Delphine Pontvieux interviewed by Franco American Chamber of Commerce (September 2014 issue)
MEET MISS NYET, ONE OF OUR FRENCH INNOVATION WEEK MARCHE VENDOR
MEET MISS NYET, ONE OF OUR FRENCH INNOVATION WEEK MARCHE VENDOR
About Miss Nyet:
Miss Nyet is the company that encompasses my artistic work, from writing (I have published a political thriller titled "ETA: Estimated Time of Arrest," along with short stories in various anthologies. I also am in the process of writing the sequel to my first novel) to designing and hand-making original jewelry here in Chicago.
Why Miss Nyet?
In the beginning, Miss Nyet was founded as a book publishing company. It was the summer of 2009 and, in order to register my company, I needed to find a name for it, which is no small task because it is the crucial step that will forever define my brand. Thus, it cannot be chosen lightly. The problem was, out of all the names that I liked, 100% of them had already been taken/trademarked in one form or another. I was starting to lose courage, when I thought of my grand father and the nickname he gave me when I was a child: Miss Nyet. "Nyet" is the Russian word for "no," a word many toddlers love to repeat as soon as they learn to talk.
I thought that 'Miss No' would be a fitting name for my company, given that publishing companies tend to reject about 99% of the submissions they receive. I checked online to see whether the name had been taken, and it was free. This is how Miss Nyet first came to the world.
When I started the jewelry division, I decided to keep the same name as well as the mermaid logo, though one says 'publishing' and the other, 'jewelry,' for it seems to be a brand name that sticks in people's heads. Besides, who doesn't love a pretty mermaid? I get a lot of compliments about my company's logo.
Where does my inspiration come from?
When I started making jewelry, it was not with the intention of turning it into a business. I just got done writing and publishing a novel, and I think my brain just needed a break, while my hands wanted to do something other than typing on a keyboard for a change. Because I was spending a lot of time in the water, I wanted to design a piece of jewelry that I would not have to remove when immersed in salt water, or in a chlorinated pool. That was how the anchor bracelet was born. Made of weaved parachute cord, with a marine grade stainless steel anchor shackle for a clasp, it was the perfect accessory, colorful, original and sporty, for the holidays. Before long, fellow water sports enthusiasts were asking me to make some for them and their friends: that was how Miss Nyet Jewelry began.
Then I was approached by a Chicago Boutique to sell them at their store. When they asked me what I had in mind for a Fall collection, something clicked in my head. That was it, I had to broaden my horizons and think of designing a full collection!
I have always loved the texture and luxuriousness of leather, so that's the medium I chose to work with. I also took metal smithing classes to learn how to make jewelry. With every year that passes, I strive to improve and hone my skills, which is a challenge I love taking.
As far as inspiration goes, I love to make jewelry out of things that are not meant to be used in traditional jewelry-making. Instead of stones, I love to use old coins and unusual pieces of hardware. The reason why I got into designing an equestrian line, for example, stems from this very reason: I love the look of horse bits, shackles, rivets on leather, etc. Turns out I am very glad I created this collection, because I was commissioned to design a piece of jewelry for the professional polo players at the Beach Polo World Cup in 2013 and 2014, after the organizing committee got to see my work. This amazing opportunity definitely helped putting my budding company on the map.
For this Fall/Winter collection, I am working on a series of round leather chokers with dangling stainless steel chains, as well as stainless and leather bracelets for men. Of course, I am still continuing the models from past collections, which amount to a total of over 130 different creations, many of them meant for both men and women to wear.
How was your experience at the French Market during the French Innovation Week ?
The French Market was a very different approach to what I experienced before, in terms of exposing my work to the public. First of all, the show lasted for an entire week, when I am more used to both retail and private trunk shows, as well as weekend art expos. Also, the location was very original, at the Ogilvy train Station. If I was skeptical at first about how it would turn out, the show was a success for me. Once I got used to the foot traffic pattern, which corresponds to rush hour, meaning early in the morning, during lunch time and at the end of the work day, I became very appreciative of both the location and my customers. As we all know, a train station is a place where you will encounter people from all walks of life: they are construction workers, lawyers, nurses, teenagers, and everything in between. They all have one thing in common: they are rushing to catch their train to get home in the suburbs, or go to work, depending on the time of the day. Because they are commuting, their daily schedule does not allow them to do much shopping during the work week. Yet, by bringing the shopping to them, right there in the terminal, I found out they showed a lot of appreciation and interest for our work. And because their time is counted in minutes, they also turn out to be very decisive buyers, which is always a plus when it comes to the ABC (Always Be Closing!)
Another thing I loved was to see the people who bought a piece of jewelry on, say, Tuesday, make a point of saying Hi! to me for the remainder of the week as they rushed past my booth, all the while proudly pointing at their bracelet or necklace, saying: "I love it! Got so many compliments, thank you!"
This show of genuine appreciation really made my day. A lot of my customers came back later on to buy more pieces for a coworker or a friend, because they loved what they were wearing and wanted one for themselves.
Aside from the sales aspect, I got to make friends with my fellow exhibitors and FACC members in our downtime, which was a great opportunity to network and get the chance to speak French!
I am definitely looking forward to being a vendor next year again, and, I hope, to see more of the French community to be a part of this great initiative!
Miss Nyet events, trunk shows and online sales get added on a regular basis, so I encourage everyone to subscribe to my monthly newsletter and/or to follow me on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the corresponding widgets on my main page .
Thank you very much for your interest, and for giving me the opportunity to present my work to our fabulous and resourceful network,