, I'm a picker, so if I put that on, I feel like I won't mess with it. It's a good solution.
At night, I always use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser to take off my makeup. After that, I immediately moisturize. Sometimes with coconut oil, but recently I’ve been using Decleor's Aroma Night Essential Night Balm. It was recommended by this aesthetician I had in Chicago, and it’s so intense. I put that all over my face including my eyes, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do. Tata Harper Aromatic Bedtime Treatment smells really nice—I put it on my breasts and just vibe out with this smell. I don't love fragrance during the day, but it’s not going to distract or annoy me while it's melting into my skin at night. Sometimes I'll put Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye Concentrate on my eyes, then coconut oil on my hands and legs. I drink a huge pot of tea throughout the evening, too—some sort of herbal mix from this a shop on Atlantic Avenue that's near our store there. My parents live in Maine, and they harvest mushrooms there for chaga mushroom tea—that's good, too.
I just learned how to do eyeliner in a way that looks somewhat grown up with the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil. I do the top lid and then just the inside corner of the eye and waterline. My business partner was like, ‘Looks you need some help here.' [Laughs] Then I'll add some mascara to make my eyes look more alive, like a woman who can be taken seriously. I started doing it all like six months ago. I’m not loyal to any brands really, but I do like Ilia and Dr. Hauschka's Volume Mascara—they're not waterproof, so it comes off easily when you wash your face, and they don't burn my eyes if it flakes. I guess I’m allergic to some mascaras because it burns like hell.
I was getting ready for a wedding earlier this year and a woman recommended MAC Lipstick in Hot Tahiti to me because it sort of looks like you’re not wearing lipstick—it just looks like lip color. I put on a few layers and that's enough. I still have some leftover Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey that's probably expired...it's sort of the same color as Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment in Berry. The Fresh one smells really good, though. Then I have Glossier's Balm Dotcom. I put it on before I leave the house, and it stays for long enough. I'll still carry it around for touch ups though.
I spend most of my time trying to make it look like I have more hair. I have friends who swear by prenatal vitamins—they're just calcium and zinc. I take Chinese herbs but not for beauty. They're called Culing Pill Herbal Supplements and have the added benefit of making everything balanced, so your skin looks freaking amazing all the time. But my hair is still sort of sparse, especially in my eyebrows. I fill them in with the Instant Brow Pencil from Benefit and just pluck strays.
I wash my hair every other day. It’s fine and kind of oily, so I’ll use hair powder—either the Bumble and bumble Prêt-à-Powder or this delicious-smelling Lulu Organics Hair Powder in Patchouli + Amber. It makes my hair look a little fuller while taming the frizz. Then I'll dab on some Bumble and bumble Grooming Creme or Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam. Any combination of two things seem to work.”
—as told to ITG
Erica Weiner photographed by Tom Newton. Read Soraya Silchenstedt's Top Shelf here.