You can’t help but fall in love with Emerson & Oliver; from their handmade artisan jewelry and accessories, to the BFFs behind the brand, I guarantee you’ll be smitten in no time. (I know I am.)
I wear their signature dia bracelets almost every day and love how versatile their pieces are. I also love how Emerson & Oliver’s founders (Laura and Mary) have had such a positive impact on our local creative community here in Rochester. These girls are serious about building a brand that not only offers high quality merchandise, but also supports local artisans and gives back. I’ve always been a sucker for beauty and heart and these ladies, and this company, have both.
I was so excited to sit down with co-founder Laura Bascomb-Werth to get the behind the scenes scoop on one of Rochester’s hottest jewelry retailers and BFF dream teams. So, without further ado, my interview with Laura:
You guys have been BFFs forever – you finish each others sentences and are completely adorable. How did you guys meet? Share your friendship story.
We met in the fourth grade. I had transferred from private school to public school and was put in Mary’s classroom. Mary cornered the girl that was supposed to show me around in the girls bathroom & said she would take me from there! So Mar showed me the ropes. (No more brown bag lunches – the cool kids bought lunch. And made me lose the penny loafers.) Basically, we have been inseparable ever since. Her family is my family. And my family is hers.
When did you make the decision to go into business together? What was the goal behind creating Emerson & Oliver?
It was never really a question of ‘should we’ go into business together. It was always more of a ‘when should we’. We wanted to put together a shoppe of our favorite pieces. Things that spoke to us, that were timeless & ageless & us. Park ave fest 2012 we were holed up in hogans hideaway during a downpour with Mary’s daughter Emerson, and started talking about the idea again. I went back to Barbados, 8 months pregnant with Oliver…built a website, threw that away, built another one, and we were in business!
Do you have clearly defined roles? Someone does promo work and social media, someone designs, someone manages the business etc? Or do you share all roles?
Some days! Most days, it’s ‘hey I have an hour, I’ll Gram & FB.’ Or ‘I’m swamped today can you do a post?’ We both have jobs, husbands and small children, so we try to use our spare moments, but also be considerate of each others time. Mary generally makes the jewelry. I will order pieces or have an idea for a new piece and she will put it all together! She sends me pics at random times saying “yay or nay? Just put this together!” It has all been a learning experience and we have let ourselves naturally fall into our different roles. I never thought I would be our ‘accountant’ but here I am!!! And it works.
Tell us the story behind your iconic piece: the dia. Why those bracelets? Where does the name come from?
These are just a classic for us. We have been wearing them for over 15 years. We came to a point where we couldn’t find them in the states & finally went, ‘ok. We need to just do them ourselves!’ Dia is the Greek word for ‘through’. It’s about the relationship between the object & the subject. The person and the pieces.
What inspires you?
Anything… Everything! Nature. The ocean. The mountains. Travel. Other people. Fashion. Movies. Our children. Each other… Inspiration is everywhere!
If you could sum up your look/aesthetic in 3 words what would they be and why?
Simple. Clean. Diverse. We consciously choose pieces that we can wear everyday. With everything. You can have your dia & fine silver stacking rings (by little green apple) on with jeans & a t-shirt, a little black dress, or a bikini and they look appropriate with each. We have our one off statement pieces which tend to be bigger, bolder, pieces. But we like to keep our everyday E&O just that. Wearable, everyday.
You girls seem to be everywhere. What do you think is the secret to your success? I’m convinced that dia bracelets are going to go national as a trend. You heard it here first.
I think it’s just us being us. We are like sisters. We love each other and hanging out together. To be out and about, meeting new people, making introductions & building a business together is icing on the cake for us. I think people recognize that & want to be a part of it. We have been very fortunate to meet the people we have and been given opportunities to grow.
What local designers do you currently carry and are you looking to expand?
Little Green Apple is a staple. Mary Anne is extremely talented & her fine silver stacking rings are perfection. We are currently getting ready for the new year and are excited to introduce some new products and new artisans on the website.
What is your studio or workspace like, and how do you work in your studio? Tell me a little bit about your creative process.
That depends on the day as well! We started our hair ties in Mary’s kitchen one night over a bottle of Mount Gay Rum. We generally have 3 kids running around & husbands rolling their eyes! There are tools, blow torches, baby bottles… You name it. If it’s a sunny day we bring everything outside so the kids can play while we work. We have had business meetings in the car, Starbucks, Canandaigua lake, beaches in Barbados (our personal favorite spot), playgrounds, our living room & on occasion you can find us in the ‘studio’ on Mary’s 3rd floor! Again. We go with the flow!
How often do you release new pieces/collections?
We try to do seasons. We already have some new pieces planned for spring!
What do you love most about living and working in Rochester?
Both of us grew up here in the burbs, have lived downtown, left the city & have come back. So, really it has been great to rediscover Rochester as adults. There is so much the city has to offer that we didn’t appreciate as 21 year olds!
Where can people find your work? (other than everywhere)
Hopefully in the new year we will be able to better answer that!! In the meantime, check out www.emersonandoliver.com and keep your eyes & ears open… Cause you never know where we’ll pop up!
Anything else we should know?
We are proud supporters of the Roc City SkatePark. Our limited edition RCP dia bracelets donate 60% of the proceeds to the skate park project to give Rochestarians an outdoor community space for bikes, scooters, skateboards, and families to go to. You can get the full scoop on that over at The Rochesteriat.
And now I have a question for you, dear reader: how would you like to win your very own set of dia bracelets from Emerson & Oliver?
Click the +1 button for further instructions on each entry. This giveaway will close at midnight on January 12. The winner will be randomly selected, verified for correct entry participation, and notified by email.
You know the drill. Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Best of luck lovelies,