Last year Crystal H. Whalum (whose family is from Memphis) opened an online jewelry boutique, STONEnyc, which carries designers such as GOOD WOOD, Tarina Tarantino and Melody Eshani. At last month's CGI Fashion Forecast event, Crystal set up shop for the first time in Memphis.
Beale Street Chick: Why did you start STONEnyc?
Crystal Whalum: I was inspired to launch STONEnyc for several reasons. Shortly put, it was a combination of my longtime fascination and collection of jewelry and accessories along with being inspired to truly follow my dreams and step outside the box that had been created for me, and realizing the void of fashion jewelry boutiques in the south.
BSC: What do you look for when selecting a designer to carry?
CW: When looking for a new designer, I first look at the mission of the brand and what they represent. The STONEnyc mission is to provide high quality, uniquely designed, and statement costume and semi precious pieces; maintaining a beautiful treasure chest of jewels and wearable art for women to indulge in.
We hope to inspire women to create their own style, "A style that's uniquely yours" by defining their individual image and not by following the trends and conventional views of society; therefore, we look for designers who align with our goals. Secondly, we look at the uniqueness and design of the collection as well as the handcrafted quality.
BSC: From what areas have your customers come from?
CW: So far, the STONEnyc clientele has come from all over! Memphis, TN, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Washington DC, Dallas TX, Atlanta, GA and even Australia.
BSC: What separates STONEnyc from other online accessory retailers?
CW: STONEnyc differs from other online accessory retailers because most of the designers we carry can't be found in any other boutiques. We also carry lots of exclusive pieces and collections from designers.
BSC: Why carry jewelry? What about it appeals to you?
CW: For many reasons... Jewelry is beautiful. I have been enamored by jewelry since early childhood. I grew up playing in my grandmothers jewelry chest and always found ways to sneak a piece into my look. Jewelry can be the centerpiece or focal point of your entire outfit. Jewelry makes women feel beautiful. Jewelry can be layered, collected, passed down generations, reconstructed, and transition an outfit from day to night.
BSC: What (or who) inspires you?
CW: I am inspired by my Grandmother, Christine Luster: stylish, loving, genuine, businesswoman, mother, friend, survivor. I am also inspired by other strong women who dare to dream and pursue their dreams.
BSC: What type of jewelry and accessories do you wear personally?
CW: My personal jewelry style is very much represented by what you see on STONEnyc. Depending on the day, my style is flamboyant and over the top or simple, sophisticated and chic. I am an avid collector of bold statement pieces though- huge cocktail rings, men's watches and dramatic earrings.
BSC: What are your plans or goals for STONEnyc?
CW: The goals of STONEnyc are to continue to build our relationships with designers and customers, become the household "go-to" for jewelry and accessories, and to have a brick and mortar store that clients can come, enjoy themselves and shop.