Meet Christine Lorenzo she is a passionately obsessed jewelry maven who adores eclectic craft, not only her own work but tends to get carried away once she discovers other artists of any genre who are just as passionate and open to the world of art she adores. Christine will tell you she has been seeking something creative to sink her teeth into since she was a child. She had been leading a creative life vicariously through others, with ardent artistic admiration for film, art, music and fashion while working in a world of international high-tech. Finally last spring something called out to her: the historic Nazar Boncuk, the Evil Eye Bead. This calling led her to her shop, SariBlue, where she has been setting her creativity free.
SariBlue is a fun, hip, wear-it-everyday jewelry collection centered on the power and theory of this universally recognizable symbol. The earthy bohemian style jewelry has a bit of an industrial edge to some of the pieces, a luxurious sense to others but every piece is centered on the fascinating bead, at least one in every piece of the collection.
The SariBlue collection (Sari is pronounced “sutter” in Turkish meaning blonde/blondie/yellow; Lorenzo’s nickname) uses exclusive Turkish handmade glass beads which are made using centuries old traditional methods. This method may be one of the oldest eco-friendly recycling techniques around. Turkish artisans collect recycled glass pieces, mix them with special dyes and melt in their primitive adobe furnaces that burn naturally clean-burning pine logs. They shape the red hot molten glass, fuse colors together and create these amazing beads using only simple hand tools. Every bead fashioned has its own identity, lending every SariBlue piece its own distinctive nature. The collection ties together past and present in a distinctive, modern way.
MO: Can you please share the story behind SariBlue? Why design a line of jewelry based on The Evil Eye?
Sari: I have always wanted to do something creative and truly my own. Having worked for businesses, large and small that were run by others, I knew at some point I would start something for myself. Enjoying art in many formats as I do, and exploring history and world cultures, getting introduced to Turkey when I did was very fortuitous.
About 6 years ago I started to work for a start-up software development company whose founder is Turkish. My job required lots of travel back and forth to Istanbul and Ankara for extended periods of time. I quickly fell in love with the country and all it had to offer. It was obvious to me that the Turkish culture is very similar to Italian culture; passionate Mediterranean people who have a lot of superstition embedded in the culture, specifically the Evil Eye. Both have significant appreciation for family, food, and religion (albeit different ones). The entire connection just fascinated me and somehow reconnected me to my childhood.
Fast-forward to last spring and multiple iterations of ups and downs in the market and my job. I was not working fulltime and needed something to really engage me. It was actually my daughters who pushed me to start SariBlue. I had talked about creating a jewelry shop for a long time and they basically said, you can do it mom, go for it!! You love these beads and making pretty things, just do it!!
MO: The SariBlue brand has only been around for just a little under a year now, but already has quite a following. How have you managed to gain such impressive traction in a short period of time? What does your marketing strategy look like?
Sari: I am pleasantly surprised at the rate of movement for SariBlue in less than one year. Everyone is well aware of the turmoil in the economy. I had been through a lot personally and professionally just prior to jumping off the cliff into the world of jewelry. However, when you are determined, willing to push forward regardless of the circumstances, have true passion and love for what you do, things seem to move along…
I did a lot of research into the independent handmade shops that have had success as well as the shops I really admire and make gorgeous things, what they had in common as resources. I started out methodically using a few strategies that seemed to make sense. Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, local juried artisan fairs, Google Ads… I also began to reach out to people and connect with other artisans; amazingly these connections became very strong. The support of the artisan world is the number one key to my success to date. The friendships I have made are incredible; we support each other in this amazing community, so different than the, dare I say, cutthroat world of VCs and typical capitalism. Other artists are actually happy for my success as I am for theirs.
Strategically in terms of business planning: Brand Recognition was my main goal for the first year. I wanted my first design effort with the collection launch to be something people would see and be able to recognize as SariBlue. One of the greatest compliments I had all year was a feature story by another artist. Penny Cheng from Saniki Creations said in her article: “Being a Jewelry Designer for a few years now, I can usually spot a designer’s niche, a signature touch, to what they produce… In other words, if I see a necklace/earrings/bracelet, most times I can tell you who designed it by what the technique or materials used. One such jewelry designer I can spot right away by looking at a piece is Christine Lorenzo of SariBlue Jewelry.” I am thrilled that my determination to stay on target to design the line in a recognizable way has paid off.
Additionally, the branding for SariBlue evolved precisely and quickly. I worked hard to have a tagline and company description that was catchy and recognizable. “There’s Nothing Evil About It…” draws lots of attention. Our symbol/logo is simple, but not boring; it is familiar (if you know the Evil Eye). The logo is used consistently on the website, all social media, banner for artisan fairs, the banner on Etsy, business cards, print ads, and gives a consistent look. I even use the logo as an avatar for blogs.
These details are critical when establishing recognition; no detail is too small to ignore. Perhaps someone may think it is overkill for a tiny indie jewelry shop, but if you think small that is what you will always be!
I want people to connect our “EYE” with “THE” Evil Eye and come to our shop as a first stop for any authentic Evil Eye jewelry or adornments. Not to be too verbose but I have this crazy little vision to be somewhat like the Marc Jacobs of Evil Eye Jewelry, my plans are not too big, are they?!! LOL … Go big or go home, right?!!!
MO: What inspires your creative process? How do you bring your ideas to life?
Sari: All of my designs are named after a person, a song, a notion, a colour combination … something that brought me the idea for the piece. Designing jewelry is SO DIFFERENT than drafting a policy or an agreement or a timeline for a project!! So the word “process” seems so funny to me in relationship to art! Of course artists all talk about it, I have a bit of a hard time giving a clear process. Mine seems to change all the time! I look for inspiration in everything! Other artists, fashion, nature, my girls, my family and friends! But really the beads basically tell me how they should be put together. Yes, I may sound a bit like a crazy gypsy girl, and perhaps I am. But that is the truth, when I am stuck and don’t have anything in my mind for a new design I hold the beads that I think would look lovely together and roll them in my hands…. Eventually they tell me something.
MO: What were you doing before launching SariBlue and how has your background and experience contributed to the development and success of the brand?
Sari: I am a very skilled business professional; I know the ins and outs of start-ups, setting them up and taking them apart. I know how to hire people and establish an entity in multiple countries, learn any industry from top to bottom and then how to best create the bones to support the flesh. What I wanted was something of my own, something that finally allowed me to express myself in the creative way I have been craving my whole adult life. I think passion for your business and sheer will have a lot to do with ability to get things off the ground and the overall success. I am very thankful to the CEO of the startup I work for, he is beyond detailed! Feyzi Celik, CEO of OnePIN, Inc. is a fantastic entrepreneur and has been a critical supporter in my career. The man leaves no detail to chance, and I have carried this and many lessons with me. Not only has he been a great mentor in so many ways but truly without my experience at OnePIN there would be no SariBlue. Feyzi is Turkish and our work together is what brought me to Turkey 6+ years ago. I am actually still engaged with OnePIN on a very part-time basis. It is hard to leave a successful business and solid professional relationship, certainly when there remains such flexibility. My role has been Operations and Human Resources and I maintain relationships within OnePIN and externally with our multinational business partners. Yes, all my years of start-up have been hugely beneficial in this venture. I guess the biggest benefit is realizing that a business doesn’t develop overnight. Patience and timing; no business is simple market research and excellent products with a sound customer base. Networking and strong relationships are very important no matter the industry and can make or break your start.
MO: At what point did you realize that Sari Blue was going to take off?
Sari: WOW! I try not to jinx myself! Talk about superstitious! I hesitantly say we still have a long way to go for success. When I was accepted into The Artisan Group, it was the taking off point for SariBlue. The Artisan Group is an exclusive community of artisans, that provides handcrafted products to celebrities and members of the press at major award show luxury Gift Lounges. These gifting opportunities and celebrities level events are amazing ways to get the word out about SariBlue. The marketing capabilities go well beyond the events themselves and have been a huge asset for the brand to date.
MO: Can you share with our readers why 2012 is set to be such an exciting year for SariBlue?
Sari: SariBlue ended 2011 in strong fashion with solid groundwork laid; we were moving along at a good pace. Luck was also on our side with an amazing opportunity. Our participation in The Artisan Group’s and GBK Productions’ joint Luxury Lounge Event celebrating The Golden Globes, this was the highlight of 2011. SariBlue was a featured artisan at this event which enabled us to gift 100 pieces from our collection to “A List Celebrities” in attendance. Can you believe Mr. Jeremy Irons is pictured with my pendant? It was an amazing experience.
2012 has started out with more excellent exposure and exciting opportunity via The Artisan Group. At an event held in celebration of The Oscars, SariBlue had a great Ad in the Event Guide, business cards in the swag bag filled with the artisan gifts for the attending celebrities and a bracelet I made was gifted to the attending media.
I have just learned that SariBlue business cards will be distributed through one of TAG’s PR partners on Earth Day in an exclusive gift bag to a list of unbelievable celebrities that are very supportive of green/recycling/organic and causes that support these efforts. The list includes: Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz, Pink, Edward Norton and Barbra Streisand, among many others. I am really thrilled about this!
The biggest event on the horizon is The MTV Movie Awards which is held on June 3rd. Once again GBK Productions and The Artisan Group will have a pre-awards luxury lounge for presenters and nominees. SariBlue is a featured artisan gifting the attendees, press and industry leaders.
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