Millennial brides are besotted with Stone Fox Bride creative director Molly Guy’s laid-back style, ultrapersonalized service, and storytelling savvy
The shrillness of a ringing phone disrupts the serenity of a quiet November morning in the Stone Fox Bride showroom in New York City. Creative director Molly Guy glances in its direction. “This is the guy that calls me five times a day because he wants to propose with a sapphire ring that we’re making,” she explains.
The tone of her voice makes clear that the client requires an excessive amount of handholding. But Guy takes his neediness in stride. After three years in the bridal business, she knows all too well the stages of panic and confusion that most men pass through on their journey to the altar.
“Generally, they want some sort of arbiter, some sort of liaison between their weird vision of what their girlfriend wants and the actual ring—whatever that vision is,” Guy says. “I work with them to make it happen. I’ll say, ‘I’ll call your girlfriend’s best friend, I’ll scour through her email, I’ll tell you how to go through her jewelry box when she’s sleeping. I’ll make sure we know exactly what she wants.’?”
Guy, if it isn’t apparent, is a jewelry retailer—albeit an unorthodox one. In spring 2012, when she was 35, she opened the 1,200-square-foot Stone Fox Bride showroom in a loft in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood. Guy had the idea for the business shortly after her wedding in 2010, when she went dress shopping and found, according to the “About” section of her website, “lots of puff, fluff, and blue-haired old ladies trying to sell massive princess gowns in stuffy salons filled with bad perfume and claustrophobic wallpaper.”
Dress selection wasn’t the only thing Guy, who hails from Chicago’s Lincoln Park, was disenchanted with. Professionally, she was at loose ends. She’d moved to New York City after graduating from Brown University in 2000 to pursue a career in publishing. In her 20s, she wrote for a clutch of teen and lifestyle magazines (Black Book, Nylon, YM) before enrolling in the MFA program at The New School, where she began writing a novel that eventually sold to a publisher.
“After I did a bunch of edits on the book, I didn’t like the way it had come out, so I dissolved my book contract, which was painful,” Guy says.
At the time, she was working for Estée Lauder and in a relationship with a fellow writer, Mike Guy. Shortly after she backed out of the book contract, he popped the question.
“When I told my coworkers, the first thing they did was grab my hand, but I wasn’t wearing a ring because my husband proposed without one—and they were so crestfallen,” she recalls. “Everyone wants a story. We’re like cavewomen—we want the story.”
Unbeknownst to Guy, she was on the verge of a new chapter in her own life story. “I went and designed a ring in the Diamond District,” she says. Her raw diamond ring was so coveted by friends and acquaintances that she began making it for other people: “That was when I launched Stone Fox Bride. I launched with a few dresses and that ring, basically.”
In May 2012, a few months after opening the showroom, Guy gave birth to her daughter, Sunny. While nursing her at their home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, she alleviated her nighttime boredom by posting pictures she liked from around the Web to Instagram, using her one free hand.
Stone Fox Bride sells dresses, veils, crowns, flowers, and jewels to brides united by an abiding love for fairy tales and a healthy distaste for tradition.
“One day we had 200 followers and then I posted a picture of my friend Pamela, a jewelry designer, and she reposted it, and I woke up and we had 400 followers,” she recalls. “After that, I was like, ‘Oh, I kind of get how this works.’?”
What Guy couldn’t foresee was that within three years, Stone Fox Bride would become a cult destination for millennial brides seeking to emulate her bohemian-with-a-punk-rock-twist sensibility—or that her business would garner so much buzz, stoked by fawning editorials in The New York Times and on popular fashion sites like The Coveteur, that it would earn her Instagram feed nearly 100,000 followers (and counting). She was even persuaded to write another book—a photo-rich “bible for all things bridal,” she says—that Random House is publishing in early 2016.
Is Guy surprised by the turn of events? “It’s beyond anything I ever could have imagined,” she admits. “I have no background in design, I have no background in fashion, I have no background in jewelry.”
Yet she has something that means more to millennial brides than all those conventional markers of expertise: “Doing the MFA program at The New School seemed so decadent and useless…but I can see now that I learned how to tell stories,” she says.
In her unofficial role as Stone Fox Bride’s chief storyteller, Guy coaxes her clients to share anecdotes about how their partners proposed along with snapshots of their engagement rings, which she reposts to her loyal community of Instagram followers. These “relfie” (ring + selfie) stories go something like this:
“After dating almost two years long distance, he proposed on the 50-yard line in the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium after the Eagles beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27.” The caption, which included the hashtag #stonefoxrings, accompanied an image of a woman’s ring finger with a round diamond solitaire on an eternity band.
Stone Fox Jewels
Not all of the rings are SFB originals. Guy works with a handful of trusted designers—including Anna Sheffield, Kathryn Bentley, and Vale Jewelry—to source offbeat engagement rings; she designs rings, featuring mostly bezel-set raw and sliced gems, to order; and she works with vintage dealers in the Diamond District to find period pieces that fit the bill.
“It’s under the radar,” she says of the showroom’s jewelry business. “I’ve been doing it for two years. It’s $500 down up front. That will ultimately go to the purchase of your ring, and that includes unlimited phone calls and emails and texts.”
While some clients—like the sapphire ring guy who calls five times a day—take the “unlimited” offer literally, Guy isn’t complaining. Despite the tech-obsessed era in which her business was born, she sees a connection between the services she provides and the traditional way jewelry used to be bought and sold.
“Sometimes I think of it as the shtetl,” Guy says, offering an anecdote by way of explanation: “When I turned 30, my dad wanted to buy me diamond earrings. He said to me, ‘We’ll go see my diamond friend, Alan Gottlieb, in Chicago.’ He and my dad went to summer camp together.”
She pauses to find the right words to describe what her dad’s “diamond friend” and Stone Fox Bride have in common. “A person that you trust, that’s connected to good resources,” Guy concludes. “It’s that kind of Old World word-of-mouth model that’s beyond social media, beyond the press, beyond the promotion.”
Photographs by Tom Corbett