If you happened to open up the Fall/Winter 2016 catalog for the high-end ski apparel and lifestyle brand Gorsuch, you’d be greeted by spectacular images of beautiful models sporting tony ski gear in some impossibly beautiful alpine setting, or lounging fireside in layers of Mongolian cashmere and the world’s chicest fur boots. Marquee designer names would leap out at you—Brunello Cucinelli, Etro, Bogner—as you flipped through the spreads, but on page six, there’d be a name you perhaps didn’t recognize: StevieWren, an emerging mother-daughter jewelry design duo based in Chicago that launched in 2015.
Exactly how did codesigners Karen and Stevie Mardjetko manage to get their diamond-studded Ramona Stag and Louisa Stag pendants in front of Gorsuch’s upscale, jet-setting clientele? It’s an opportunity most newbie designers would kill for, and quite the coup, considering that Gorsuch is best known for its luxury sportswear and après-ski apparel, not its jewelry offerings (at least not on the level of, say, the Sundance catalog, purveyor of all things rustic-chic, which has even been known to give its jewelry wares pride of place on its covers). But the Gorsuch x Stevie Wren collaboration was a natural fit from the start—and came about naturally—though smarts and timing inevitably played a role.
Ramona Stag necklace in sterling silver with diamonds and a black South Sea pearl drop, $1,865
Here’s essentially how it went down. The Mardjetko family has been vacationing in Park City, Utah, for more than 20 years. “It’s our home away from home,” says Karen. In 2015, Gorsuch opened a store location on the town’s Main Street (the retailer also has a flagship in Vail, Colo., and brick-and-mortar presences in some of the state’s other ski resort towns, including Aspen, Beaver Creek, and Keystone). Karen attended the grand opening celebration in the hopes of networking with the Gorsuch team. Deciding to wear the design pictured above turned out to be a stroke of accessorizing genius. As Karen explains, “[Gorsuch cofounder] Renie Gorsuch noticed my diamond necklace, and that’s what brought our two brands together.”
Louisa Stag necklace in sterling silver with pavé diamonds and rubies, $1,210
Gorsuch’s initial order was for the Ramona and Louisa necklaces, which appeared in the catalog as well as select stores; both are also currently available on Gorsuch’s e-comm site. “I think the designs speak beautifully to the old-world, luxe design aesthetic that Gorsuch is famous for,” says Karen. “And overall, the customer response has been exceptional.”
Successful holiday trunk shows at the Vail, Beaver Creek, and Park City locations further helped StevieWren increase its exposure—and access—to a qualified, sophisticated audience. “We also did a trunk show in the Park City store during [the] Sundance [Film Festival], and it was a fabulous time,” says Stevie. “It’s a true collaboration—both of our media teams worked together to create excitement and enthusiasm for our collection, and to drive traffic to the store events. Our goal is always to work hand in hand with our retail partners so it benefits both of us. We increased our social media following as a result of the collaboration but also introduced our existing followers, from millennials to baby boomers, to one of the finest luxury ski retail stores in the country.”
As StevieWren matures as a brand, one of its goals is for retailers to see it not just as a wholesale account but as an integrated part of the team. “Designing and curating our collection to meet a retailer’s specific needs is one of our foundations and greatest aspirations,” adds Karen. “We want to grow with our partners to create a stunning collection for their stores, integrating with their staff, complementing and coordinating media strategies, and more. We look forward to growing our relationship with the Gorsuch family to create designs that fit beautifully with their customer base and existing luxury ski and home collections.”