Saturday, April 4th was a special day. Alexis Bittar graced Chicago’s Nordstrom shoppers with his presence and, of course, his amazing jewelry. And I, little ole’ me of the budding and growing Belle Meets World blog, got the opportunity to spend 10 sacred minutes with Alexis, interviewing him and asking him everything I’ve ever wanted to know from one of my role models. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! #pinchme.
The first thing I was dying to ask him was not about his latest collection or spring trends but rather about his journey as a self-taught and self-made creative and artisan. As a blogger trying to build a life of creative pursuits, I wanted to know from one of my icons what he did when the going got tough. Because it’s tough. And I need some help to stick it out and keep going with the things I love.
“When I first started, the business elements drove the creative elements and vice versa, so it kept itself going because it had to. I really reached a turning point after September 11th. People weren’t buying anything for months, and I had to make a decision to recommit to building the business by revisiting my original vision – and then sticking to it. Today we are so much bigger with nearly 400 employees – I have people to help me (and make me) write down that vision twice a year now!”
But in all seriousness, Alexis shared one other tidbit of goodness that I should tell you – which was to say NO when you can’t do something. He’s been asked to create furniture collections or to contribute to other projects with unrealistic timelines that he simply couldn’t meet. While they were great opportunities for him that had great potential, they didn’t necessarily align to that vision he so cherishes, and he had to get comfortable with saying, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it.” Wow – what sage advice for a blogger who’s drawn to all things that glitter and shine – both literally and figuratively – just like a magpie.
We moved on…
“So tell me about your blog,” he said. (What? He’s asking me about me?! Yay!) I explained a little bit about it (www.bellemeetsworld.com) and a few of the other blogs I write for (Beauty Contributor for www.chitownfashionista.com), and he said, “Good for you, and keep at it. Blogging is everything right now, and it will only get bigger. I think about people like Tavi Gevinson who was just in my ad campaign with Iris Apfel. I am so impressed with her that she had the foresight to understand the importance of social media at age – what, like, 12?!?!”
We talked a little bit more about this idea of the blogosphere continuing to grow and evolve. We decided that magazines better look out because readers are turning more and more to bloggers to sell them their next piece of clothing, handbag or beauty service. See, ladies?! We’re on the right track.
My last question turned to the jewelry itself. “As a young woman beginning to build a jewelry collection, what do you recommend – knowing we don’t have a ton of money to drop but that we value well-made pieces that we can love, cherish and wear often?” I asked.
“There isn’t any one piece I can recommend” he said, “but it should definitely be something that you are comfortable in. While you’re young your collection will be small, so you’ll wear the item often. This will obviously change as you get older and have more money to spend on quality jewelry. You’ll expand your collection and therefore wear each piece less often – so they can be more ornate and out there.”
In other words, ladies, choose wisely. But if you’re anything like me, don’t choose too conservatively. As bloggers, we’re the statement-makers and trend-setters. Choosing something a little more wild and attention-getting for everyday wear isn’t out of the question and is in fact and most likely, the norm for each of us.
So, what did I choose, you ask? Well, one thing certainly wasn’t enough! I found two lovely pieces that I’ll treasure as a reminder of this experience and as cornerstones of my main collection. The first, a standard Lucite bangle – Bittar’s signature – that he was so kind to sign for me; and the second, a gorgeous deco cocktail ring with rhinestones and a Lucite core in the same color as the bangle. I’ll wear them as a set for special occasions and alone as often as possible, depending on the outfit.
To finish, I’d like to express my gratitude to the Windy City Blogger Collective – both its leaders and its members – for the opportunities and support I’ve received since joining. What a unique group of women we are! It takes a strong and confident person to lift up her comrades and share the blogosphere. In most major cities, to blog is to beat your competition – no, to bludgeon your competition. How refreshing to be part of something that lives up to Chicago’s friendly, welcoming and warm reputation. Bravo, my friends!
by Elise Giannasi, Belle Meets World