One of the best parts of running my online boutique is seeking out fresh new designers whose creations I think my customers would enjoy. Lindsay and I first met for coffee a few months ago and I was instantly smitten with her colorful designs and, even more awesome, her mission to give back. Touched by a trip with her mom to Tanzania in 2004, Lindsay pledged to donate 10% of each sale to an orphanage there and has since put four kids through high school. As a teacher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, she noticed students in need of reading help and transitioned to donating 10% toward literacy in Teton County. She recently relocated to New York and intends to contribute to nationwide literacy programs as her business grows. An eye for design, a desire to give back, and an obvious passion for what she does... Lindsay is a huge career inspiration to me and I can't wait to introduce her work to all of you!
Name: Lindsay Wagner
Title: Owner, Lindsay's Necklaces
Location: Upper East Side, New York City
What was your first job ever? Did you always want to design jewelry?
I started making necklaces ten years ago as a sophomore in high school. I made them for fun — graduation presents for friends. People would say, "Oh, my aunt owns a store in Caliornia, my mom has a boutique in Florida, have you thought of selling here or there?" All of a sudden, I was in thirty boutiques and had turned my hobby into a nice little business. I was so young! I had just gotten back from a trip to Africa where there was one boy who was really talented in architecture. As I started making money selling necklaces, I wanted to pay for him to get through school. We wound up putting two boys and two girls through secondary school in Tanzania.
Congratulations! That's such an incredible cause. Have you been running this business for ten years straight?
The business tapered off in college and then I moved to Jackson Hole to teach for three years. But this year I decided I wanted to try New York and this is where I had to be to make the business work. There have been ups and downs and plenty of challenges but it's been an exciting process.
Tell me about the process of designing a new piece.
I love traveling — a lot of my designs are inspired by the people I meet and the colors I see in different places. I get inspired to do different things with different textiles... I'll even have friends bring back fabric from their trips! Each necklace is cut and sewn individually, beaded, and then sewn again at the end.
How do you stay organized?
If you clean up as you go, anything can be organized fast. The best time to do something is when you're thinking about it.
That's awesome advice. What's inspiring you lately?
I just got back from Burma, Thailand, and Laos and came back with tons of new silks. I spent time in weaving villages and these incredible floating markets that we had to take a canoe to get to. I'm so inspired when I met the people who are working so hard to create the fabric that I get to work with.
How would you describe your average customer?
There are older women who are wearing Lindsay's Necklaces to bridge and little girls who wear them to school. We work with everything from Lilly prints that are super preppy to African prints that are a little edgier... There's really something for everyone! I'm all about a colorful woman who wants to make a statement. My grandmother was my biggest supporter!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I try to go for a run, drink a cup of coffee, and respond to all my emails. Then I sew, fill orders, ship everything out, and schedule a lunch or meeting to make sure I get out of my apartment every day!
What’s the most and least fun part of your job?
The least fun is bookkeeping and keeping track of receipts. The most fun is picking out the fabric and traveling to go get it all! And I love direct sales — it's pretty amazing to meet people who are just as excited about the product as I am.
What’s one “pinch me” moment you’ve had so far?
I was walking down Lexington Ave. with my mom and there was a woman walking toward us speaking in French. I realized she was wearing my necklace so I ran down the block and was like, "I love your necklace!" and she went, "Oh! You have one too!" I wear them literally everywhere I go. I'll know I've made it when every woman in the world is wearing one!
Any advice for someone who wants to design jewelry?
You really have to love what you do — you can always see it when people don't. The second I lose excitement, so will Lindsay's Necklaces. Just stay true to yourself and keep your soul in it!
Keep up with Lindsay: