QUANTITY AND QUALITY Barse & Co., a sterling jewelry firm here, offers 2,000 styles. And if you don't like any of those, wait until market rolls around, because 200 to 300 new looks are offered each season. Such diversity and depth, along with wholesale prices that average between $12 and $15, are expected to generate at least $20 million in sales this year, up more than 60 percent. "Our niche is offering a designer look at a reasonable price," said Michael Gobril, president. "It's the middle market." Barse is owned by Gobril and his wife Melanie Gobril, who is vice president, and her parents, Nancy and Scott Moore, who founded the company. Nearly 7,000 accounts, including big chains like Dillard's, Little Rock, Ark., and Rich's, Atlanta, stock Barse's diverse offerings. So do single-unit specialty stores across the U.S. Barse reaches such disparate accounts with a presence in regional markets from California to New York, including a showroom at the International Apparel Mart here in 4D86 and at the Dallas World Trade Center in 7105. The World Trade Center locale is open daily and gets lots of business from stores wanting immediate goods, in which Barse does a big business. "Buying close to need is the trend in retailing," said Gobril. "The immediates business is doubling every year." At market, Barse will show summer and transition styles, including a collection of denim-colored lapis, pink rhodanite paired with pearls and the ubiquitous Y-necklaces and whisper jewelry. Barse jewelry is designed by Judith Sorrley, who mainly does tailored styles, and Jodie Moore, who does more whimsical pieces and Southwest silhouettes. About a year ago, Moore began designing a namesake collection called Jodie M., which is sculpted by hand in clay, then cast in sterling silver. For summer and transition, Jodie M. styles include textured sterling, lots of hearts and crosses, and a group accented with onyx. Barse makes its goods at a company-owned plant in Thailand that employs 40 people. The Thai facility even cuts and processes the rough stones that Barse officials purchase at gem shows in the U.S., mostly in Tucson. "The office in Thailand is a big strength," said Gobril. "It also helps us control our production, quality and design."THE YS ONE Dana Kellin doesn't have much of a social life. She's too busy watching television. Kellin, a Los Angeles accessories designer, is no couch potato. She just wants to see who's wearing her wildly popular jewelry collections. Actresses on several top-rated series--from "Melrose Place" to "Cybill"--regularly wear Kellin's designs, most notably her Y and lariat necklaces, and Kellin stays home to take note. It was Kellin who rocked the accessories world a couple of years ago with delicate and softly styled silhouettes, often called whisper or boudoir jewelry. And her Y-necklaces, so named because they typically dangle a single strand of embellishment, have inspired countless knockoffs. Kellin breezed into Dallas not long ago for a trunk show at Ylang-Ylang, an accessories store at the Galleria here where she does a big business. Kellin, wearing a sleek navy double-breasted suit over a crop top, greeted visitors in her hotel room and quickly pointed to a jewelry-covered banquette. It held her three fall lines, including the fashion, semiprecious and precious collections. Though Kellin made her name with the fashion jewelry line and the Y-necklace, the semiprecious and precious collections are getting lots of attention. They give Kellin a chance to show her love of gemstones. For fall, it's interpreted with Burmese rubies, yellow sapphires and sparkling 14-karat gold, among other materials. The semiprecious and precious pieces are a little bigger and chunkier than the items in her fashion line, noted Kellin, holding a multicolored choker as an example. She said slightly larger silhouettes and jewelry layers, such as a choker with a long necklace, will be key trends to follow the dainty looks. "I believe women want to look refined," said Kellin. "They want an overall finesse and polish." Her design philosophy was shaped by a deep interest in the Edwardian and Victorian eras and the Twenties, citing the elegance and sophistication of those periods. A former fashion editor for Women's Wear Daily and W magazine, Kellin said her design career began with a bit of serendipity. While in New York working on a lengthy fashion shoot, Kellin visited a bead store and was inspired to try her hand at jewelry making. A small ankle bracelet she designed caught the eyes of friends in the fashion business, and she started selling to a few stores. Volume in 1994, her first year in full-time business, hit $1 million. Last year, volume swelled to $2 million. This year, sales are projected to hit $3.5 million to $4 million. Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel and Ylang-Ylang are among her top retail accounts. Kellin wholesales in New York, Los Angeles and at the International Apparel Mart here at Cynthia O'Connor's multiline showroom in room 4G15. Fall wholesale prices are $15 for simple drop crystal earrings in the fashion line to $1,020 for a yellow sapphire collar in the precious line.MAD FOR LADS Susan Schwertner's sterling accessories firm, LADS, is located in the middle of a 2,000-acre cotton field. "We're 23 miles from nowhere; we have two traffic lights in the whole town," joked Schwertner. Her two-year-old firm sits on the isolated plains of west Texas, not far from Big Lake. From such an out-of-the-way location, which is home to her family's cotton business, Schwertner seems to be heading in the right direction: The firm is projected to hit $200,000 in sales this year, double first-year business. Sales have doubled during the last few markets. Schwertner shows in the Mart at Jane Studio Boutique in 4G36. "Women's specialty stores have really taken to our looks, from California to the Northeast," said Schwertner. "The collections are diverse, including some Southwest styles and some whisper-soft looks, too." She now has about 150 accounts, including Blair's Western Wear in San Angelo, Tex., and Pauline's Style Shop in Hobbs, N.M., which was Schwertner's first big account. "I started the business purely by accident," explained Schwertner. "I was bored and made a few pieces of jewelry. It turned out rather well, and I showed it to some stores. They liked it, too." Schwertner decided to name her fledgling business after her family, using an initial from each member to form the acronym LADS. For marketing purposes, she has found another use for the acronym, referring to her firm as Ladies Accessories Designed With Style. For fall and holiday, which she'll show at the June market, Schwertner is staying true to her simple and clean approach, but will feature semiprecious stones such as amethysts and garnets. Wholesale prices are $20 for simple handstrung sterling earrings to $175 for an intricate sterling cross inlaid with semiprecious stones.
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