Starting a business is always a gamble; in the case of Double Happiness, that's, well, doubly true.
A roll of the dice eventually gave rise to Double Happiness, the new jewelry line created by sisters Alisa Rottenberg, 31, and Stephanie Rottenberg-Wells, 33.
"I was in the Sinai Desert in May 2000, and my husband was playing backgammon with the Bedouins," explained Stephanie, who is mostly responsible for designing the line. "If he lost, he would have to buy something from them, so that's how a necklace came into my possession."
Back at home in San Diego, she would take the metallic-blue beaded necklace and tie it around her waist on sales appointments for her fledgling yoga-centric clothing line, Lotus 38.
"I had four women vying for it, so I sold it for $45," she said. "I took that money, went to the bead store and bought glass seed beads, which I then started to play with."
Stephanie surprised friends and family when she made the bridesmaids' jewelry for her wedding last summer. Her sister convinced her to go into business with her, and by August, the two were ready to sell the line.
The duo chose to call the line Double Happiness, inspired by the Chinese symbol of marriage, unity and a fresh start. "We're sisters, starting something from scratch, located on two coastlines," said the New York-based Alisa, who handles marketing and sales. "It's all about the double."
Signature pieces include a three-layer necklace with a turquoise choker, a carnelian necklace with a turquoise nugget and a sterling silver chain with a labradorite pendant, at $180; a belt or necklace with turquoise stones hand-wrapped in sterling silver wire, at $200, and a cherry-red coral and blue pearl necklace with a handmade, sterling silver Nepalese prayer box adorned with coral, at $150 (all prices are wholesale).
Wholesale prices range from $25 for sterling silver with semiprecious stone earrings to $300 for polished serpentine belts.
The line, which was selected to be showcased at the October edition of GenArt, has already been picked up by specialty stores such as Only Hearts in NoLIta, Artisan and Journey in Brooklyn, and Girlshop.com.
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