Vintage inspired jewellery designer and creator of Covet Originals, Andrea Brent, knows that the key to making any outfit is not only just a great pair of heels or a great bag, but an eye grabbing; and history carrying, piece of jewellery. Andrea’s latest collection of brass, pearls and cameos will certainly have any vintage seeking fashionista, coveting their latest vintage find.
Mateo Magazine: Your line is specifically vintage focused? Why vintage accessories?
Covet Originals: Vintage pieces, be it jewellery, furniture, or clothes, intimately connect us to the past. I love finding pieces with a back story that I can share with my customers. Vintage also separates the owner apart from all of the cookie-cutter styles that are so prevalent as vintage pieces tend to be more original. And, fashion aside, I really do just feel better re-using materials. I simply hate waste.
MM: Vintage accessories and clothing have always been a way for people to relate to the past. Do you find each piece you create is a window into another era or point in time?
CO: That can be very true. I do a lot of custom work and I love working with inherited costume jewellery-- bold, fun, and bright pieces that have far more sentimental value than monetary value. I think that turning your bequeathed jewellery into something that you will actually wear honors the piece and the person far better than keeping it in a storage box somewhere, never to be seen. If you wear it in a new way, you are still reminded of the person when you wear it, even if it is in a different form.
MM: What are some of your favorite pieces in your collection?
CO: I currently have a limited collection of brass key plates from an antique market in France. They are very detailed with filigree and flowers but they were, at one point, real hardware. I combined them with raw brass chain and pearls in soft pinks and creams which have a fantastic Rococo feel.
MM: Mateo Magazine is about inspiring our readers, and even our own writers. What inspires you?
CO: I get really inspired by people with a unique individual style. I love people watching and seeing women who assert their style and add an edge. Even anyone, who isn't afraid to be quirky or a little weird, I believe that my line is a bit on the bold side so I love when women who are really confident with their own style buy my pieces.
MM: Is there a fashion icon or designer that inspires your collections?
CO: If I could only chose one, I would have to say costume jeweler Miriam Haskell, although, Carole Tannenbaum, the Canadian queen of vintage collecting has always been a big hero of mine.
MM: How do you want your supporters to feel inspired by jewellery you create?
CO: The biggest compliment I can think of is if someone decided to plan their outfit around their piece of jewellery. I like to hope that that happens once in a while, at least at the beginning. Really, I just want my clients to feel as though what they buy looks great with what they wear and they can wear it often.
MM: What motivates you?
CO: I get really excited by searching for materials, spending time looking for the perfect piece at a market or just stumbling across something completely unexpected. I can hardly wait to get back home and start planning what I'm going to do.
MM: Shopping at vintage markets for the latest vintage finds must be a challenge when you have a specific idea or someone has requested a specific piece. How much does originality factor into your designs?
CO: Originality is key but I rarely enter a flea market or a supply store with any idea of what to buy. I fumble my way through flea markets, letting the pieces inspire me, picking things up and putting them down. I usually buy something just because I like it and I feel that it has potential. I rarely have any clue about what I'm actually going to do with it, unless it's something that regularly makes its way into my collection such as vintage chandelier crystals, brass chain or keys.
MM: What are some of the materials being used in your pieces?
CO: The collection is constantly evolving and changing. I love working with natural brass. I love how it can be soft and feminine or more hard-lined and industrial depending on the weight of the link. One constant in my collections is detailed chain work. Lots of chain fringe and tassels, combined with semi-precious stones or pearls. I use real pearls and fake pearls, both new and vintage. I tend to use a lot of natural crystal. I love how aesthetically neutral clear crystal can be until the light hits it in a certain way and then it just glows.
MM: Travelling regularly must have been a strong influence with a vast selection of your collections.
CO: Definitely. I found fantastic odd and ends in Europe over the spring, which is always a treasure trove for vintage enthusiasts. I really do love simply finding pieces in Canada though. Canadians are so well traveled and our flea markets reflect that. I could spend all day going through bins at St. Lawrence Market and my favorite stuff is always the mishmash of so-called junk jewellery that the vendors don't put out front and center in their displays.
MM: What advice would you give to new designers starting their own business?
CO: The year that I began selling full time was a great retail and I made a lot of money quickly, however, the year after the economy experienced a slump. Even though my sales were not what I wanted them to be, I knew that I had the potential to sell well so I stuck with it and waited until things picked up a bit, but it was rough. My advice would be to really pay attention to what the economy is doing and always have a cushion for the slower months to help you through, especially if you are in a business like accessory design, which relies on people having extra cash.