We’re crushing on up-and-coming jewelry brand Eleanor Kalle big-time. Started by Randi Tutelman and Amy Mazius, the collection launched in 2010. Now sold at the MILLY NYC Boutique, we took a minute to chat with Randi (above left) about how the brand started. (Fun fact: Randi started as an intern at MILLY…)
Where are you from and how did you meet Amy?
Amy and I were design majors at Lehigh University together and came up with the idea for Eleanor Kalle as undergrads. In 2010, we entered a competition for young entrepreneurs and we won.The $5,000 prize gave us momentum to turn our idea and product into a company.After college I went to get my Masters and focused my entire program around the idea of our business.
How did you come up with the name Eleanor?
Elinor was the name of Amy’s great-grandmother, who was a strong, independent woman and women’s rights advocate. Eleanor, which we feel is the modern update to Elinor, speaks more to the heritage side of the brand. Kalle means “strong” and highlights the bolder, more modern side of the brand. We felt that the softness of Eleanor and the toughness of Kalle perfectly embodies the contemporary, independent women we are.
Where do you get inspiration?
Patti Smith was our muse for our current collection. She came to speak at Lehigh. We love that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. When she came to speak to us, she showed us her photographs of her friend and muse, Robert Mapplethorpe. He was an artist and he made his own jewelry he wore in the photograph. That was a big inspiration.
What made you want to start your own jewelry line?
I grew up in NYC and have been surrounded by fashion my whole life. Amy is from Wisconsin and has always been obsessed with fashion as well. We thought jewelry could be a way for us to get our hands into the industry right away. Everything in our collection is handmade in NYC. Amy makes all of the pieces herself.
What materials do you use?
One of my favorite pieces in the MILLY store right now is called the Eloise. It’s a titanium plated agate. It looks silvery and has a big stone, which shimmers and sparkles.Chain is one of the most important elements in our pieces. It has a tactile quality- it has great texture, which is one aspect that drives our pieces. We love the rawness of stones. Each stone is one-of-a-kind is asymmetrical, which makes our jewelry stand out.
What’s the process of designing a piece and then producing it?
Each piece really ranges. It depends if Amy has already come up with the idea beforehand or if she’s starting from scratch. She sits on the floor and surrounds herself with materials before she begins. Once she is finished making the piece by hand, she’ll play with the different lengths by putting it on herself to see how it fits.
Why did you want to sell your collection at MILLY?
I have always loved MILLY, which is why I was so excited to intern for the brand during the summer of my sophomore year of college. The new direction of the brand, which is tougher and sexier works really well with our jewelry. Also, when we were at a MILLY event over the summer, Michelle saw one of the hand chains Amy was wearing and loved it. We got in touch with the MILLY buyer and it all started from there!
Be sure to stop by the MILLY NYC Boutique (900 Madison Avenue) tomorrow Friday, December 13th from 1 - 4 pm to meet Amy and Randi and shop their trunk show!