New York based artisan and designer Rose Berger does not fit into the role of a traditional fashion designer. While her work is as labor intensive and intricate as a lot of couture houses, she does not work with traditional modes of jewelry design. She works with metal, chain links, jump rings and rubber rings. Her work for all intensive purposes falls into the spectrum of functional and wearable art.
Here, we chat to Rose to find out more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I attribute the founding of my company to my daughter. In 2005, I made her a bookmark for school from one of her silver charms and a piece of elastic. Soon after she started using it, her classmates, our family, and friends quickly put in requests for their own custom bookmarks. The demand for the bookmarks inspired me to take a silversmith course to make my own charms and with that, my first business, Serenity Bookmarks, was founded. Serenity Bookmarks were sold at the McNally Jackson Book Store in New York City, as well as Etcetera gift shop in Palm Springs, California. Inspired by the breadth of possibilities in silversmithing, I soon found myself outfitted with a designer’s work bench, tools, and workspace in my kitchen. As my skills developed, the creativity started to flow and I started to make accessories including pendants, earrings, and rings, in what would later become the esthetic of Rose Berger NYC.
Whats your background?
I grew up in a small coal mining town in West Virginia. In 1963, my family moved to New York. I eventually started working in a computer data centre for a well known bank in 1975. After over 40 years in the information technology field, I happily retired and turned my full time focus to my designs and starting my business.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
This is a one woman show! I love it because my customers can be assured that every piece is a labor of my love. I’m hoping my sales with increase and I’ll have to hire more help. Admittedly, I’m not the best salesperson, but I’m constantly learning!
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Yes, my piece of advice would be to get a small business loan instead of using my savings and retirement funds.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Marketing has always been a challenge for me. In the beginning, it is a big investment to hone your brand and get yourself out there. For example, new designers may find themselves paying to have a celebrity wear their design for exposure and it will be coupled by the fact that they will likely not ever see that piece again. In 2012, I was selling my designs at a pop up shop in NYC. I was positioned in a booth next to a well-known designer. It was remarkable to me that people were buying the pieces because they knew the brand, not because of the quality. I found myself repairing her pieces several times a week before she could sell them. I knew then that, as I become more well-known, I will never compromise quality.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I sleep with a teddy bear. Secret is out.
2018 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
For the last three years I have focused on designing statement pieces. These statement pieces were worn in New York Fashion Week and photo shoots which was a lot of fun. In the New Year, I would like to re-focus on creating new designs for more practical wear, designs that will be on my website, in gift shops, and jewellery stores. I will focus on silversmithing again and working with sterling silver and gold.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
In 2012, Sarah Gore-Reeves, a fashion editor from “Vogue Mexico”, approached my pop up booth and inquired about using one of my pieces for a photo shoot. As a result, the December 2012 issue of “Vogue Mexico” featured two of my hand designs worn by super model, Coco Rocha.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
New York City.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Moisturiser, eye liner, and Revlon Colour Stay lip colour.
Wear what you want, when you want, as long as it’s black.
Best thing about London to you?
I’m sorry to say I have not visited London yet but I hope to make a trip in 2018. The BBC has some of my favorite TV shows!
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Definitely statement bag. I’m a magnet for bags. My daughter is constantly shopping in my closet for them.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
Black cargo pants, turtle neck sweater, and black ankle boots.
Favourite love song?
Hotel California by the Eagles.
Best place for a coffee?
Koffi in Palm Springs, California.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t understand something. Ask questions.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to travel to Thailand and visit every Buddha statue.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
I hope to expand my sales internationally.
Find out more…