As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, a holiday I now only celebrate with my kids, I wanted to bring back the romance of the the day with this feature. Jane Winchester has been in the accessories business for decades, and has now launched her own brand of jewels inspired by the gypsy coins of the 1900s. The reason for this inspiration, is that she sought out to create pieces with meaning, pieces that last a lifetime. Each amulet Jane creates symbolizes positivity, strength, hope and luck, to be worn daily as a constant reminder. Jane is passionate about her product, and making sure that each piece expresses the important, personal milestones in her customer’s life. It’s a true feel good gift!
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We just celebrated our first year in December 2018.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I have been in fashion for over 20 years, from Calvin Klein Cosmetics to Barneys New York, and most recently, SVP of Marketing at Lilly Pulitzer. It’s been an amazing road with some incredible female mentors.
In 2017, I went to the Womens' March in Washington DC, and I realized that, while I LOVED my job at Lilly Pulitzer, I had been there for 11 years and I wanted to build something. I wanted to create something from scratch, something original that connected with women…and I wanted my kids to see me do it (and help!). That drive was layered with a LOVE of jewelry. At Lilly Pulitzer I launched their handbag, footwear and jewelry lines, so my design focus has always been accessories. I have collected vintage jewelry for decades and started to focus on coin jewelry. As I started researching the way gypsies turned their money into jewelry I was hooked.
Our core collection is made up of 8 amulets symbolizing the abundance of positivity, strength, hope, and luck. I am inspired by the American Gypsy coin jewelry of the 1900s. Gypsy coin jewelry was functional, spiritual and symbolic — it was a way to transport wealth, show prosperity and express generosity to others. When I started researching this gorgeous antique coin jewelry, I realized that my wealth is not demonstrated in money, cars or fancy homes…my wealth comes from life experiences both good and bad. Finding Love. Marriage. Losing people I have loved and finding peace as I remember their impact on my life. Divorce and finding a new confidence and freedom. Having children and every bit of joy that comes along with being surrounded by family. It is the perfect gift for yourself or for someone who needs a reminder of their milestone moment.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Ohhhh that’s such a good question. I think we have an amazing combination of: Optimism and Quality. An inspiring story behind our brand and meaning for each piece.
Optimism is just innate - a wake-up smiling, grounded optimism. It radiates from everything we do and is a magnet for people. That is layered with an exceptional product that is high quality and unique. I think customers are drawn to the quality, the story-telling behind the product and the connection they have with each coin and its meaning.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Jane Winchester isn’t trendy jewelry; it is based on ‘coins’ and charms – which are classic staples in a woman's jewelry wardrobe. New York “gets” classic and respects a timeless piece layered with the latest fashion. That’s what makes style – not simply dripping in the latest pieces from the hottest brand, but a unique eye for mixing.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Another great question! Our customers LOVE the meaning behind their coin. They instantly connect. Then they wear the piece and have the power to give them a little confidence – they hold on to it, literally.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love building a business and every aspect of it, so I have several. I sketch a new piece and work with a CAD designer to bring it into 3D form, and then there is this magic moment when you print the CAD in wax before making the mold. And for the first time I see my daydream, which became a sketch, become a piece. It’s in this funny blue wax and not gold, but the piece has still come alive.
I love love love working with the customer. I love meeting them, watching them read about each piece, and instantly they light up over one or two that they feel a connection with. And I know then, that they will wear and adore it.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
I lived on Irving Place for many years, and I adore the market in Union Square. On a sunny day, early in the morning, the vendors are setting up and there is this abundance in the market of greens and flowers and honey from a local farm. It’s fresh and gorgeous and feels like a special secret.
How do you benefit mamas?
Of course one of the coins we designed is for moms. Our JOY coin is for those who want to have children and all ages and phases of motherhood. Initially, when I designed JOY I had my kids in mind but also my dear friends who had a harder time becoming a mom, and that this coin could be a touchstone for them to remember to stay positive through what can be a very challenging time to become a mother.
Here are the words that accompany the JOY pendant:
"This coin pendant is a touchstone to celebrate children and bring luck to those who want children in their lives. The design is a stylized cast of three hollyhock leaves meeting in the middle. Hollyhocks are a symbol of fertility and bring positive energy to all those who have children they love, and even more so – to those who want to have a child."
I have customers send in pictures of their moms crying when they received the JOY pendant from their kids. The words behind the design have power, and as we all know, Moms may not get all the ‘thanks’ or recognition they have earned!
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?/ What do we hear most about our designs?
It’s crazy – and it happens all the time – people say they get stopped in the street receiving compliments on their pendants. The design is classic but original, and it stands out. We are VERY proud that this is the number one takeaway for customers…they always get compliments!
We also hear that people hold on to their necklaces as a focus for the word/coin they have chosen. They feel the power in it. Creating that connection is extraordinary.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
I am blown away by the creativity in the jewelry field. From designers like Jennifer Fisher who has built an incredible business, to DRU Jewelry who is COOL and has been generous with her time and advice as I start my company.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
The best advice I have gotten I share a lot with other women. As a young businesswoman, I found myself underplaying my knowledge, experience, and hard work. It’s like I played dumb to make people smile and endear myself. I had a sticker on my laptop that said “I’m too pretty to do math” and that was WRONG. A colleague said to me, don’t play dumb – because you aren’t. And I took that sticker off. I want to do math! I want to be a respected businesswoman and being great at math, being a goal-setting, planner is all a part of that – and nothing to downplay.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Because my kids are a bit older, I have the school hours to get things done – I work out early and then concentrate 9-3 without letting myself get distracted by home issues. After 3 pm when the kids are around, I do ‘lighter’ work and home jobs – knowing that I have already taken care of the business of the day that had to get done. Also, and this is funny – I want to cook my kids a healthy meal for dinner, organic, balanced – it’s essential to me that I do that for them, the Instant Pot has changed the GAME. Ahhh that makes me feel not like a high fashion designer but, I love the Instant Pot, it has made me a better mom.