We are so excited to welcome fan favorite jewelry brand Brinker & Eliza to the Sphere.
We caught up with the mother-daughter duo behind the brand, seeking to learn why and how they make such overtly in-your-face maximalist pieces we cannot get enough of this summer. We asked all the questions you’ve wanted to know about their origins and what it’s really like working together.
Read on to hear Eliza’s answers to our burning questions. Not only will you be inspired, but you may just find a discount code to Brinker & Eliza’s website, exclusive to Something Navy readers (valid all week 6/06-6/13)! Happy reading and happy shopping :).
SN: You left your corporate job to start a business with your mom. What motivated you to do make the jump?
Eliza: My mom and I have been making things together my whole life. She’s insanely creative, and I’ve always had a more-is-more kind of style. She would help me personalize and up the volume on things I already owned (…basically anything with a surface) by adding beads, gems, pom poms, patches — you get the picture. She also had her own jewelry line, so we’d design jewelry together on the side.
Anytime I wore her jewelry, strangers would come up to me to ask where they could buy it. I think people were responding to the one-of-a-kind-looking, maximalist nature of the pieces, and it made me start to think about all those people out there who, like me, enjoy “playing dress-up” for no reason at all. After responding “My mom made it” for the millionth time, I asked my mom what she thought about setting up a small shop online. We moved forward with the idea in 2017.
Between her jewelry design experience and my background in fashion merchandising, the process felt really natural. Instagram moved things along, too, which makes sense, given that it’s just one more way to ask someone where they bought their earrings. Only this time, I had a far more helpful answer. It wasn’t long before we realized that this could actually be something. By 2018, we’d both left our respective full-time commitments to focus all our energy on Brinker & Eliza, and here we are today.
SN: Such a great story. What do you think makes your business unique in the market?
Eliza: We’re a mother/daughter team with a history of making things together. Our pieces are made by hand in our Connecticut studio (my mom is the creative, jewelry-making genius of the operation), and we touch every piece that gets ordered. Because we’re small and scrappy, we’re lucky to have real relationships with our customers. If they DM us on Instagram or send us an email, we’re the ones who respond.
Another thing that sets us apart — or I hope sets us apart — is that each of our pieces feels special, as though it were made especially for the person wearing it, or found in an under-the-radar vintage shop. I think that’s due in part to two things: 1) My mom is obsessed with vintage anything (from jewelry to clothes to furniture), so there’s always a touch of that in every Brinker & Eliza piece, even if it’s something small, like a vintage watch fob. And 2) Because of my former career, I spent years and years pouring over accessories. Doing so not only sharpened my understanding of what sells and why, but it helped me to reflexively identify the pieces that do have that “special,” stand-out quality. When you work around jewelry every day, everything is pretty and eye-catching and sparkly, so it’s helpful to be able to zoom-in on The One of the bunch.
SN: What B&E pieces does the SN girl need to know/have for summer?
Eliza: The Stop and Stare necklace with heart-shaped-pearls interspersed with rainbow beads has been one of our most popular items since we released it in March. It’s a great everyday piece, easy to layer and can be worn dressed up or down. Our personal favorites of the bunch right now are the Sasco earrings. We tend to love anything striped, but also, they’re really representative of what will always be our style, no matter the changing trends: they’re unusual, unexpected, kind of “a lot,” but so what, wear them on a Tuesday, and the mosaic cabochon toppers look like they were found in someone’s really glamorous great grandmother’s jewelry box. On the less dramatic side of things, all of our huggies were made with summer in mind. They’re earrings you can wear to the beach all summer long.
SN: What jewelry trends do you foresee coming?
Eliza: We try not to think about trends (we’re mostly banking on the fact that people will continue to celebrate a more-is-more mindset for everyday dressing) but, hair-accessories-as-jewelry, like embellished barrettes, will probably stick around for a while and evolve.
SN: What are the best parts about working together?
Eliza: We always knew we enjoyed making things together, but up until a few years ago, that was only a hobby. Actually working together, and leaving our respective full-time careers in order to focus on a joint jewelry line, is obviously a whole other story. But it’s been incredible. Part of what works is that we both have very separate roles: Brinker, my mom, is the artist in this relationship. She’s the one sketching out ideas, drilling holes into shells to see what happens, playing with different metals. I, meanwhile, focus on the business side of things, from marketing to merchandising to sales. Where we come together is in the creative vision. We’re inside one another’s heads that way. We’ll both have the same “craving” for a pair of striped shell earrings, for example. Or one of us will suggest a design solution the other was just about to say. We both feel super lucky that this works, and we’re so excited to see where this whole thing will lead.