Emily Reece and Katelyn Blaire are not just friends, but designers and owners of the modern jewelry line Reece Blaire. After recently winning the Belk Southern Designer Showcase competition, I got a chance to chat with them about how they met and then started Reece Blaire plus chat about personal style.
Alea: So tell me how the two of you meet and decide to start a jewelry line?
Kate: Emily and I were introduced back in 2008 at a John Mayer concert by a mutual friend. We instantly hit it off and knew we had a very special friendship in the works. During our college years, we pledged the same sorority — Zeta Tau Alpha– at Winthrop University (ZLAM!). We also lived together and worked at the same clothing boutique, Page 6. From the earliest point in our friendship we shared the same love for fashion, but never discussed the idea of starting a business together. It wasn’t until we both had graduated college that Reece Blaire was born. In the summer of 2013, I sent a text message to Emily that said, “Hey, let’s start a lifestyle blog and call it Reece & Blaire.” Before we knew it, we had a blog and a few hundred followers. Now lets rewind back to 2011, when Emily got married in Georgetown, South Carolina. When picking out jewelry for herself and her bridesmaids, she couldn’t find any pieces that fit her “vision.” Being the determined individual she is, she went out and bought tools to make her own jewelry. Fast forward to 2013 to one of our blog photo shoots. Emily and I stumbled upon some of the old jewelry she had made for her wedding, and decided to debut it on our blog to get some feedback. There was an instant demand for it, so we sold our pieces to a few boutiques, and the chaos never stopped. We love it!
Alea: I love the name of the line! I know it’s both of your middle names. How did you finally land on a name for the line and were there any other names thrown around before your final decision?
Kate: Reece Blaire was ironically decided upon over a text message. I [Katelyn] had done a lot of thinking about starting a solo fashion blog and had come up with a few blog names and ideas. I was never completely sold on any of my solo ideas, so I figured, why not start a dual blog with my bestie! I sent a quick text over to Emily on a random week night to toss around the idea of a lifestyle blog and the name. We are both pretty spontaneous (and hard-willed) individuals, so once we decided we were going to go for it, we took the blog and ran with it. In a period of a week, we had already created a blog, logo, an email address, and all social media accounts. It was a very quick process. The name of our blog was initially Reece & Blaire, but when we decided to transform from a blog to a jewelry business, we took out the &, and simplified our business name to Reece Blaire.
Alea: You guys established your brand three years ago, what has been the most interesting part of watching your brand grow?
Kate: One of the most rewarding parts of watching Reece Blaire grow is watching the evolution of our individual pieces into collections. When we first began, we did not have a clear voice or aesthetic. We actually giggle at some of our first pieces, because they are just not “us.” Reece Blaire happened in such a whirlwind of events, that we never really had time to sit down and plan for the future when we first got started. We literally were taking things hour by hour. Now that things have settled down, our pieces really represent who we are as young women and as a business. When we took some time to rebrand our image in 2012, that’s when I feel like our brand found the cohesion we were initially missing.
Alea: You just won the Belk Southern Designer Showcase. Congratulations! What was that process like and were you surprised you won?
Kate: We are still on cloud nine about the Belk Southern Designer Showcase! We had heard about the Showcase through southern designer and entrepreneur, Annabelle LaRoque. She actually made a custom wedding dress for Emily in 2011. This past Christmas season, Emily and I noticed that Belk was having its second Southern Designer Showcase, so we knew we had to apply for this AMAZING opportunity. We were as one of 19 finalist out of a pool of over 300 applicants. The finalists had to prepare a 20 minute presentation for a handful of Belk buyers and executive members. (Just imagine a retail version of the show Shark Tank). We prepared for months and were extremely confident in our brand and product. We knew that our brand really fit cohesively with the current Belk product line, so we were very hopeful that we would win. Regardless of the confidence in our brand and collection, we were shocked when we were announced as one of the five winners! Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real! We both agree that the Belk SDS memories have been some of the best in our lives. Better yet, we get to share these amazing memories together.
Alea: I love the modern look of your pieces. Can each of your tell me your favorite new designs? I am sure It will be hard to choose!
Kate: Each time Emily and I get our samples in for our new collections, we have new favorites. It’s nearly impossible to choose. Seeing our new designs as finished products is definitely one of our favorite parts of the business.
Kate’s picks: Out of the two of us, I have more of an edgy style, so I am partial to like some of the statement pieces. We have an awesome pair of tassel earrings, that I think will be a hit this fall. I love wearing an all black outfit with some black riding boots, so I think these earrings will be so chic with solid black! I also love our Bowman statement ring in turquoise. While it’s a really bold ring, I feel like you can pair it with almost any outfit!
Emily’s picks: My style is generally more traditional and clean cut. I love to let my Reece Blaire be the center of my outfits! On an average day, I will be wearing 4-5 of our bracelets, stacked, with a pair of simple earrings. My favorite new piece is a pair of pink opal and moonstone earrings inspired by a vintage Chanel brooch. They are absolutely stunning!! I also love one of our new bangles which is stamped with our signature quatrefoil.
Alea: How does your personal style influence your designs?
Kate: I think the key behind Reece Blaire is the mix of our individual styles. Since our college days, we have both excelled at styling an outfit. I think that our ability to style something in multiple ways has been hugely successful in our brand. While we have a lot of the same clothing articles in our closets, we both style them differently. I [Kate] will go a little bolder and modern, while Em stays classic and timeless. The mix of these qualities makes Reece Blaire the brand it is. Sometimes, I will design a piece, and it will have too many different elements to be cohesive with our collection. Emily is great about reeling in my ideas and making them fit with our style and our aesthetic. Contrarily, I like to push Emily’s ideas and help her put a modern twist on a classic design. We truly work as each others counterpart.
Alea: Finally, what is next on the horizon for Reece Blaire?
Kate: We try to just take our business day by day. The most important thing about our business is the friendship behind Reece Blaire. Some days, we let the business and stresses get the best of us, so it’s important to take some time just to be Emily and Kate. Our main focus today (which could be very different tomorrow, lol) is ordering our final round of samples for Belk. In addition, we are in the works of our Fall 2015 line. We are so excited to see where the future takes us both in our personal lives and our business lives!