If you aren't already a fan of Fabulous K , you will be now. Kelly Slott is the brains behind this stylish operation, a lifestyle blog that mixes in fashion finds with fun DIY's and the most cheerful pops of color and glamorous patterns. From interior to graphic design, we love her style and charm. Based in Dallas, Kelly's posts are approachable and enlightening--she's captured a style that is at once glamorous and adorable, whimsical and realistic, fun and sophisticated. Fabulous, indeed! (And the fact that she's also a ballet flats-wearing, dog-loving, fresh-flower adoring gal makes us think we'd get along beautifully!)
As with all of our Leading Ladies, we asked Kelly to design a mood board to help us create a necklace together that would reflect her personal style and gather thoughts and ideas for the project. Here are some snippets from her inspiration board on Pinterest:
We first noticed the strong notes of green (from emerald to jade hues) and pink, with a strong emphasis on salmon and coral tones, and the striking references to gold in geometric shapes. And, of course, we couldn't help but recognize the inclusion of rhinestones here and there and knew that would need to be part of the proposal to Kelly.
Keeping these elements in mind, we sent images of the beads we thought might be in line with her mood board--everything from quartz and jade to coral and resin:
And offered some pyrite and golden crystal to capture the metallic touches:
And then gathered up a little collection of vintage items we loved for potential inclusion, some sourced specifically for the project and others on hand in the studio already:
Kelly seemed to know right away which materials she liked best. Like us, she's a visually-driven gal who can edit and curate quickly according to her tastes, and though the drawback of not being able to make the selections in person adds a bit of challenge to the process, it becomes that much more important to rely on the collaborative aspect of the project to move forward. But more on that in a bit…
Working with the beads and vintages Kelly culled from the initial group, we began to create a few designs, arranging the beads and brooches/earrings in loose layouts (the digital image equivalent of an artist's sketch) for her to gain a sense of how various pairings might look.
Once again, Kelly honed in on a design right away, liking the longer length and color-combination of the last layout in the line-up.
She had fallen in love with the tiny faceted bronze-golden crystal beads as a metallic accent throughout the necklace, but we had two "issues" with the selection: first, we had less than a strand left of the beads, so we'd certainly have to use them sparingly in the design; and, second, they were a much richer, darker bronze hue than the more true-golden finish of the vintage sunburst earrings Kelly loved for the vintage element of her necklace. Our solution was to incorporate a gilt brass bead from Africa that complemented the earrings, but also worked well with the bronze crystal, using both beads throughout the mint and coral strands.
We sent an image of the first-draft design to Kelly to see how she liked the overall composition, length, placement of the earrings, and the beads we chose to accompany her selection.
Though she loved the color-blocking and the overall feel, she began second-guessing the mint green glass beads at the back and was hesitant about the African gold beads we had decided to use. We knew exactly what she meant (no pun intended) about the mint glass. In the images we sent along for her to see, the design read much more pastel than a) it was in real life b) she was hoping for and c) her inspiration board had emphasized.
Although all of us in the studio adored the necklace, it is crucial and essential in the custom-design process that the customer (in this case, the co-collaborator) absolutely love what they'll be wearing. That said, it is also key that both parties are willing to compromise (ever so slightly) and trust one another's vision, skill, and instincts. And this is where the collaborative process can be so fulfilling, interesting, and exciting--when you listen to one another's thoughts and opinions AND push yourselves to find a solution you both can enjoy and be proud of.
In an effort to offer an alternative to the mint green and incorporate some of the more emerald hues featured on her mood board, we rustled up some vintage sequins, green onyx, and green crystal to create a richer, more textural mood at the back of the necklace, and sent a quick (read: terrible phone photo) image over to Kelly to compare and contrast:
We both liked the new option, but also really enjoyed the original look…and after letting it sink in for a bit, Kelly stuck with her initial instinct and kept the mint in place. We then began to exchange the African brass she wasn't as excited about for a smaller, faceted gilt brass from India that offered a bit more sparkle, also including the bronze crystal more frequently throughout the necklace's strands to capitalize on their glitter and textural quality. Kelly's intuition on that front was right on--we loved elevating the glam factor with such a small change.
And we loved even more that when Kelly received her jewels, she was over-the-moon thrilled…and exclaimed they were even more beautiful in person. Though we've yet to meet Kelly in person, we think she looks amazing in her new jewels--thank you, Kelly, for being our last Leading Lady of the year!
ENDNOTE (or random musings as we wrap up our 2012 Leading Ladies series):
Working with collaborators and customers from a distance is amazing--the technology available today that allows us to share our thoughts and hopes and opinions has certainly given us (in our tiny town of Taylorsville, Kentucky) an opportunity to work with some amazing women--not least of all Kelly--but her comment about the jewels being even better "in person" only serves to emphasize that there is absolutely no replacement for the real thing.
Whether you're a visual magpie, like many of our Leading Ladies and those of us at Elva, or not--having the chance to hold, touch, see, or--best--wear a necklace is always going to be so much more informative and enjoyable than relying on photographs and descriptions of it. True, depending on one another's strengths and style was a success with this collaboration and all of the others, and we both love the final outcome. (Seriously…could she be any cuter?) Yet also true is that our digital method of communication definitely has a downside, and a genuine sense of quality and the ability to interpret authentic characteristics are entirely lost online.
So, as we head into 2013, we're debating many changes in the studio--hoping to make next year our best yet. (It will be…just wait!) This idea of being personal, personable, approachable, and unique has been a crucial principle since our founding, and now that we find ourselves taking root on a struggling Main Street in a small rural community, we are considering our potential. Perhaps it's time for Elva Fields to open its traditionally-closed doors to visitors and guests, and maybe we'll even keep some store hours--we're missing the personal, face-to-face interaction, and know that there are people out there who enjoy it as much as we do. Stay tuned, friends, great things are in store.