Every other Thursday, The FADER asks employees and employers at our favorite shops around the world what their most cherished in-store item is for our column Staff Affections. This week, Elizabeth Raiss caught up with Rachel Thames of Brooklyn jewelry emporium Catbird to chat about their elegant Ballerina Collar Necklace.
What are the origins of Catbird? Catbird was opened by this fabulous, stylish New York woman named Rony who originally opened the shop on Metropolitan Ave in Brooklyn, where it sold clothes and shoes and a little bit of jewelry. She realized that the only thing that was selling was the jewelry, and that’s really what the shop has evolved into now, and where her passion lies. Catbird jewelry is all about the dainty– we like sparkle that isn’t in your face. We love handmade jewelry and support a ton of local designers, we’re all about the community and building beautiful things that you can wear every day. Thankfully, we’re celebrating our ten year anniversary in the fall.
What’s the manufacturing process like behind the Catbird in-house line? It’s actually made about a five minute walk from our store. We have a studio space in Williamsburg with thirteen jewelers, compared to, like, two only two years ago. Our line is all handmade, but it’s still growing really quickly. We really try to focus on making classic pieces, but it’s great to be able to hear real time customer feedback in the brick and mortar store. If there’s something they want that we don’t have, we can actually turn around and produce it pretty quickly from our in house line. It’s awesome.
Tell us about the Ballerina Collar Necklace? We’ve had the ballerina collar for probably eight months now. It was part of a collection inspired by dancers– really graceful, delicate, beautiful pieces. All of them involve a bar of some sort to tie even further into that dance theme. I love this piece, I prefer to wear it with a collar buttoned all the way up, but I’ve been seeing girls getting all three colors and stacking them, which looks sick. We really encourage our customers to mix and match Catbird pieces with pieces they already own. We have a section of our website that’s just pictures customers send in of how they wear our jewelry, and sometimes it will just be one teeny, tiny Catbird ring and a ton of other crazy vintage pieces.
What defines Catbird now, and what do you see as the next steps for the company? I would say we’re really a destination for those delicate knuckle rings. We definitely didn’t start the trend—I remember walking around a museum and seeing a painting of a Renaissance woman wearing one—but we like to think we brought it back. We just came out with our own line of engagement rings, which is really exciting. It’s only five or six pieces right now but we’re hoping to see it evolve into something bigger. And for our anniversary in the fall we’re going to come out with some really special limited edition pieces.