Thursday, October 4, 2012

Introducing... Winnie Lambert of Sweet Lena's Retro

Winnie Lambert Sweet Lena's Retro
My background is in adult education, research, and higher education administration. I recently moved from Washington, D.C. to Yorktown, Virginia to be closer to family. My number one job right now is taking care of my 4 year-old daughter, Lena, while coping with the autoimmune diseases that have been plaguing me over the past couple of years. My love for all things jewelry related has been my saving grace because it's something I do for myself that makes me happy. Some people love yoga or exercise but they've obviously never been to an auction or an estate sale! Nothing gets the blood pumping faster!

When did you become interested in vintage jewelry? I was really young. I wore my mom's scarab bracelet from the 60s to school every day in the 6th grade. And I was always borrowing her brooches to wear on my coats. I think the only time I wore jewelry that wasn't vintage was during the 80s. I couldn't resist the jelly bracelets and paint splattered metal earrings!

How and when did you get involved in selling Jewelry?
 My first sale was about a year and a half ago. I got hit hard with thyroid disease and wasn't able to work. I was making a lot of jewelry at that time, both to sell in the local shops and to give away as gifts. My mom purchased a huge box of vintage costume jewelry from a local estate, thinking I could use the beads and findings in my own jewelry making. We started sorting though the jewelry and realized it was mostly new old stock from the 60s through 80s - and the pieces were so gorgeous I couldn't possibly take them apart. I had over 600 pieces of jewelry on my hands so I opened an eBay shop and started selling.

Do you have a particular sale that stands out for you? Yes, several. I love when people write to inquire about my jewelry and in the process tell me about themselves. I sold several pieces to a prop master for a hit television show on ABC. I keep meaning to watch and see if any of the cast members are wearing jewelry from my shop. Once I received an e-mail from a buyer who, unbeknownst to me, was a former child actress who left the business to open her own interior design firm. She had purchased several pieces from me and I was so appreciative that I added a little gift to her package and thanked her with a hand written card. She wrote to say that both the gift and the handwritten note were such a surprise to her in this day and age. Her kind message to me and her valuable feedback made me more confident about being a shop owner. And sometimes a sale stands out for me because I know I'm selling something special that I'm not likely to find again. This Ming's of Honolulu book piece is a good example:
What is your favorite resource for researching vintage jewelry?
 Illusion Jewels is always my starting point: and the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, and Makers' Marks:

Do you belong to any of the online Collectors discussion groups? Yes, I recently joined the Jewelry Ring on Yahoo.

What is your favorite era or style of jewelry and do you have an example of a favorite piece?
 I love selling and collecting Victorian Era pieces because they're delicate little bits of history. Like this Victorian Era pinchbeck and paste brooch:

And there are pieces I buy because I love wearing them. I'm currently going through a Kunio Matsumoto for Trifari phase. This necklace is in my heavy rotation:
I also love collecting atomic era multi-strand necklaces from Japan and West Germany, and I love mid century pieces that are sculptural and geometric.

When you’re standing in front of a table full of jewelry, what catches your eye?
The Lucite or Bakelite bangle that is so heavy and substantial it could be used as a weapon in self-defense!

 Do you have or have your sold in a brick and mortar shop? Why did you decide to sell online? Which do you prefer? If you don’t sell in a brick and mortar shop, have you considered it, and what keeps you from selling in that venue?
 I've sold pieces in a bricks and mortar shop but not one that I owned. I prefer to sell online because I enjoy doing business with people from all over the world. Certainly there are benefits to having a physical shop, but I prefer the low overhead that comes with selling online. I don't have to hire employees, provide insurance, rent a space, stock an entire store, etc. And I get to be open for business 24 hours a day!

How do you most benefit from being a member of VJSE? What is your favorite method of promoting the VJSE Team and your shop?
For me the support I've received from my fellow team members has been invaluable. And being on a promotional team has increased my sales and traffic to my shop. Right now my favorite method of promotion is Pinterest. I'm in the process of pinning my favorite item from each shop. I pretend I'm going shopping and it's been a lot of fun!
Pinterest -
Twitter -
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