MAKING IT: AMY SHEPSMAN OF FLACA JEWELRY
Flaca Jewelry was founded in 2014 by Amy Shepsman to create affordable, yet luxurious jewelry for women. Featured in national and international publications such as Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, Real Simple, the brand was recently named one of the best new designers to know. In regards to our exclusive design collaboration with Flaca, we talked with Amy about designing jewelry, the challenges of handcrafting in New York and her biggest guilty pleasure.
INTERVIEW BY: SOMI BASATHIA
How did you start designing jewelry?
I started designing when I was really young. My love of jewelry started early and I began stringing pieces and wire wrapping necklaces and earrings when I was just a child. I started selling pieces when I was in High School through college.
Where does the name Flaca come from?
Before I started Flaca, I worked for a manufacturing company doing production work on the bench. The name Flaca, in spanish, was a nickname given to me by a fellow benchmate and means "skinny." It's also a term of endearment and adoration and means "my sweetheart." The name has stuck to this day, and Flaca Jewelry was born.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
Between having studied art at Cornell and living in NYC, I have a wonderful perspective and knowledge of traditional art and contemporary architecture. I allow those two components to inspire my design and designing process.
Who do you feel is the Flaca girl? Who is your ideal customer?
The Flaca customer is someone who wants to look and feel her best. She's looking for quality, durability, and affordability to complete every outfit. She's aware of trends, but isn't a slave to them. She definitely has a free spirited, wild side to her too.
Before starting the line, you worked in the mass and high end jewelry production. What was it like leaving and starting your own brand? What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned from mass and high end jewelry production?
Yes! I've been all over this industry! The biggest takeaway I've learned is never sacrifice quality for quantity. Flaca hits the mid-level price point for fine, fashion jewelry. We make decisions with our customer in mind knowing she wants the highest quality work without having to worry about craftsmanship or integrity. Starting your own company is always scary, there are so many unknowns. I believe in and live by the ethos of Flaca which is to provide accessible luxury to every woman. When you believe in what you do, it's easy to work hard at achieving your goal, and slowly, I believe we are.
If you weren’t a designing jewelry you would be…
If it weren't for math and science, likely a veterinarian. But because math and science are a thing for veterinary school, I'm right where I should be :)
If you had to give someone advice for looking to go into jewelry design, what would it be?
Know your customer and don't give up. I am never intimidated when I meet another jewelry designer (and there are plenty of them) because there is always a market for different types of jewelry. Understand why you are in the industry and stay true to your brand.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a designer hand crafting all your pieces in New York City?
Because Flaca is entirely handcrafted in NYC with locally sourced materials, there are always a lot of challenges. As a fashion jewelry line, we compete with a lot of vendors who manufacture by the thousands overseas for half the price. I am lucky that my consumer is educated enough to understand the value in hand-made goods and likes the artisans touch. Overall I believe the trend of hand-craftsmanship is not going away, so we're on the upswing of a fantastic movement within the industry.
Dakota Johnson spotted in Flaca earrings
Details and quality can make or break a brand in fashion. What are the most important things you take into consideration when designing your jewelry (accessories)?
We painstakingly check and re-check everything to make sure, to the best of our knowledge, everything that happens within Flaca is exceeding our QC standards. Like I mentioned, our customer is aware of the mid-range price point we offer for high-quality designs and materials, so it's always important for Flaca to keep our high standards while our prices stay accessible to the consumer. We guarantee that accessibility and so we do everything we can to ensure it's always offered. We're also aware of fashion trends and design with those in mind, allowing our customers to wear jewelry throughout many seasons to come. Our motto is: under promise and over deliver. I believe if you provide great service and quality product, you're destined to make it in this industry, it's how we're set apart.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
In five years, I see Flaca as a household name offered in every state across the country with a booming e-commerce site. We want to offer style ideas and trends to customers in the easiest way possible!
What is your favorite city in the world and why?
Toss up between Paris and NYC and both for the same reasons: The food and the feel when you're in either place. It's electric.
Thacker x Flaca
What’s your favorite place to grab coffee in the city?
I'm a big bodega coffee gal. There's a big deli on 48th that I frequent for iced coffee. It's not glamorous at all, but they're large, tasty and full of caffeine!
What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Ample Hills in Park Slope. No question. I often tie it into a "let's walk the dog" scheme but really, I'm on my ice cream game all the time.