As bad and blustery as this winter’s weather has been, it’s a boon to some people: Snowplow drivers. Shovel and roof rake sellers.
And a Weston jewelry designer.
Meredith Haute grew up in White Plains. She worked on Oprah’s 1st website, then became Meryl Streep’s personal assistant. Visiting the actress’s Litchfield County home, Meredith fell in love with Connecticut. The beauty of the hills, and the ever-changing seasons, touched her artist’s heart.
But she and her husband ended up in Florida, a state distinctly lacking in both hills and seasons.
After her 1st child was born, Meredith turned a love into a business. She sold antique and vintage jewelry. She learned how to repair 80-year-old pieces — and decided to try her hand at making her own.
A year ago last Thanksgiving, Meredith and her husband moved north. They chose Weston because of its beautiful setting. They enjoyed their 1st 4 seasons — but this winter threw them for a loop.
The pine trees in Meredith’s backyard were the only ones not devastated by weeks of snow. Inspired by their hardiness, she designed a pair of pine needle-themed earrings.
Dreaming of spring, she created other jewelry evoking cherry blossoms.
Stores in the tri-state area loved Meredith’s work — all sterling and gold vermeil. They ordered on the spot. Suzie Creamcheese in Westport is a local outlet.
Meredith’s designs follow trends: Her earrings are “bigger and shapelier” than those in the past, she says. At the same time “people say they’re new and fresh-looking.”
Meredith’s jewelry features “lots of hoops and marquee shapes,” she says. “They’re bold yet delicate — not gaudy.”
Still, one Westport store owner told Meredith her jewelry was “not big and jeweled enough.”
That was fine. “I’d rather be in fewer stores, and keep the designs true to myself,” Meredith says.
As the economy wobbles to its feet, what’s the market for custom jewelry?
“The high, high end — super-jewelry — is doing well,” Meredith reports.
“I use sterling, gold filled, semi-precious metals,” she says. “Because of the economy I have to price myself a little lower than I would have in the past 3 or 4 years.
Yet she can’t go too low — silver is expensive. “I’m fine-tuning my prices all the time,” Meredith notes.
Her line retails for $5o to $300. Her biggest sellers are in the middle: $70 to $150.
Though this winter was tough for many people, Meredith’s business is taking off. She is interviewing for her 1st sales reps, and may hire a PR firm. She might exhibit at upcoming shows, and is ready to approach Henri Bendel. “If someone is established, he’ll take a look,” Meredith says.
Meanwhile — though winter provided great inspiration — like everyone else in Connecticut, Meredith is ready for spring.
“I can’t wait!” she says. “I can’t believe it snowed again this week!”