While the pandemic may seem to be coming to a close, folks in the jewelry industry are looking to really get into the swing of things. Twin sisters Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato are, respectively, the designer and operations director of statement jewelry brand, Lizzie Fortunato out of New York. In an interview with JCK, the sisters talk about the past year for their business and more.
"The first season we designed from home was the hardest," said Lizzie regarding adjustments that had to be made since last year. "The design team would get on Zoom with material from the office or from vendors that would ship to us. We were fortunate that we don’t have a start-to-finish factory, because so many of those were shut down. Our stonecutter is a woman in Washington who works in her backyard; our assembly people make things on their kitchen tables. It’s the most piecemeal [system] ever. Somehow everything came together, but it’s not how I would have chosen to design a collection."
Kathryn continued, saying, "We launched masks, and they helped a lot with floating the business. Our design director recommended it around the time we went on maternity leave, and I will admit that I was skeptical. I said, “We’re not a clothing company, and everybody already has all the masks they need.” That was quite naive of me, and for a low-price product, it became an extremely meaningful revenue source."
You specialize in statement jewelry. What are customers buying these days?
Though the brand is often known for statement pieces, when asked what customers have been purchasing, Lizzie said, "For the past year, it’s been a necklace moment, and people want pieces that feel heirloom-y and keepsake-y. Earrings had been our bread and butter, but for the first time in years, necklaces are selling better."
"Right before COVID hit, we had started to delve a bit into 14 karat jewelry, and we found that people want to invest in things that feel timeless," said Kathryn. "Just as the masks opened up a less expensive price point, we’re seeing a desire at the $1,000 price point on our website in a way we never expected."
"I think shopping took on an interesting new meaning during COVID," Lizzie continued. "People who were working remotely had money to spend because they weren’t taking trips or going to restaurants. Special necklaces that we used to produce in small quantities because they were $795 became the fastest selling items on our website. Our stores kept saying, “We’re selling the things people fall in love with."
Information originally sourced from JCK.