Jewelry designer Lisa Salzer is the founder of Lulu Frost, a New York based jewelry brand known for its iconic Plaza collections and cult following. Drawing from her family’s generations of involvement in the estate jewelry business – led by her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Rock Frost – Salzer launched Lulu Frost in 2004. By blending an expertise in art history with antique, vintage and modern elements, Salzer reinvents timeless classics for her faithful clientele. Salzer recently designed exclusive pieces for Amanda Hearst’s Maison de Mode pop-up currently going on now at Miami Art Basel.
Your grandmother was an inspiration for Lulu Frost – has she continued to inspire specific collections? In what way?
My grandmother Elizabeth Frost inspires specific collections all the time – her elegance and grace infuse all of my work. The next collection I’m working on now for FW14 will be an homage to her, actually. I’m focusing on “classic” jewelry, which was her favorite style. She always wore her pearls, her gold floral clip-ons and her lion brooch.
What do you love about estate jewelry?
I love the history and the craftsmanship. As an art history major, I appreciate evolving styles of art and jewelry, so studying estate jewelry very intriguing to me.
Can you tell us a bit about your development strategy when you first launched your collection?
When I first began, my strategy was to find very special vintage pieces to incorporate with new elements to create something exciting. I love the thrill of the hunt for one-of-a-kind pieces, so this strategy suited me well. One of my mottos is that if you love what you’re doing, you won’t mind working hard for it – that’s where I found myself in my first few years and it was very exciting for me.
How has your brand evolved in the past ten years?
Lulu Frost has evolved into much more of a lifestyle brand – my clientele appreciate the past while keeping things modern – we are much more than a jewelry brand to people. We help people tell their stories through our jewelry.
Was there a turning point?
I think there was definitely a turning point when I discovered the room numbers from the Plaza Hotel in 2005. Vogue did a feature on my work at that time, and many retailers came calling to carry Lulu Frost. It was so exciting as a young designer to find success early on in my career. I am forever grateful to that day in ’05 when I found those bronze room numbers!
Has the way people shop for jewelry changed over the last ten years?
Not really – jewelry is an emotional and very personal purchase, and I think it will always be that. It is a pleasure to really connect with my clientele on a personal level and find that piece that “speaks” to them as an individual.
What do you attribute your longstanding customer following to?
I think we’ve developed a loyal following because we have so many pieces that are modern classics. When someone begins to love Lulu Frost, they can’t just own one piece – that would be like having only one bite of a delicious meal! You need all the elements together to create the full Lulu picture. For example, you may have your art deco earrings, but then you also need a Plaza number, a cut steel cuff, a 100-year necklace, and pieces from each seasonal collection. I think our clientele are Lulu collectors and I love that!
How did you team up with Amanda Hearst’s pop up for Art Basel?
Amanda and I are old friends – I admire her commitment to the environment. I love her ethical pop-up shop because it celebrates handmade, specialized products. It’s always such a pleasure to work with Amanda, she’s a visionary.
Did you create exclusive pieces for Maison de Mode?
Yes, we created special one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that are unique to the pop-up.
Amongst the sea of jewelry designers, do you find it challenging to continue being innovative?
It is a challenge, but one that I relish. I adore designing and can’t seem to stop! Thankfully, it comes very naturally to me to be creative so it’s my favorite part of the job.
Are you enjoying the limelight and having reached this point? What’s been the most rewarding part of being a jewelry designer?
Ha! I don’t really consider myself to be in the “limelight,” but I am extremely grateful for everything I’ve worked hard to achieve. Without a doubt, my most rewarding part of the job is seeing women I admire wearing my work. It’s a huge honor and privilege to have people spend their hard-earned money on something I have created. Nothing can beat seeing a chic stranger on a street, anywhere from my hometown of NYC to Tokyo to London and everywhere in between, in her own beloved piece of Lulu Frost. It’s what makes me tick 🙂