Byline: Holly Haber
What was originally meant to be an education in wage-earning for a teenager has instead turned into a mushrooming jewelry business for Mary Louise Sinclair.
Sinclair, a former interior designer, started creating turquoise and sterling jewelry as a means of teaching her daughter some hard facts of life about making money. However, her 15-year-old quickly became immersed in schoolwork and diverted from the project, and Sinclair found herself with a drive to sell her creations, and some posh accounts.
The idea for starting the jewelry business came about in a common way: friends and associates complimented Sinclair on designs she’d made herself, and she soon found herself taking orders.
“I do a lot of shopping at Ultimo, and I would wear my little designs. And the Ultimo girls all ordered things from me,” Sinclair recalled.
“Then, the manager said, ‘Gosh, I want my buyer to see this,’ so I shipped some samples up — and that was nervewracking. She gave me my first order, for about $2,500.”
Since that booking last fall, Sinclair has secured representation in Julie Hall’s showroom at the Dallas mart and has picked up about 20 more accounts, including a Neiman Marcus store, and a Tootsies specialty store in Dallas.
“It looks beautiful and we’re selling it very well,” commented Susie Calmes, fashion director for Tootsies’ Dallas store. “I’ve known her as a customer for many years, and I’ve always thought she had a great sense of style. When she told me she had a jewelry collection, I said come on over.
“She has a lot of turquoise and coral, which is a strong direction for summer,” Calmes remarked. “I’ve had it three weeks, and I’m getting ready to reorder. There were several people on the waiting list for those tassel earrings.”
Sinclair’s look is simple and colorful, mixing beads of blue and green turquoise with faceted amethyst, silver Bali beads, coral and African trade beads. Some pretty styles include turquoise tassel earrings, an amethyst and turquoise cuff and a necklace of turquoise beads with a bank of faceted amethyst at the center.
“I use a variety of turquoise — Chinese green and African turquoise which is browny green,” Sinclair noted. “For fall, I will probably use a lot more greens plus more gray and brown pearls and amethyst. I’ll use more faceted stones mixed with casual turquoise — I like that look. So many people are doing fine jewelry right now, and I think that is great, but I like to add a little casualness to it so it is more wearable.”
Sinclair’s goal for first-year sales is $100,000.
“I was an art major, so I’ve always been drawn to artistic endeavors,” she reflected.