Local Focus: Seraphine Design
February 22, 2016
Brooke Seraphine is a mother, creator, artist and collector. She's the talented designer and powerfully inspired woman behind Nashville's own Seraphine Design. Her aesthetic is modern, elegant, and timeless. Every choker, bracelet, ring and necklace perfectly showcases the natural beauty of each stone. Brooke's ability to play with stunning simplicity is refreshing and completely unique to her brand. She has been one of my absolute favorite local designers to watch, and I'm very excited to share a short Q&A with her below. Enjoy.
CA: Tell me about your history as a designer and Seraphine Design.
BS: I have been designing since I was a little girl, always loved art class, always wanted to do art camp in the summer. I loved collecting stones - when I was a kid, I used kept them in egg crates and labelled each little indentation. After majoring in Art Education in college, I worked in various arts-related fields but honestly, I was a horrible employee. I didn't take direction very well and always wanted to work for myself. I started to create on a greater scale after my daughter was born. I was inspired to create and really wanted to find something that I loved doing. I hated the idea of leaving this precious little person to go back to the office working for someone else. I was determined to make something that other people would want. One day, I was cleaning out some drawers, and I came across a collar necklace passed down to me from my mother, a piece made by my uncle, who was a successful jewelry designer in Manhattan in the 70's. It was so simple, yet so chic. I immediately decided this was the design I needed to tweak. I set about modernizing it, using a thicker gauge wire and sourcing gorgeous stones. I bought a $60 drill press and started drilling stones at night on a plywood table with a shower curtain under it to protect the carpet in our spare bedroom. It was so messy and loud, but now I look back on that time fondly. I finally perfected the design, made one for myself and a few friends and was delivering pieces to clients who were literally wanting to buy the pieces off of my friends' necks within months. It was very organic and exciting. I'm still pinching myself that I get to do this for a living.
CA: What is one of the most important experiences you’ve had throughout your career in the fashion industry?
BS: I think going to market in New York was probably the most enlightening experience I've had so far. It was really cool to be in the same show as all of the major brands in the world - to see how the big boys set up their booths, their sales teams, the displays, the forklifts hanging chandeliers, flat screens, shipping containers on the piers full of merchandise from overseas, the gigantic sea freighters carrying the shipping containers. It's truly the world marketplace in full swing. And it was so BIG. You could walk for days - clothes and accessories for miles, all the new Frye boots, jewelry, Gucci, Free People. It was dreamy. The only downside is that most of it isn't for sale - samples only. That kind of drove me crazy. I felt like a kid in a candy store with no cashier.
CA: What is your hope for the success of Seraphine Design?
BS: Of course I want to expand as far as sales go and increase our list of retailers and clients. But, I know what will really measure the success of my line is longevity in the trendy fashion industry and the ability to consistently come up with fresh designs every season. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.
CA: Where do you find the wide variety of materials used to create Seraphine Designs?
BS: We source our signature stone, pyrite, from a mine outside of Lima which produces the most glittering naturally-faceted pyrite in the world. We literally just clean and cut the stones. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful things Mother Nature creates - true natural, raw beauty. The stones are hand-cut by a father and son team in Peru. It is common in the area for artisan trades to be handed down from generation to generation, and we are happy to be able to give them a living wage and consistent income.
I shop for all the semi-precious stones we use once a year at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. You can buy ANYTHING having to do with fossils or rocks or jewelry - a mammoth skeleton for your foyer (you better have a big foyer), a 10 foot tall amethyst geode, arrowheads encrusted with diamonds, fiery opals, masks from New Guinea, fossilized skulls, a petrified slice of a redwood tree (you better have a big dining room)…I could go on and on. It's insane. You see all kinds of people: hippies in tie-dye smoking weed in the parking lot, french geologists, buyers and window designers for fashion brands decked out in black leather and walking with assistants taking notes... Like I said, it's insane, so inspiring and fun.
CA: Any exciting upcoming plans for Seraphine Design?
BS: We are super excited about the pieces that will debut this spring! Expect more variety in earrings, rings and of course, new stones for our signature designs. We're also looking forward to a video feature on Refinery29. We shot in my showroom, home studio and back yard, and my whole family is in it, even my dog, which is what makes it the most special. Oh! And you may just see a little bit of Seraphine Design in everyone's favorite local show NASHVILLE this season. I hear one of the sexy men of NASHVILLE is looking for a little bling for a certain girlfriend...