The Interview: Thaddeus Du Bois's Handbag Designs Are Full Metal Fashion

Family, faith and fortitude have led Artist, Thaddeus Du Bois on a unique journey that's proved almost as intricate as his über cool couture creations. Du Bois creates bold, eye-catching, statement fashion handbags that are unlike anything you've ever seen before --these bags give one-of-a-kind an entirely new meaning.

Du Bois who started out with a swimming scholarship to the University of Alaska after graduating high school in 1991, with the intent to study Chemical Engineering, opted for a more creative career path of Artist. Before graduating college in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts, the Indiana native was able to travel all over the world to places such as Hawaii and even the Bering Sea. During those years, he found himself doing various jobs. A desire to serve our country led Du Bois to the Navy before an injury sidelined his ambition to become a SEAL which led to a re-assignment aboard a Submarine Tender. Upon leaving the Navy, life's path led to Du Bois working at a pizza joint in Kona, Hawaii (not a bad gig) to then working aboard a dive boat in the Cook Inlet. However,  it was a position at Nordstrom that made him take notice how much women liked handbags. Ultimately, Du Bois was led back to art and a passion struck for creating and designing sculptural handbags. In his spare time he began developing his craft with design and because the bills need to be paid he began to work as a Pharmaceutical Rep, among other jobs here and there. During this time he was able to show his work at a multitude of venues including  the SeaFair Mega Yacht in Sarasota, Florida.

A re-dedication to living for Jesus in 2011 has blessed the designer's life richly and contributes heavily to the influence in his artistry. Today, Du Bois is designing full-time and recently moved to Portsmouth, Rhode Island with his beautiful wife, Kira and their daughter Genevieve, who was born just this past May. This week he will show his collection during Boston Fashion Week. I recently had the honor of speaking with Thaddeus about everything from his favorite design elements to what it was like designing his first handbag.

FWU: How did you know designing handbags was your passion?

Thaddeus Du Bois: I saw sparks when the idea was birthed. A woman named Christine said, “Why don’t you make handbags”. I said,“That’s dumb, those are for girls”. She said, “Look at them as sculptures and it’s really all about the hardware”. At that point I saw handbags in a whole new light and my passion was born.

FWU: Describe the current collection/designs you are creating.

Du Bois: Currently I’m making things that are a little more “mainstream” than my past designs. I’m working on designs that can be produced rather than made 100% Couture so that more people can own and enjoy my work. I still create the one of a kind Couture bags like my latest one, Pastor Travis’ Bible Case which is all hand dyed, hand sewn and hand forged hardware. I plan on keeping everything made in the United States of America even when my handbags are manufactured other than by my own hands.

FWU: Where do you draw inspiration for a piece or a collection and what is your creative process?

Du Bois: This varies widely, but ultimately all my inspiration comes from God. Basically I’m given or set parameters for the design as a base and it grows from there. For example, a client says I have this much money available, I like this color or this leather, I’d like such and such size carried like this and a pocket here and here. From there I like to look at the client’s personality, their lifestyle and design a bag that will compliment them. For bags I design for myself just because I want to I only set the parameters of how much money can I spend on it and how long do I want to spend making it. These pieces lean more heavily towards the art side and always tell a story.

FWU: Are there any Fashion or Accessories Designers style that you admire?

Du Bois: This might sound strange, but there aren’t any. There are aspects of some bags I like and some hardware that I think is pretty cool but ultimately they are all lacking and boring. I don’t want to sound arrogant and elitist but that is why I’m making handbags, because there just aren’t enough cool bags out there. There are handbags I’ve seen and I do love them and they are great designs but if I were to do it, I’d just do it a little differently.

FWU: Describe the first item {handbag or otherwise} you designed.

Du Bois: Ha ha ha, oh boy. I said, “I’ll make a handbag, this is easy”.  I had regular little sewing needles and maybe a two - four ounce suede leather, quilting thread and a thimble. I worked so hard to try to sew that leather, it was all by hand. Then I tried to incorporate the hardware I wanted. I forged out the hardware and tried sewing it to the bag, piercing the bag, gluing it and even welding the metal to the handbag. Picture this, I have metal on both sides of the leather, wet rags soaking the leather and I’m welding the steel to the bag, sparks all over, water dripping. I had no structure to the thing so I tried sewing in some copper wire. Oh wow, it was such a mess! I still have that bag, it makes me laugh to see it.

FWU: What are your favorite elements you like to use in your designs and why?

Du Bois: Metal, hands down I love metal!  Almost any combination of metal and leather I like, especially when the bag makes noise, like the clinking of metal or squeak of leather. Buckles and straps are obviously very cool. Another of my favorites is being versatile. Maybe the bag has a secret pocket, or adjusts or has some other function. I love multifaceted functionality.

FWU: So you are headed to Boston Fashion Week this week. Is this your first fashion week and what are you most looking forward to?

Du Bois: Yes, this is my first fashion week. I’ve shown my handbags in art galleries, and the Couture handbags like “Narcosis” just last year aboard the SeaFair Mega Yacht venue in Sarasota, Florida, but this is the first time they will be on models and going down a runway. I’m very excited!  I’m looking forward to putting on my tuxedo and getting the chance to share that first look on the runway with my wife, daughter, sister and maybe even my parents. I know they will be proud of me, I’ll probably cry.  Obviously looking forward to the orders we will write from the show also.

FWU: Which celebrity would you most like to see carry your handbags/designs on the red carpet. Which TV Show or TV character's could you see your handbags being featured?

Du Bois: The red carpet is exactly where I designed “The Emmy Clutch” (shown below) to be carried. This bag was designed with flash and glitter in mind, so I would love to see anyone walking the red carpet carry this bag.  As far as any other celebrities, I don’t know, Madonna? I’ve always liked her work but to have a celebrity really honestly like my designs and choose to carry one of my bags would be an honor. TV show, well, I don’t have a TV so I know I’m really not versed enough to even give a good answer to that question.


FWU: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Du Bois: I plan on having my own stand alone Thaddeus retail stores some day so keep your eyes open.  I’ll design not only handbags for my store but nearly everything that could be called a home or body accessory. Furniture, plates, flatware, paintings, sculpture, shoes, handbags, sunglasses etc.  I’m excited to see it all come together.

You can purchase items or set up a consultation for your own custom couture bag designed by Thaddeus Du Bois by contacting him here. Be sure to check out his website and follow him on twitter.

~Christy Pastore @christypastore

Image Source: Thaddeus Du Bois

Say Buongiorno (hello) to dalla nonna

Former college roommates Rebecca Richards and Jessica Bohrer are the design duo behind dalla nonna, which means "from the grandmother" in Italian. Richards and Bohrer were inspired by vintage pieces once belonging to their mother's and grandmothers and fell in love with the idea of making something old new again.

dalla nonna's chic and modern jewelry designs have been flashed around by some pretty famous faces including Charlize Theron, Emily VanCamp, Zoe Saldana, Emma Stone and Pretty Little Liars star, Ashley Benson. Their sensational and personal keepsake pieces have even made it to the small screen appearing on Chelsea Lately and Castle.

Recently we had a chance to speak to Rebecca and Jessica, and the pair dished on everything from the importance of giving back to the community, their latest pieces and their plans for New York Fashion Week.

Fashion Wrap Up: Tell us a little bit about the current collection you are creating?

dalla nonna: We actually just introduced our little letters on delicate chain bracelets. We’ve had a great response to our little letters (with celebrity fans including Charlize Theron & Zooey Deschanel), which are in our signature font, and we think customers will love seeing words & phrases like “xo”, “bff”, “love” and “mom” peeking from their sweater sleeves. For fall & winter, we are also focused on incorporating the darker sapphire colors – red, blue, purple & of course black!  While our collections are really wearable year round, we love the pop of the darker tones, and since jewel tones are big for fall, we want to make sure our customers have a new selection of colors to choose from this season. We’re especially loving our black sapphire portafortuna (“good luck charms”) earrings and rings. These pieces are super wearable and make any outfit feel extra special.

FWU: How did you know that jewelry was your passion?

dalla nonna: Who doesn’t feel passionately about jewelry?! Actually, we both are very close to our grandmothers and have very fond memories of playing in their jewelry boxes when we were little (and big!). We adore these women and the special memories we associate with wearing their jewels. So it’s only natural that this passion for family would inspire us to create dalla nonna. We fell in love with the idea of taking a family treasure with a story—a trinket celebrating a special day—and making it new by adding a modern twist.

FWU: Describe the first piece of jewelry you purchased?

dalla nonna:  With a love for jewelry, it’s hard to remember the first piece of jewelry ever purchased. There was the cat ring-bracelet-necklace set that Becca saved her allowance, birthday and holiday money to buy at age 7; the cat was enameled the brightest orange you can imagine. And Jess begged her parents for anything with her birthstone – amethyst, including a heart-shaped amethyst ring in yellow gold – to accompany her arm-full of friendship and beaded bracelets. Although we still have these pieces, which make us smile, we are now saving for timeless pieces that we can pass on to our daughters and granddaughters.

FWU: Where do you draw inspiration for a piece or collection?

dalla nonna: We draw inspiration from everywhere and everything – family, friends, nature, street life, art, runway, etc. Once inspiration strikes, we make sure that we blend new ideas and collections into our existing aesthetic. dalla nonna jewelry is meant to be simple enough to wear every day, but also unique enough to feel special. Personal details give each piece a life and story of its own—from the date you selected for your calendar necklace to the letters you chose for your little letter bracelet. As the line continues to grow, it’s important that all of the new pieces stay true to our chic, custom, vintage-inspired aesthetic.

FWU: Tell us a little bit about this “Calendar Necklace” that is generating so much buzz.

dalla nonna: dalla nonna’s signature piece, the calendar necklace® exemplifies dalla nonna’s blend of tradition and trend.  Derived from an old tie pin of Jess’ Grandpa Howard, each piece is executed in 14k rose or yellow gold, or sterling silver, and accented with a sapphire in a color chosen by the wearer to commemorate a date of her choosing - birthday, birth of a baby, graduation, engagement, anniversary, wedding - the list is endless! With its sleek and modern design, the calendar necklace® is a subtle statement piece that allows the wearer to hold a date that is close to her heart even closer still.

FWU: What are your favorite gemstones?

dalla nonna: Sapphires, of course! We love sapphires because they are one of the only precious stones that come in a rainbow of colors (we use red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple, white & black). We love both the wide range of beautiful colors and the quality.

FWU: Describe what it was like seeing your creations on the red carpet for the first time.

dalla nonna: There is nothing quite like seeing someone wearing something you’ve created, and when that someone is a celebrity it’s exhilarating! Whether it’s a woman on the street or an actress heading into a movie premiere, it’s incredibly gratifying knowing that you’re passion, sweat and tears have paid off. We are touched and honored every time we see someone wearing our pieces…and of course, we phone one another immediately to share our excitement.

FWU: What are your plans for Fashion’s Night Out?

dalla nonna: To survive! Fashion’s Night Out is a super exciting time for the industry & it’s great to see everyone out and on the move soaking in the new trends & fun entertainment. We spent last year taking in the festivities in the Meatpacking District, so this year you’ll probably find us in Soho to mix things up!

FWU: Will you be attending any shows or events during fashion week?

dalla nonna: We love being a part of the NYC fashion world – whether it’s during Fashion Week or any other week of the year – and that’s why we’re based here and why we do most of our manufacturing here as well. It’s hard to match the creativity, diversity and energy NYC has to offer! We’ll be making the rounds to a few shows & events during Fashion Week, and we’ll also be attending Lucky FABB, which we’re super excited about since there are so many wonderful things happening as we grow our social media presence (hard to believe it, but we’re on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram & Polyvore – oh my!).

FWU: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

dalla nonna: We believe in supporting local artisans, all of our pieces are handmade in the USA. Additionally, dalla nonna believes in giving back. In support of promoting breast cancer awareness and prevention efforts, dalla nonna donates 10% of the purchase price of pink bracelets (from any collection, in any metal strung on pink (faux) suede) to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®. dalla nonna also donates 20% of the purchase price of our sterling silver lucky star bracelets strung on turquoise (faux) suede to SOS Children's Villages to support their relief efforts in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Customers can feel good knowing that they’re supporting local businesses as well as worthy causes.

~Christy Pastore @christypastore

Image Source: dalla nonna Facebook

Whitney Coleman's Groove is in Her Heart

In a summer filled with superhero movies and world class athletes going for Olympic gold, it's hard to not become inspired to challenge one's own personal goals. In that spirit, we want to introduce you to Whitney Coleman and tell you a little about what this Southern California native has accomplished and is currently achieving in her life. Besides being one of the nicest people we've ever encountered, Whitney is a scholar, a multi-talented singer/songwriter and former basketball star.

Currently Coleman is working on her Ph.D in Informatics at IUPUI with a concentration in Human Computer Interaction and recording her latest album. How does she balance all of this? That's easy, she has a huge support system including her family, friends and relationship with God.

Whitney says, "I have always enjoyed challenging myself to be the best at everything that I put my mind to. Moreover, even if I’m not the “best”, that passion and faith has helped me achieve many things that I would never think were possible (i.e. modeling, breaking college b-ball records, getting my doctorate)."

All in a days work for this gorgeous 24-year-old who takes nothing for granted. Giving back to her community and working with her local youth group is one of the most important things in her life which attributes to her focus and ability to stay grounded. "Indianapolis has really shown me some amazing things and has really been welcoming and supportive to not just the music but also the academic side." says Coleman.

FWU: Let's talk about your music. When did you first start singing?

Whitney Coleman: I started singing at a young age. In grade school I was always a part of my schools’ talent shows. My father has a musical background so I guess you could say being around him encouraged me to want to get into music.

FWU: Who are your musical inspirations?

Whitney: God, my family, artist like Lauryn Hill, Tina Turner, Fiona Apple, Res, my friends. I mention God because I believe that my talents and all that I do have been a blessing from God. I mention my family because they constantly inspire me to stay true to who I am and where I’ve come from. Plus, everyone in my family loves music of all types and just about everyone can either sing or play an instrument. Growing up, my brother, Greg Jr., and my sister, Kim, really exposed to me to so many genres and artists at a young age.

FWU: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming album and what was the influence behind the album?

Whitney: The upcoming album “Sit this one out” really is exactly that. I chose to take a year off from music, mainly took a break from performing, so that I could get to know myself better…my strengths and weaknesses. I come from a family who encourages maturity and success in both a service/community standpoint as well as a professional one, but spiritual growth being the driving force for both. I guess you could say that the album shows that growth, exploits those weaknesses but highlights how I’ve grown to be stronger.

FWU: When will it be released?

Whitney: Spring of 2013

FWU: How does this differ from previous albums?

Whitney: The only difference is the instrumentation. I’ve chosen to work with a local Indianapolis producer named SoulCinematik (Jason Peate) who basically took my raw piano/vocal tracks and transformed them into something amazing, original, and so fitting for my new approach and outlook on my life and music.
FWU: What embarrassing songs might we find on your iPod?

Whitney: I don’t really have any embarrassing things. If anything, you may find raw unfinished songs that I’ve worked on but have not completed. Pandora has helped with the embarrassing playlist I would say.

FWU: Not even guilty pleasure songs like "Baby, Baby" by Justin Bieber or any One Direction?

Whitney: No, I don't think I have any since I mostly listen to Pandora.
FWU: If you could collaborate with any other artist (singer, duo, songwriter or group) who would it be and why?

Whitney: I’ve always said that I would love to collaborate with an artist named “Res”. Growing up, I remember her style and music and thinking, "Wow, she is so soul and hip hop but so rock." And now when I look back I realize how similar our styles really are. I would love to collaborate with her.
FWU: What was the first album or record that you purchased, and how did it affect your music style?

Whitney: I honestly can’t even remember my very first album I purchased. My brother Greg Jr. and I were so close that usually he would buy the music and I would like it just because he did (i.e. Timberland and Missy Elliot, Tribe Called Quest, Music Soulchild, Erykah Badu, K-OS, Lauryn Hill, Bjork, Beck, Fiona Apple, Portishead). I do remember in probably the 6th or 7th grade buying an Everclear album though. Either way much of the music that I listened to has influenced me one way or the other. More with identity and freedom, to just be me, more than anything.
FWU: Describe your personal fashion/style?

Whitney: A sensitive tomboy. My stylist/sister/friend Erica Mitchell has to remind me to show off the figure sometimes. But, she loves the look as well. I guess I wear whatever fits and typically I do well at finding clothes that fit me, including my personality and hair-styles.
FWU: When you are not performing, how do you spend your free time?

Whitney: I pretty much hang with friends and or manage my “me” time. I really like being outdoors. I’m still a Cali girl at heart so I’m my happiest in the sun. Eating, hiking/bike riding or just lounging at my friend Erica’s house is where most of my down time is spent. The other time is spent studying or writing papers and reading for school. It’s a nice balance. Especially during the summer time.

Whitney's Favorite's

Drink (alcoholic and non): I love sparkling water! I prefer beer over liquor, my favorite would be a Blue Moon with an orange slice.

Movie: I have so many favorites, but I’d have to go with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Favorite restaurant: Working Man’s Friend, Indianapolis, Indiana

Celebrity crush: Lenny Kravitz

Favorite clothing item or accessory in your wardrobe: my brown leather boots (“Wanted”) I bought from Urban Outfitters in California.

Favorite band/singer/group: Cold Play, Mumford and Sons and Lauryn Hill

For more with Whitney and to hear her music, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter @SistaColeman

~Christy Pastore @christypastore


Photography by: Mandykae Blair

Hair and Makeup by: Allure Salon

Fashion Styling by: Erica Mitchell

Passion Takes the Lead Role for Marianna's Designer Jewelry~

Marianna Harutunian's handcrafted jewelry designs have been worn by some pretty famous faces including Lady Gaga, Cher and Nicki Minaj. Harutunian creates bold, eye-catching, unique jewelry pieces ranging from earrings and necklaces, to hair clips and buckles.

Her sensational, look at me now designs have even made it on to the small screen including Lady Gaga's "Judas" video and stylish shows like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and True Blood. Her statement making pieces are crafted with love and passion, whether it's a collection or a custom piece, Harutunian strives for the best and client satisfaction. Marianna recently spoke to Fashion Wrap Up about her design inspirations and latest work to be featured in season 5 of True Blood, which premieres this Sunday, June 10th on HBO.

Fashion Wrap Up: Firstly, thank you, Marianna, for taking the time to tell us a little about your jewelry designs and your stunning pieces that will be featured on True Blood this season.

Marianna Harutunian: Thank you to Fashion Wrap Up, & everyone who is reading and supporting my work! You help to continue to make my dreams come true!

How did you know jewelry was your passion?

I knew jewelry was my purpose in life, when I first saw my mom's embellished beaded slippers. The beading caught my eye more than the footwear itself. Which then led to myself finding my way to a bead store close to my high school graduation. The lady inside was making the most beautiful beaded necklace. Seeing all of that, lit the spark of creativity inside, the calling to design and create jewelry pieces. I've been inspired and passionate about making jewelry ever since.

Tell us a little bit about your creations and how your designs came to be featured on True Blood (and any other shows).

My creations stem from my conscious and subconscious mind. I usually get a vision of an idea for a piece that pops up from my subconscious to my conscious mind first, and then I proceed to bring it to life. I bring it to life with my favorite medium to work with, which is Swarovski Crystals. There is something intrinsically magical about them.

My pieces came to be featured on True Blood, through the costume designer Audrey Fisher. She is a loyal customer of mine, and has been since I opened my store in 1999. When she got the position as the costume designer on True Blood, she came to me to start purchasing pieces for the show. Every season she comes back to purchase more pieces. I might add that Audrey is fundamentally one of the kindest people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

My work has come to be featured on other shows by costume designers I admire, such as Mandi Line whose amazing styling work is seen on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars, and Eric Damian, whose amazing styling work is seen on The CW's Gossip Girl. I really am humbled and appreciate them for allowing my work to be included in their artistic vision for the outfits their characters wear, for each show respectively.

What was it like seeing your jewelry featured on TV for the first time?

The first time I saw my piece on television, in particularly True Blood, I was humbled and thrilled. I love that show, so it was a dream come true. As an artist you are happy to create and express yourself through your given art form. However to see your work commercially, such as on TV, it is one of the most rewarding things imaginable as an artist. To be a working artist doing what you love, is a blessing.

With your jewelry being featured on True Blood, were you asked to create special pieces for any characters?

At first, Audrey would come in to purchase items I already had. Then she would come in to ask for special pieces to be created for the True Blood Verse. I have been asked to create special pieces for the character of Pam, played by Kristin Bauer, the fairies, and the priest in the flashback scenes for Antonia in Season 4. I love to create pieces for the character of "Pam" especially, she is my favorite on the show!

Whose jewelry style do you most admire and why?

Lately I really admire Lady Gaga's jewelry style. I admire her jewelry style, because she wears jewelry and accessories without a care of what fashion deems as trendy. She is fearless, so her jewelry, clothing, and other accessories can create a mood, a statement, a feeling. I love that, and always have tried to include that approach within my work since I started my store back in 1999.

Describe the first piece of jewelry you bought?

I honestly can't remember the first piece of jewelry I bought. I can tell you though, that my first experience in making a beaded necklace was when I found myself in the bead store as a teenager. I put everything I needed and more into my basket to create a piece. I was so entranced that I forgot that those things cost money, of which I didn't have enough for, thankfully the owner let me slide. I went home as quickly as I could to create my first piece in under eight minutes. The urgency to create then is the same that I have now.


You can purchase items from Marianna's True Blood collection and more at her Etsy shop. You can find her on all social media sites including Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook.

~Christy Pastore @christypastore

Image Source: Marianna Harutunian Facebook

Sharon Case Unveils POMP - A Jewelry Collection Filled with Drama

No stranger to drama, Emmy-winning actress Sharon Case, who portrays Sharon Newman, on the hit CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless, recently spoke with Fashion Wrap Up about her new jewelry line POMP. Case created POMP with her best friend, stylist Elif Inanc, and designed the line so that any woman of any age could wear the pieces. The Detroit-born beauty attributes her love of jewelry and fashion as her inspiration for creating the dazzling collection which includes a variety of chandelier earrings, cocktail rings, bracelets and necklaces.

Fashion Wrap Up: Firstly, thank you, Sharon, for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us a little bit about your new jewelry line POMP.

Sharon Case: Christy, thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. I enjoy reading Fashion Wrap Up.         

Tell us a little bit about the current collection you have created.

This season's lineup is a bit different than the last (when we aired on QVC). We've designed a simple, classic look...a little less of the "chunk funky" fashion jewelry. We like to have a bit of both styles in the collection so that we have something for everybody.  

Where did the idea come from to create a jewelry line?

My partner (best friend Elif Inanc) and I came up with the idea for this jewelry line a few years ago. I really love fashion and she is a stylist. We thought it would be fun to be in business together as friends. 

How did you come up with the style focus and name of the line?

We like to keep up with the current trends and we also enjoy all of the classics looks -- our focus is on both. We deliberated over the name of the line for some time. We both came up with several different names, and in the end POMP is what we both agreed on based on the meaning of the word: splendor, drama, grandeur, etc.  

Describe your personal jewelry style and how that influenced your decision to create POMP.

The POMP line reflects my personal style all the way. I like to change up my look: some days I feel like putting on the basics and other days I dress trendier. Whether dressy or casual, I like to have just the right jewelry. I think jewelry is ultimately what makes your look complete and finished, and it shows off your own personal style.

My interest in jewelry definitely influenced my decision to create POMP.


Where do you draw inspiration for a collection or a particular piece?

We focus on variety for the entire collection. We try to include a variety of style, color, size...everything. We find our inspiration for each piece based on the fashion trends, silhouettes and colors of each season.  

Describe the first piece of jewelry you purchased.  Why did you purchase that particular item?

The first piece of jewelry I'd purchased, might have been feather earrings! I remember those being popular years ago along with the feather clip-ins for your hair. Funny, now those are back in style again. I bought them because it was all the rage at the time and because I thought they were beautiful. I've always liked wearing feathers and flowers in my hair. Ha! I remember I also bought several fancy head bands back then too -- though that seemed a little fashion forward for my age, my mother was a good sport!

Whose jewelry style do you most admire and why?

I like so many different designers currently; it's tough to single one out. I really love and am often inspired by the jewelry and overall style of our First Lady, Michelle Obama. 

How did you know that jewelry was a passion for you?

When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me her collection of fashion jewelry and I felt like I'd won the lottery! I loved wearing lots of sparkle. 

Besides QVC will your collection be available in any other stores or retail entities?

POMP is no longer available on QVC because we are now sold out. This year we decided to put POMP on our own website. The site address is

What are your favorite gemstones or pieces from the collection?

I have always loved, loved, loved pearls! I wear pearls all the time...nearly every day. This season we have real freshwater pearls in the collection and I am very happy about that!

As Sharon Newman on Y&R, does your character wear jewels from POMP?

Have to watch the show and see....

We at Fashion Wrap Up know that Sharon does in fact wear her gorgeous jewels on The Young and the Restless, including the sparkling Starfish pendant available for sale on the site now. Please check out and tune into The Young and the Restless to view more gems from this inspiring and beautiful collection. We love this jewelry line and we're sure you will too!

~Christy Patore @christypastore

Image Source: Julie Mitchell, The Young and the Restless, CBS TV

10 Questions with Jewelry Designer Kara Ackerman

'All my collections are very personalized; they are designed specifically with their namesake's personality and style in mind.'

What do celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Emma Roberts and Vanessa Hudgens all have in common?  The answer is they all adore Kara Ackerman Designs! Kara Ackerman attained a degree in gemology and has studied the art and design of jewelry for several years. Influenced by her mom's classic style, her own personal passion and love of jewelry she has made a name for herself and shining design career!

Several celebrities have graced the red carpet with her one of a kind and artistic jewelry designs that include platinum, sterling silver and vermeil. Kara's custom pieces, ranging from her cuffs, rings and necklaces, have been featured in several fashion and celebrity publications including Glamour, InStyle and People. The jewelry designer has three collections Kara Ackerman, GemGirls and KSA-Designs for Men all featuring pieces inspired and influenced by her daily life and family experiences.


Tell us a little bit about the current collection you are creating.  

I have started a boutique line called “Lilly&Me” which encompasses ready-to-wear jewelry for all ages in a lower price point. It's mostly made in vermeil and sterling silver.

  How did you know jewelry was your passion? 

It was very obvious to me. There is a picture of me from when I was 3 receiving my first piece of jewelry: a gold heart locket I still have and cherish. I was always fascinated by how Jewelry was made and how it could accessorize clothing or just be a stand alone piece based on it’s own aesthetic qualities.

Describe the first piece of jewelry you bought.

I was 16, my mom and I went to a local thrift store and I found a 14k white gold, 5.00ct emerald cut, sapphire and diamond art deco ring. I paid $350 for it and I still have it. I have used it as inspiration for my Lauren Cocktail Ring Collection

Where do you draw inspiration for a piece or collection?  

The simplest inspiration comes from my day to day life and my travel experiences. All my collections are very personalized; they are designed specifically with their namesake's personality and style in mind. My mother Judie and sister Brooke were the ones who encouraged me to follow my dreams and passion for being an entrepreneur through my talent as a jewelry designer. 

Describe the first piece of jewelry you designed?   

It was a Kunizite pear shaped, hanging pendant necklace with a diamond rondell chain.

Who was your first celebrity client and what piece did they wear?

Olivia Wilde wearing my Fan Earrings in yellow gold and white Topaz .

Describe what was it like seeing your jewelry creations on the red carpet for the first time.

Once I got over the excitement, sheer validation as a designer

What are your favorite gemstones?

Tourmalines because of the variety of colors and cuts. Plus, I love the folklore and healing properties.

How much jewelry (number of necklaces, cuffs, rings etc) do you wear on any given day?

At least three necklaces, layered rings on a minimum of four fingers, and both arms are properly filled with bracelets.

From my head to my toes, I’m always decked in K.A, except on the beach. I wear my evil eye friendship bracelets in different colors and my wedding band.

Whose jewelry style do you most admire and why?

I loved Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewelry Collection because it was so vast from her ping pong ring to the Krupp diamond. As far as style goes, my own!


~By Christy Pastore 

photo credit: Kara Ackerman

The Interview: Fashion Model and Actress Marissa Hopson

FWU:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Marissa:  My name is Marissa Leeann Hopson. I've actually been a dancer/singer my whole entire life and I've literally fell in modeling, hosting, and acting. It's crazy how the entertainment business can be. You strive to do one thing, and you end up doing something totally different. Never saw myself as a model but it's been a blast.

FWU:  You are Pantene's First Reality Hair Star Congratulations!  What was the competition like?

Marissa:  Aww thanks. OMG, fierce!  So many girls with amazing hair and I never thought I had it in the bag. It was one of the most intense auditions/call back I've ever been to. It started off as a casting video, then the top 12 girls has to audition and be interview in New York which was a blast, but very nerve-racking. When you're surrounded by so many beautiful girls with amazing hair, you can't help but think, "I might not get this." Happy Pantene chose me, such an honor to represent a brand I love so much!


FWU: How did you find out that you won?

Marissa:  Stacy London told me! She's a brand ambassador, and she literally came to my house and told me on live TV. It was insane, but so much fun!

FWU: What are you responsibilities for being the Pantene Reality Star?

Marissa:  Represent the brand to the fullest! I've had to attend events, photo-shoots, filming's. It's been a blast. It doesn't even feel like work when you love a brand so much. I've used Pantene since I was a child! Honest!

FWU: How has celebrity changed your life?

Marissa:  My life hasn't changed too much, I'm still me and I thank God every day for all the blessings he's given me this year. I mean people notice me, and I get to attend a lot of really cool events but I'm just thankful overall. I have met a lot of really interesting people in the business, and I'm just looking forward to the next phase of my career. I consider everything a stepping stone and don't take anything for granted.

FWU:  What are your favorite Pantene Products?

Marissa:  Definitely the Medium-Thick collection, it works perfectly with my hair. I use it every day. I'm addicted to the Straighten and Smooth creme. I do live in FL, and it makes my hair frizz free! The Anti-Humidity hair spray is also heaven in a can. Pretty much makes your frizz disappear. I also love the Beautiful Lengths collection. My cousin did pass away from Breast Cancer, and to see a brand take a stand and help those with the disease is amazing.

FWU:  How do you spend your free time?

Marissa:  Ha! I'm boring, I'm such a homebody. I love movies and take out. Getting dressed up to go to dinner is also fun too. I'm not the type to party or go clubbing. Not my style, I'm pretty low key. I love sports! I can sit there and watch sports forever!

FWU:  Who has inspired you throughout your life?

Marissa:  Audrey Hepburn! She personifies the definition of beauty inside and out for me. She was such a beautiful person who also has this amazing, and astonishing career. It's always nice to see good people make it especially in the entertainment industry. You always see beautiful people that have ugly souls, but a beautiful person with a beautiful soul is rare. That was Audrey Hepburn.

FWU: Who are your style icons?

Marissa:  I consider my fashion style Classy, Sexy. I love getting dressed up from head to toe. So I really love the style of Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie O. I also love the whole edgy look too, Fergie rocks it so well.

FWU: Do you have any favorite fashion designers?

Marissa:  Yes but I love different fashion designers for different things. For clothes, I think Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen kill it. They are just on a whole different league than anyone else when it comes to clothes. For shoes, I'm in love with Christian Louboutin. Those red soles mixed with a gorgeous heel scream beautiful. Lastly, for purses I have to go with Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton is classic, but oh so timeless.

FWU:  What is the one piece of advice you can give to an aspiring Actress or Model?

Marissa:  Never give up! For every person that wants to help you or support you, there is one right behind them that wants to take you down. Have an inner circle, and consider everyone else an acquaintance. Work hard, be kind/positive and God will lead you in the right direction.

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