January 05, 2015

Made in America Series: Helen Ficalora

Helen Ficalora’s delicate creations are all about inspiring beauty, love and peace.  Made of gorgeous yellow, pink, and white gold with diamond accents, her pieces reflect an appreciation for nature and the organic form. As a pioneer of the alphabet charm craze, Helen’s collection resonates with those seeking to express their individuality and personality through jewelry.

A proud proponent of the Made in America movement, Helen began her business from inside her beach hotel in Montauk, New York.  Today, with six national stores and an e-commerce platform, she continues to manufacture domestically in NY and LA along with a team of assistants that are carefully trained using her techniques.

We had the opportunity to chat with Helen herself about the origins of her brand, what she looks for in the materials she uses, and why we love jewelry.

Can you tell us about your background?  How did you get into jewelry making?
I love jewelry! I took jewelry making in high school, but at the time I did not think you could be an artist for a living so I pursued other academic interests.  When I had my children I returned to making jewelry and began the journey I am still on today... 

How did the idea for the brand come about? 
I wanted to start as an online jewelry retailer at the beginning of the popularity of the internet, but then decided to feature my own creations and do that under my name.

What have been some of the biggest challenges and what have been some of the most exciting moments?
Trying to do a lot of things at once – running my family's beach resort in Montauk, NY, taking care of my family and making/marketing my jewelry.  Being featured in People magazine, on the Martha Stewart show and hearing the amazing stories people share with me about their experience with my jewelry are all highlights for me.
What qualities do you look for in choosing materials?
Natural, pure, beautiful, and sustainable. 

Why do you think we like and wear jewelry?
Gold and silver are beautiful, sparkly and feel great to wear.  I think jewelry makes you feel special because it makes you look beautiful.  Jewelry has been worn for so long in so many cultures – it has some magical qualities. It helps to identify us with a style – it is an accessory that can be a signature.  I love that my jewelry can work in so many ways and be worn to create many different styles. 

What do you believe is the importance of made in America and how does it impact your business?
I totally believe in American made.  I have been turned away from some bigger distributors who do not see the value in American made—glad to see the tide is changing.  I have been obsessed for years about keeping my product made in America. 

What would you say is the overall aesthetic?  Is there a particular item that really represents the brand?
Simple, elegant, heirloom-quality designs inspired by nature.  The alphabet and disk style charms are great items to create a personal story.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a creative business?
Love what you are doing and be ready to have it be your life. 

How has the brand evolved since its inception?
We have evolved from a seasonal motel boutique and mail order company to a multi-city boutique retailer with a successful e-commerce presence.

What’s next?
A men's collection!

Where can our readers buy Helen Ficalora jewelry?
My jewelry can be purchased online at my website, www.helenficalora.com or from one of our boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Bridgeahampton, or Palm Beach.

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