It has always been a vision for FN to support local artisans while delivering unique items to our customers. We hope that you will take joy in not only supporting your local community, but also in feeling great knowing that you have a truly unique piece on your hands!
Enter our newest handmade vendor, beanepôle bijoux. Founded by a veteran in the fashion industry, Barbara Driscoll, beanepôle bijoux is a collection of handmade pieces shaped from hand-carved, burnished natural bone, horn, leather, and suede. Barbara intends for these pieces to be appreciated by fans of tasteful, but affordable, statement-type jewelry. We sat down with Barbara to get all the details, so read on to learn more about her fascinating journey from esteemed stylist to jewelry maker.
What made you think to start making jewelry?
My motivation in creating jewelry stemmed from both a budget perspective and a love of fashion. As a veteran fashion coordinator and photo stylist, I’ve long been a fan of larger, statement-type earrings and was seeing few, if any, that I found attractive in the marketplace. A few years ago, I fell madly in love with a Ralph Lauren collection that was accessorized with big, gorgeous, expensive earrings. I got to thinking that with a little help from my husband, Robert, and a few raw materials, I might be able to create a pair or two of my own gorgeous, but affordable, earrings.
Did you start selling the pieces right away?
No...I made a few pieces for myself and began wearing them. After family members, friends, and even strangers began commenting on my earrings and asking me where I found them, I decided that there might be enough interest to try my luck at making and selling jewelry for my statement-earring-loving sisters. And beanepôle bijoux was born.
What are your pieces made of?
My raw materials include natural bone, horn, leather and suede along with brass, silver or sterling findings.
Take us through your process, if you can.
First I do rough design sketches with a specific look or concept in mind. Alternatively, my designs can be inspired simply from the natural markings and existing forms of my raw materials. Next, I produce patterns so that my husband, Robert, has a template from which to work. He then cuts and hand-burnishes the bone and horn. Finally, I carefully assemble the components by hand, making adjustments and corrections as I go.
Tell us more about Robert!
At 6’5”, Robert is the ‘beanstalk’ to my ‘beanpole’…..and in that sense, we are inextricably intertwined and supportive of each other. As a master plumber, hobby electrician, and hobby carpenter, he knows how to do and fix anything. And he would say otherwise, but he has an innate visual sensibility and a practical, common-sense approach to projects that perfectly complements my dreamy ‘head in the clouds’-type persona.
Why is it important to make your pieces affordable?
Having learned from my mother (a stunning runway and photographic model) at an early age, genuine style comes from within, not from a hefty price tag. Also, I believe in a democratic approach to fashion, wherein a striking look can be achieved with pieces that work well together, not because of their price tag, but because that “je ne sais quois” thing is happening....be it color, silhouette, proportion, or simply the wearer’s unique style. My introduction to this sort of concept occurred back in the ‘80s when I was working as Fashion Show Coordinator at Kaufmann’s department store. One Fall season, ELLE magazine editors blew into town and whipped together the coolest fashion show I’d ever seen. They headed straight to the 11th floor, Vendôme (Kaufmann's high-priced designer department) and proceeded to coordinate high-end leather jackets with inexpensive tulle skirts from the 5th floor Junior department. And, voilà! The striking visual effect was oh-so-chic, cool, and captivating, and I was forever hooked! And to further add to my affordable fashion mantra, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love snagging a great-looking item for a wallet-friendly price!
Where did the name, beanepôle bijoux, come from?
Beanpole was a moniker my big sister, Dana, affectionately used in reference to my gawky, pole-like 5’11” teenaged frame. (Bijoux is French for jewelry.) That nickname has since been abbreviated to simply “Bean”. But the original “Beanpole” seemed just right as a perfect, personal and offbeat label with which to christen my nascent jewelry brand. (The middle “e” and circonflexe were added to set it apart from the existing South Korean ‘Bean Pole’ fashion brand.)
Each piece is one-of-a-kind, true?
Yes! Though the overall design of each made-to-order earring will remain faithful to the original sample, the beautiful imperfections that nature and human hands create will render each earring unique, even within a single pair. In fact, the two pairs of earrings featured in FN’s Summer Lookbook are currently the only two styles that are available from beanepôle bijoux, and I will certainly fulfill any special orders for those as soon as possible in July. In the meantime, Robert and I have committed to a project-heavy summer with house and yard updates, which has put bb production temporarily on hold. But, rest assured, I plan on adding new styles to FN’s beanepôle collection in July and August...that is....if you and your clients are ready for more! I might add, too, that your commitment to local artists only adds to the unique and cool energy that Fresh Nostalgia provides to our area, and I feel incredibly fortunate in having the opportunity to collaborate with you and FN!! Thank you so much!!