Jewelry may be a woman’s best friend, but better than bright baubles alone are pieces that truly tell a story. Eleanor Stone NYC, created and operated by two moms in Greenwich, Nancy Parmet Cook and Jolie Fries Singer, is a luxury accessories brand that specializes in making handcrafted cuffs constructed from the finest Italian leather and featuring one-of-a-kind gems, antique brooches, cameos, and other vintage finds.
Named after Cook’s grandmother, Eleanor Stone NYC is dedicated to making accessories that present stories of family, history, and heritage. In the brand’s Bespoke Collection, the designers even incorporate a customer’s own family heirlooms into a personalized cuff. Recently, the dynamic duo opened up to Quest about their decision to break into fashion and the philosophy behind the brand.
What inspired you to create the brand?
Nancy: I’ve always been fascinated by family history. My grandmother, Eleanor, was an avid antique jewelry collector, so my exposure to jewelry came at a very young age. I used to spend hours listening to her explain the history of all the different beautiful, sparkly pieces in her collection. After a long career in the television business, I took a hiatus from work, got married and had 3 children. As the kids got older (now 11, 13, and 15), I found myself looking for a creative outlet. A couple of years ago I started taking jewelry classes, playing around with leather and heirlooms. My friends loved them and that was the beginning of Eleanor Stone NYC.
What made you choose to work with leather and stones?
Jolie: I love textures and have always loved mixing them—in my childhood arts and crafts projects, in my home decor, and always in my everyday fashion choices. That’s why I was immediately wowed by the whole concept of Eleanor Stone NYC, mixing two very unique textures to combine modern-chic with Old World elegance. As I see it, leather is the essence of cool. The thickness and design of the leather cuff exude an edginess while the antique jewels evoke a sophisticated, refined glamour. I love working with both together because the creative possibilities are endless and the result is always unique.
How do you balance family and career?
Nancy: Balance has not been easy. I have three children and I am a very involved hands-on mom, so it’s truly a juggle. My saving grace has been having Jolie join me in this adventure. We are able to seamlessly work together, and intuitively know when we need to pick up and help the other, which makes the family balance thing a whole lot easier. My husband Jim has been my biggest fan and supporter from the beginning, which helps tremendously. He’s a finance guy and I’m a creative type, so I rely on him often for business and strategic advice. Doing what I love with my long-time best friend and having so much fun, I truly feel like I have the dream job. It’s a total win-win. What’s it like to work with your best friend?
Jolie: I feel so blessed to be able to work every day doing something I absolutely love. And being able to work alongside Nancy—my best friend forever—is truly extraordinary! The funny thing is that nothing seems to have changed since our days at sleepaway camp or our years rooming together at Cornell. We are so alike, always energetic and very driven; yet our differences—I’m more of the idealist while Nancy is the realist—complement one another in a way that I think absolutely enhances our designs and our brand. What’s amazing is that no matter how much time we spend together, whether shopping the market, creating new designs, strategizing on social media, or doing inventory and accounting, it just never feels like work. After a fulfilling career in healthcare management, I never thought I’d end up working in fashion and design (forever my secret passion). But, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get to do it with my best friend!
What’s your favorite ESNYC piece?
Jolie: I’ve been a single mom to my daughter Jillian, who’s now in college. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together as a mother/daughter team. I also have always loved butterflies and their symbolism about growth, change, and new beginnings in life. No surprise then that my favorite piece is “Coolest Mom Ever,” an early 1900’s Art Deco Grecian revival brooch that features a Greek goddess with Cupid and is set in sterling silver with a butterfly wing backing.
Nancy: Choosing a favorite piece is so hard. We spend so much time curating and getting to know each one that they all feel like our babies. And sometimes when a piece sells, I’m bummed, knowing it’s one-of-a-kind, and gone forever. Right now, I’m loving “Happy Go Lucky”—a 1950’s vintage 14-Kt gold four leaf clover charm with a diamond center. My mother has a fabulous charm bracelet from that period, filled with charms, each one representing a part of her life. It was so fascinating to me as a child to play with them, to open the piano lid and to dial the telephone; this piece brings me back the best memories. And, who doesn’t need a little more luck on their wrist?