IN WITH THE NEW
Byline: Cami Alexander
Mykal Ippolito hopes that a lot of research and a hands-on approach to designing will make her jewelry line, Sorella, a success. Ippolito stays on top of trends by traveling to Milan three or four times a year to see fashion shows, pick out materials for her line and visit her father.
She started her business three years ago by selling her first styles to friends and family, but she has had a longtime association with making jewelry.
“I’ve always made jewelry and been involved in fashion,” said Ippolito, 33. “Right after graduating from the Art Institute of Dallas [with a degree in fashion design], I got a job with a jewelry manufacturer in sales — we sold diamonds all the way down to silver. I started making jewelry myself because I would see a beautiful piece, and there would be one detail that would throw it all off. I decided that I could do it myself and make it look really great.”
Sorella means “sister” in Italian, and Ippolito’s sister played a key role in starting the business by helping to get the first retail account.
“My sister walked into Parkhill in Fort Worth about a year and a half ago with one of my necklaces on, and they loved it,” she recalled. “They called me in to show them some of my designs, and that was my first order.”
Last June, her collection became large enough for Kathy Flahavin & Associates to show it at the International Apparel Mart. The line consists of necklaces, earrings, anklets, bracelets and lariats made from sterling silver, leather, suede, crystals, Italian glass and semiprecious stones. Necklaces are her strongest sellers, and all of them are strung on silk cord or soft flex, a nylon-coated wire that’s soft and flexible, in a variety of colors.
“I go to the shows in Milan, so that I can coordinate the look of the jewelry to go with the new fashion trends coming out,” Ippolito explained. “I look at hemlines, necklines, materials in the clothes and colors. I want people to buy my jewelry and then buy the outfit to go with that, and I have a lot of customers who do that.
To be sure her line will be successful with women, Ippolito knows that her jewelry has to look good on real people. “I put every piece on as I design it to make sure it looks good on me,” she noted. “I don’t design it to make it to look good hanging on a mannequin. I think that makes a difference.”
Her business is still small. Ippolito said she did about $40,000 in sales last year and hopes to double that this year.
During market in April, look for new big pendants using red, white, brown, green and aqua Italian glass and turquoise. Wholesale prices range from $19 to $100, but her most popular items are in the $25-to-$48 range. Her designs can be found in specialty stores, including Byzantine in Dallas and Parkhill’s Jewelry and Gifts in Fort Worth.
“We bought it last season, and we sold it really well, so we bought it again,” said Victoria Jackson, owner of Byzantine. “It’s not that expensive, and it has good combinations of colors. She has some things I haven’t seen elsewhere.”