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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The reaction to my “romantic, gothic, alien” jewelry that I hear (and enjoy) the most is, “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.” Other jewelers gasp when they see that my golden egg locket opens to reveal a tiny, diamond-eyed silver chicken … which, in turn, opens to reveal three gold eggs.


Click for more photos.

I even sold my 18K-gold acorn locket (with a squirrel inside) to another jeweler! You know when I would buy something from another jeweler? Never. That purchase was a huge, huge compliment. Shit, a jeweler can make herself anything she wants. She doesn’t have to buy my work unless she thinks there’s no way she’d be able to match it.


Click for more photos.

I also took it as a compliment when supermodel Christy Turlington called my Empress Wu dragon ring — which features a revolving, lapis lazuli globe clenched in the dragon’s jaws — “a bit scary but really a cool piece of art.”  Christy saw the ring when Conde Nast’s Vogue Paris featured it on its website and Facebook page.


Click for more photos.

Elsewhere in the Conde Nast empire, W’s July 2012 issue featured my Matilda sword earrings in six photos. I loved the punk looks created by stylist Marie-Amelie Sauve.


Click to read more about the feature.

Isn’t it amazing that earrings inspired by a 12-century royal lady can look totally modern?


Click for more photos of the sword earrings.

If you appreciate weaponry like swords, you’ll definitely get a kick out of my vampire heart ring with removable stake. Here’s how it looks when you first see it …


Click to see on my website.

… and here’s what you can do with it. Crazy, right?


Click to purchase at Broken English Jewelry.

Just last week, editor Jennifer Heebner of jewelry-industry magazine JCK exclaimed over the unusual detail in my new Frog and Prince Maneater ring. Jennifer sees a lot of jewelry — more than I do! — so she knows what she’s talking about.


Click for more photos.

Even my less-expensive diffusion line, WENDYB by Wendy Brandes, packs a punch. As longtime readers and customers know, I introduced my swear rings in 2008.


Click for more photos.

I showed the design to lots of retailers, but they all thought the rings were too wild for their customers. The Bloomingdale’s buyer wanted a set for herself but was too scared to show the design to her boss. That response lasted till last year, when Topshop ripped off my design. While I got Topshop to pull the design after spending $3,000 on a lawyer, the cat was out of the bag. Yesterday, someone told me she saw a similar look in Claire’s, the mass-market, low-priced accessory store for girls.

At least I was able to channel my aggravation from that experience into my awesome IDGAF necklace.


Click to purchase.

When sassy blogger Susan bought the necklace for herself, it really upset some of her readers. I think we were accused of contributing to the coarsening of civilization. I was like, “Thanks!”

Now, I normally keep my mouth shut about the ridiculous shit I hear from retailers on a regular basis, because, you know, self-preservation and diplomacy and all that. I did vent after the Topshop fiasco because what made that so very painful was how stores rejected the concept right up until the second they decided to sell it without me. But I have to make an exception by asking you readers if  — having reviewed a few of my designs — you agree with the latest retailer feedback: “At this time, my feeling is the collection is too main stream [sic] for us.” My personal reaction was …


Click to purchase.

Let me tell you, this is typical of the fashion (and related) industries. The same people will tell you your work is too outré one moment and banal the next. If you don’t have tolerance for nonsensical rejection, this isn’t the business for you. But I still resent being called “main stream” by a store that sells things like this.


Not my design!

No offense intended to the designer or purchasers of the necklace above: What I like about jewelry is that there’s something for everyone. I say that whenever people tell me that my designs are too wild for them. I go so far as encouraging folks to get themselves ultra-basic four-prong diamond studs at Walmart. Sure, I think those are as boring as hell, but I’m not stopping you from following your bliss. You can wear those and I’ll wear my funny punctuation stud earrings. We can both have what we want.


Click to purchase.

Clearly, I’m happy that safe jewelry options exist for the people that enjoy them, but don’t be calling ME “main stream” when YOUR STORE is carrying script necklaces saying “love” and “faith” and “breathe.”  On what planet are those words different, exciting or controversial? Claire’s is all over that concept, for fuck’s sake. Meanwhile, I invented my own font.

Anyway, I’m thinking of sending the jewelry buyer in question one of my GTFOH necklaces as a token of my appreciation for her taking the time to evaluate my line so thoroughly. Maybe she can ask her daughter or niece to explain the meaning to her.


Click to purchase.

While I’m talking about meaning, I might as well introduce the newest addition to the word/letter jewelry in my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes line.


TRILL necklace in sterling silver. $300. Click to purchase.

Trill means true and real. Expect to see it in jewelry stores everywhere in another year or two, when the bitches catch up to me again.

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44 Responses to “Too Mainstream? Get the Fuck Out of Here.”

  1. that is buyer speak for “f-word, I have no idea what I’m doing, can’t sell anything, probably getting fired, where is my return bus ticket?????”

    gorgeous, amazing, wonderful

    rock it.

  2. déjà pseu says:

    Wendy, your jewelry designs are many things: awesome, intricate, whimsical, original, detailed, inspired, AMAZING. But one thing they are NOT is “main stream.” DGAF about what some silly buyer says.

  3. stacy says:

    I’m SMAH and I want to take that vampire stake out of your beautiful (NOT mainstream ring) and stab those bitches. One suggestion for you — please indicate in bigger letters that the “faith” necklace is NOT your design. And even though this whole BS process is frustrating, I would listen to what an expert at JCK says about your work. Her opinion is more credible.

    • WendyB says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got some real feedback instead of crap like “it’s not coherent enough but it’s also too merchandised”? They sound like they’re just spewing out random words in no particular order.

  4. Main stream? That retailer must not have actually looked at your designs.

  5. tasha says:

    There is so many reason why I adore you and the main reason is because you’re not afraid to voice your opinion. Your designs are for the true and bold. Its sad these retailers will knock off your designs instead of collaborating with you. I remember the whole Topshop mess and it truly saddened me. I have never given that company and they probably will never see a penny from me. Keep being you and kick ass!

  6. Jen says:

    As an accessories buyer, I’m enjoying reading these comments. By the way, I wouldn’t call your line mainstream at all. It’s beautiful and intriguing – and I see a LOT of jewelry lines. If asked, I will give specific reasons for not buying a line and if the vendor doesn’t like it? Well, IDGAF.

    • WendyB says:

      I love to get REAL meaningful specific reasons for a rejection. I can definitely take constructive criticism-type rejections (I’ve only gotten one of those ever, but I took it to heart) or practical things (not our pricepoint, customers are scared of dragons). I’d rather get an honest reason than not, but for someone to say I’m too “main stream” made me feel like I’m living in Bizarro World. 😀

      • Jen says:

        I agree – that’s a cop-out reason and isn’t useful for anyone. I assume that, as an artist, if you are competent enough to start your own business, then surely you can handle an honest response from a buyer.

      • WendyB says:

        I’m really wondering if she saw my lookbook at all or if she confused me with someone else, because this makes so little sense. “I just hate it” would be more reasonable and honest than saying my work is mainstream! That’s like saying the sky is purple with green polkadots…it simply isn’t true!

  7. margaret says:

    Opening new accounts sucks on all sorts of levels, but none more than when you deal with a buyer who is too complacent/overwhelmed/lazy/etc. to take an honest look at a new line. That “too mainstream” line is a lot like the “I’m covered” line I often hear from a potential new buyer.

    Personally I find your stuff gorgeous. Clearly I am not alone.

    • WendyB says:

      I’d rather get the “we’re not doing any new designers now” line (or at least any new designers who aren’t celebrities, which is the truth of that) than one that sounds like she didn’t even look at my work.

  8. Christine says:

    Was she/he serious? Geez, how do these people get their jobs? There is such a huge gap between plain pearl earrings versus your pearl earring with the tsavorites. One of these things is not like the other! IN ANY WAY!

    As an example my WendyB jewelry has to be carefully locked up, since my son took the “Y” ring of my NYC rings to wear on his middle finger. He also has my Isabella wolf necklace. One of my nieces has begged to wear the Lady Jane necklace to her prom (and has suggested it would be amazing if I gave it to her…ha!) Anyone who sees my pieces are amazed at the detail, the quality and the beauty. Too mainstream? (My son and niece are on the appreciative side of jewelry)

    As Stacy said, sounds like she’ll be fired soon, for the inability to say anything that’s not a buzzword. To quote Stacy again, dumb bitch.

  9. Melanie says:

    Your egg/chicken/egg piece is one of my all-time faves. Absolutely exquisite! And there are too many close seconds to list.
    What a Vicious circle! What’s speaks volumes about your talent is that you set the trends.

  10. Vous? “Main stream”? On what planet????

  11. Megan Mae says:

    Hardly mainstream! One of the reasons I started following a jewelry blog (yours!) was that you broke the mold. I dislike the traditional unless there’s some kind of twist. Your jewelry shows true artistry, and your diffusion line is just snarky enough to appeal to my cynical side.

    I want that SRSLY? necklace with a fiery passion.

  12. Denise says:

    I have to stop watching Family Guy, I read the first swear rings as ‘fart’.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the Empress Wu and Frog and Prince Maneater rings, the detail is just exquisite. Most definitley like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’m buying lottery tickets.

  13. mystyle says:

    Hi there!! Your jewellery is what makes you so unique and envied in the jewellery world, long may your stunning designs continue and be coveted by so many!! xxx

    • WendyB says:

      Thank you, Sharon! And one of my favorite things about the jewelry business is that I started this blog to promote it and wound up meeting awesome Pimm’s-drinking wimmins like you.

  14. sulky kitten says:

    Sounds like a standard line they just give to everybody. This person clearly has NO CLUE about her own job.Main stream? Not in a million years!

    • WendyB says:

      I feel like if they need a standard line, just stick to “It’s not our style.” That applies to everything! I can’t deal with illogical shizz like this.

  15. Oprah says:

    wow. I was looking at this post thinking “hunh, she gets her publicist to blog for her. Or maybe she’s posting a press release. Maybe she just doesn’t realize that this kind of masturbatory self-congratulation is unseemly.” I mean, your work is clearly masterful, but why condescend to your fellow jewelers (god forbid YOU get caught DEAD buying their work, rather than just ripping it off, as you seem to imply: ” Shit, a jeweler can make herself anything she wants. She doesn’t have to buy my work unless she thinks there’s no way she’d be able to match it.”) Then I found that the entire thing was sparked by a negative comment from a retailer. Classy way to take criticism. Maybe it’s all tongue-in-cheek, but it saddens me that someone who is so obviously at the peak of her game is using her blog to shower herself with praise and exercise petty grievances.

    • WendyB says:

      Dear Oprah,
      Does your nom de guerre mean I can come jump on your couch and scream about my love for Katie Holmes?

      Allow me to address your concerns.

      1. I do all my own writing. I was a journalist before I was a jeweler, so no publicist writes on my behalf. Nor is this my standard post — this was a totally over-the-top post due to the absurdity of the retailer’s comment, which I’ll elaborate on below. I invite you to read some of my other 2000+ posts to get an idea of my usual style.

      2. I will guess that you don’t have your own business or you’d know some level of unseemly “masturbatory self-congratulation” is essential. When I was young and naive and safe in the corporate world, I hated people who tooted their own horn. The minute I was on my own, I realized no one was going to promote me unless I paid him/her, so it would be necessary to promote myself at times. Wallflowers don’t get anywhere; I’ve learned that the hard way. No one is going to swoop in and save my ass if I’m passive.

      3. I’m sorry you misunderstood my point about other jewelers. I never wear other designers’ jewelry (though I admire and often wish I could wear their work) because that’s not good for marketing. People — both old acquaintances and new — always look at what I’m wearing and ask, “Are those your own designs?” How would it look if I preferred someone else’s work to my own? “Oh, isn’t this beautiful? You can get it from Linda Lee Johnson at Barneys!” The jeweler who bought my acorn was giving up one opportunity to promote her own work in favor of promoting my work, and that’s incredibly flattering and generous. As I recall, I sold it to her for cost because I thought she was being so kind. As for her matching my work, she does different designs than I do. No, she can’t match my work and I can’t match hers either. I see her designs and can’t imagine how she dreams them up.

      4. I’ve gotten all kinds of criticism — some constructive, some crazy — in the eight years I’ve been doing this. I normally don’t share any of it. The reason I shared this one is because my work is clearly not mainstream. Usually I’m told it is too edgy! I don’t believe the buyer even looked at my work, or she would know that. So, it was really kind of hilarious as well as aggravating. Even if she’d simply said she hated my work, that would have been legitimate to me. She’s allowed to hate it. I wouldn’t have anything to say about that. But why criticize it for something that it’s clearly not? So, yes, I was poking fun of the situation because it was ridiculous.

      5. I’m flattered that you think I’m at the peak of my game, but if I believed that was true, I would despair, shut down the business immediately and hang myself with a sturdy gold chain because that’s a pretty pathetic peak. I’m very much an emerging designer with only two retail outlets for my work. The kind of press clips I’ve gotten make for a lovely scrapbook but they don’t pay the bills. You might want to check out this post I wrote about how fame doesn’t equal fortune: http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2.....l-fortune/ And I don’t have a fraction of the kind of fame I was referring to in that post.

      I hope this helps.

      Tom Cruise

  16. stacy says:

    I can’t believe Oprah’s reading your blog!!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, the irony. [shakes head]

    You should just do an “I’m ahead of my time” necklace and get it overwith!

    How these retailing eejits missed the boat on your prescient diffusion line escapes me.

    But then I remember–these retailers know full well that they can steal your ideas and produce them “more cheaply” on their own.

    If I go on, I’ll fill my swear jar.

  18. Candice says:

    I can only think that the buyer who called your work “main stream”, gave out email instructions to her intern who confused your collection with another and mixed up her email responses. Whether they love your collection or not, mainstream is not how anyone would describe it.