Monday, June 16, 2014

Inside the Designer's Studio: Erica Weiner

My never-ending search for the next best sample sale led me to Erica Weiner’s Greenpoint studio in March. It was 5 PM on a Sunday and I had spent the better half of the day seeing Craigslist apartments in the flesh around Manhattan. The fruitless housing hunt left me needing to destress in the only way I know how: by surrounding myself in a room with wearable objects available for purchase. I stood on a corner by Union Square and scrolled through my inbox until I found a sample sale that the investigative shopping journalists behind had deemed worthy, and so I headed to Erica’s studio. I didn’t realize until I got there that the sale was cash only, so I bought a five dollar bangle from the seven dollars cash I had in my wallet.

Fast forward/flash back to a few weeks ago when I went back to Erica’s studio to ask her about her #creativeprocess and find out how she wound up a Brookyln-based jewelry designer. Context alert: she’s from the New Jersey town that neighbors the one in which I grew up.

In true autodidactic fashion, Erica taught herself how to sew when she was in high school. She went off to explore the liberal arts for college and majored in art history at Vassar. Her foray into the world of wearable art began when she was studying abroad in a textile program at the Glasgow School of Art. After graduating college, she got a job working as a costume manager of a Broadway touring company, where she learned how to make things on both a budget and a tight schedule. She ditched the theater after two years and entered the high fash-un industry as a patternmaker.

Jewelry making began as her side project, but once she walked away with wads of cash from selling her charms and chains at a Philadelphia craft fair, she knew she was onto something. In a case of being in the right place at the right time, she snagged one of the first five vendor spots at the Brooklyn Artists & Flea circa 2006.

The trademark pieces that catapulted her from flea market artisan to established jewelry designer still make up much of her business, though she’s since expanded into the antiques sphere. She and her business partner go antique hunting in treasure troves in London and Maine and either sell their finds in vintage form or modify them as part of her 1909 line. Anywhooze, she’s got something for everyone--from brides looking for an antique ring to lil’ old you and me in the market for an airplane charm necklace--all of which you can check out here.

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