One of the wonderful designers showcased at Chictopia 10 was the husband and wife team, Craig and Lauren, behind Corvus Noir. Corvus Noir is a jewelry line that takes vintage finds and reworks them into one-of-a-kind jewelry treasures. Currently, they offer three different lines at different price points, so there’s something in the store for everyone. For those who missed the presentation, here’s an interview with the great minds behind the line.
How long have you been designing Corvus Noir?
We’ve been designing Corvus Noir reworked vintage costume jewelry since January of 2009. In April we had enough handmade, one-of-kind pieces to start selling at the NYC designer markets and online. We had no idea things would get moving so quickly, we’re thrilled.
Who wears Corvus Noir? The client you envision when you design?
When we started out, we thought our customer would be the fashion forward 20 or 30 something who loved mixing vintage into their modern wardrobes. We’ve spent almost every weekend since April selling at a market and learned quite a few things. Our customer base is a lot wider than we’d anticipated. We have a cult following of young people that love our jewelry, but we also have an older set of customers that remember when the reworked vintage styles were originally popular.
Honestly, I design pieces that I’d love to wear. My wardrobe’s mostly vintage and I take pride in knowing that everything I make is handmade and one of a kind. It’s important to have items that are unique, well-crafted and won’t go out of style in a year. Our customers have strong personal style and they understand that they’ll be getting a rare piece that is made to last.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Craig and I are addicted to Mad Men. The vintage fashions on that show are so inspiring. Betty and Joan are seriously glamourous. I started making the gold chatelaine pencil necklaces because of Joan, she always wore one around the office.
Whenever I’m working in my studio, music is playing. Craig is obsessed with indie and electronic music. Every night he’s downloading new releases and sneeking them into my iPod. I’ve been listening to a lot of Junior Boys and Spoon lately. Pandora.com is a good friend of mine, the Rat Pack and Motown stations are my faves.
When you design a piece do you let your finds sort of “speak to you” or do you go in with a specific design or idea in mind?
I let the piece speak to me, but after making hundreds of necklaces it starts becoming instinctual. The focal point is usually the pendant, so sourcing is very important. When buying vintage, you need to have an open mind and be patient. Looking for something too specific can make things real difficult. The beauty of vintage shopping happens when you discover an item you never knew existed and it exceeds any expectations you could have set. I have a couple huge boxes of vintage chains and rosaries, I sift through them till I find three or more chains that complement each other.
Do you have a favorite find?
I bought a pair of silver lorgnettes from the 1920s for $10 from a street vendor. When I brought the piece in to sell at the market, a colleague noticed some hallmarks on the frame looked like gold marks. I took them off the table and had them appraised from a few antique dealers. I discovered that the frames were white gold-filled frames and were worth around $200. I saved them for my personal collection… looove these little steals.
Do you ever have trouble selling your pieces, meaning you would prefer to keep them?
Most definitely, it happens ALL the time and drives Craig crazy. If a piece is too valuable to sell at a reasonable price or has some sentimental value, I put it away in my overflowing jewelry box. I am also building a personal collection of special pieces that i can wear to promote my designs.
Any funny stories related to your jewelry line?
I think its funny when customers struggle to say our name, like we’re going to be upset if they say it wrong. You can say it any way you’d like and in no way will we be offended. We knew picking a fairly obscure name would have its challenges.
What are your goals or aspirations for Corvus Noir?
Long-term, We want our brand to be a major contender in the jewelry industry. We think our pieces are unique, timeless, high-quality and reasonably priced. We feel really strongly about reworked vintage costume jewelry, especially since everything is handmade and one of a kind. We love that every piece has a history, whether it’s the time period it was created in or the previous owner’s initials chiseled into it’s surface. Short-term, we’re taking a break from the market after this Saturday and we’ll be focusing on getting into NYC boutiques and putting more designs on line.
What are you most looking forward to this spring?
We feel blessed to have showed our collection at Chictopia10. It was a great experience and everyone had such amazing things to say about our work. We’ve already met a ton a great people because of it and we’re excited to see what other opportunities present themselves in the near future. Warmer weather would also be a HUGE improvement :)