Indie Interview: Elena Calabrese

elena calabrese spring 07.jpg

Elena Calabrese was kind enough to undergo an Indie Interview with SF Indie Fashion. I first saw Calabrese’s designs at RAG in Hayes Valley, but have since run into them at various shopping events in the city. I own two of her necklaces, and I love the way they hover between earthy and sophisticated. The overall result is a very Bay Area look, but one that could easily be at home on couture runways.

Designers, check out her advice on San Francisco vs. New York. Shoppers, click through to her site via the image or the link below to view more of her Spring/Summer 2007 collection, which uses cruelty-free bull horn.

Vital Stats:

Company: Elena Calabrese Jewelry Design

Location: Sausalito

How long: 10 years

Finish the following sentence: When someone wears my accessories, I feel…

… happy that they’re happy.

Your fashion icons:

Hmmm, funny, I don’t pay much attention to fashion people.

Day job?

Accessory Designer (currently unemployed)

As an artist, what drives you? What compels you to keep designing?

As I see things that inspire me, whether it’s a color, an interior/architecture, a cool hotel, something in nature or a place, it’s a way to create an expression of that inspiration. I love to look for new materials that convey a certain look that I’m into at that moment, or maybe it’s a color. What’s cool is that often, simultaneously, creative people are thinking the same things and that’s when trends are born. I love that it’s constantly changing.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Right now, working solo, I’m way too social for that.

You’ve spent a good deal of time living in New York. What are the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing design in the Bay Area compared to a design hub like New York?

The problem with the Bay Area is that your choices are limited, as in companies to work for. My advice would be to make decisions in your early part of your career based on what you could learn from each job. Get a variety of experience, work for big companies and small because you really develop a different skill base in each experience. It’s important while you are relatively unattached to a mortgage or family to move around. It’s the best way to get promoted into bigger positions.
NYC has great opportunity, but by no means is it mandatory for success. It should however be experienced in one way or another, even for just a summer internship.

How many shows do you participate in each year?

About 10

How important are trunk shows, shopping fairs, etc. to your business?

Since my business is a part time venture, it’s very important. I prefer to sell at shows because they’re fun and I like working with the customer, and I can keep prices down. I only sell to 3 stores right now, RAG in SF and 2 stores in Brooklyn.

If you were a metal, what would you be?

Platinum, with a patina 😉

If you could sell or display your jewelry anywhere in the world, what location would you choose?

Movies and couture runway shows.

Tell us about your latest or most recent collection.

It’s made from buffalo horn rings that are a transparent amber or grey color, very cool.
The collection of necklaces and earrings are combined with rare, faceted grey and green chrysophase, brushed vermeii gold beads, and gold-filled chain. It’s earthy but sexy.
Can see it at under “whats new” Spring/Summer 07.

What’s on the horizon for you in 2007?

Want to design home furnishings & interiors, new job and maybe more school!