Lulu Frost is growing up.
The jewelry brand Lisa Salzer-Wiles founded when she was in college will open its first New York store at 7 Prince Street in NoLIta on July 21.
The 400-square-foot unit will pack a lot into a small space. A DIY jewelry bar will feature an array of ever-changing antique charms from around the world, including Victorian and Art Deco. Customers can choose bracelet and necklace chains for their charms to create personal jewelry.
Salzer-Wiles said she developed her aesthetic from her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Rock Frost, who worked in the estate jewelry business for decades. “That’s where I got my education, gazing at the fine jewelry,” she said of jewelry store, which was in New Hope, Pa. “My mom Linda Salzer is my buyer. She works with dealers. We’re always on the hunt for new and interesting charms and elements for the jewelry.”
Lulu Frost’s Zodiac collection features the earring signs and stud sets crafted from 10-karat gold and hand set with white sapphires, for $250. There are also big plans for the popular Plaza Collection, which consists of numbers and letters inspired by the iconic Manhattan hotel. “I’ll be doing some exclusive Plaza chain ways using lava, onyx and stone,” she said.
The Code collection features numbers, symbols and words set in sterling silver, rose gold, 14-karat and 18-karat gold. Code words feature a variety of gem stones from A-Z. Read left to right, the first letter of each stone spells out a hidden message. Salzer-Wiles, who has an obsession for Victoriana and secret messages, will add another layer at the store with a DIY flower bar.
Customers will be able to shop the “Language of Flowers” bar where they can choose from a ready-made bouquet or take a DIY approach to make a customized arrangement. Salzer-Wiles is partnering with florist Tess Casey, whose work has appeared in “Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Girls,” and “Boardwalk Empire,” but has never been available to the public. Each bouquet will come with a decoder that explains the meaning of the blossoms in the arrangement.
Prices will range from $45 for a small posy to up to $300 for larger arrangements.
“I love when things have hidden meaning,” Salzer-Wiles said. “I do it for myself in the studio with bouquets. Anna Wintour was my first test subject. Vogue featured our fine jewelry about 18 months ago. I made an arrangement for her with poppies to symbolize imagination, fern, because she left a lasting impression on me, and sage, which means wisdom. She loved it.”
In addition to flowers, which will occupy about one-eighth of the store’s total space, Salzer-Wiles plans to source hand-made ceramics for the store from Brooklyn artists.
After 14 years in business Salzer-Wiles said, “I have no investors. I’ve funded the business through sales and reinvesting into the company. It’s really cool that I’ve been able to remain independent for 14 years.
Lulu Frost’s wholesale customers include Neiman Marcus — its biggest partner — Barneys New York in Japan and Liberty of London. “These are changing times when you have to touch all channels,” Salzer-Wiles said. “When I was ad Dartmouth, a friend built me an e-commerce site, so I’ve had that for 14 years.”
Salzer-Wiles took a baby step toward brick-and-mortar retail a year and a half ago when she transformed the front of her showroom on West 20th Street to a customer-facing area. She said customers sought her out. “It helped us build up an audience. I’ve always loved direct interaction with customers. I love the customer coming in and the end experience.”
Salzer-Wiles said she hopes the store’s sales volume approaches $1 million in its first year. “I love the idea of doing a similar concept in Japan, maybe in Tokyo” she said. “People really appreciate vintage in Japan and I’m a huge Japanophile. I’ll also do a store in San Francisco.”