Marching to her own beads
Published 12:35 pm, Thursday, April 15, 2010
When Caroline Constantine Rosen took a job in the fashion industry following her college graduation, she knew she had to look her best every day. But as a woman in her early 20s, she was having trouble finding the funds to be a full-time fashionista.
"I didn't have enough clothing, and I didn't have enough money to buy a lot of clothing," she said. "So I started making necklaces and wearing all black."
She still remembers the first necklace she created.
"I just went into a bead store and found a pretty strand. I already had a broach that went with it, and I thought to myself, `I can make this work," she said.
She was already experienced in painting, having graduated from Hobart and William Smith College with a degree in studio art and a concentration in painting.
"Being a painter helped me figure out the way to work with colors and shapes," she said.
Before she knew it, the quirky, one-of-a-kind necklaces she wore each day became more than just a part of her wardrobe; they were a full-time job.
She began her boutique jewelry design company, Spotted Dog Jewelry, in 2003.
"I had this spotted dog, who loved wearing things around her neck. Necklaces, ribbon, Christmas bows, you name it," she said. "So I figured Spotted Dog would be a great name for my business."
She and her husband -- with whom she will be celebrating her seventh anniversary in June -- have moved all around the Northeast in the years since she strung her first strand, toting buckets of beads to several cities before settling in Darien. Now she spends her time creating necklaces in a sun-lit room on the second floor of her Relihan Road home.
She works with a lot of freshwater pearls, as well as vintage beads.
"Right now I'm doing a lot of work with vintage brass chains, which I have plaited, and beads from the 1940s to the 1980s," she said.
The combination of these components yields a unique look, which attracts a diverse set of buyers.
She doesn't have a storefront, but sells her collections online and at trunk shows and works a lot with private clients.
"I do a lot of bridal," she said, pointing to a work-in-progress piece made of freshwater pearls in a silver color scheme. Bridal pieces are fun for her, because she has the ability to construct something that will have significant meaning for her client, she said.
"I definitely have an aesthetic, and I think certain people gravitate toward that," she said. "If you're coming to me, it's like you like something I've done and you want to expand on that."
Many times, she will work through several drafts and versions of a necklace before she and the bride consider it finished.
"Some things come together in an hour. Some will take a week," she said. "I'm a one-man band. But I like having my stamp on something, and having it be personal. If you call, you're going to get me, which is great."
She has a lot of pride in her product, and enjoys seeing her customers have fun with her creations.
"When I see someone wearing one of my necklaces in town, I get really excited about it," she said. "And I'm not a born salesperson, so I really like to see when a customer just falls in love with a piece of my jewelry. I just like when people come, have fun and try things on. That's what it's all about."
While she has customers from all over the country, due to the ease of online shopping, she's also had neighbors knock on her door in a pinch, looking for a cute accessory on their way out the door to a party.
Most of her Darien customers are buying her vintage metal necklaces right now, she said.
"They're extremely popular, and they're all $58 or under. And you can just throw it on and go to the grocery store," she said.
She's planning to bring a solid stock of her vintage metal products to her next trunk show, which will take place at Megan Dey Photography, located at 975 Post Road, on April 22 from 6 to 9 p.m., and will feature her products along with those of other local businesswomen. She'll also have a wide variety of her pieces from her other collections.
For more information about Rosen or to check out her collections, visit www.spotteddogjewelry.com.