Studio Stalker: Inside Erica Weiner's Crafty-Cool LES Work Space

Maybe it's because she got in on the vintage craze at precisely the right moment. Maybe it's because every Erica Weiner piece is handcrafted and locally made. Or maybe it's just because her jewels are downright fierce. Whatever the reason, the fact is that NYC girls obsess over Erica Weiner…and we're no exception.
So, when Erica invited us to her Lower East Side work space for a little meet and greet, we couldn't have been more pumped. Visions of a magical treehouse-esque workshop with endless bins of vintage curios and sparkly eyed jewelry makers were dancing in our heads, as we walked the seven blocks from our offices to her studio…and we're happy to say that what we found actually wasn't much different (okay — minus the treehouse).
Read on to get the full tour of Erica Weiner's inspired space and meet the designer who's just as charming as her cult-followed jewels…and that's pretty-darn charming.
Psst...Love Erica Weiner jewels and can't wait to shop 'em? Snag an R29 ticket and save half off!
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Tell us a little bit about your jewelry. Is it all vintage?
"We essentially have three separate lines of jewelry. The first is the collection we started with — everything is under $200 and is made almost completely with vintage and reclaimed findings, like midcentury brass and wood. Then we have real antique jewelry pieces, which are one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that we source. The last is our fine jewelry line, 1909, which is all brand-new jewelry, but the designs are based on antique styles. We sometimes use antique stones with those pieces, but everything else is new."

Vintage jacket, Edith A. Miller dress.
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When did you start making jewelry?
"I started making jewelry in 2005, and the first thing I made were these skeleton-key necklaces. It felt so groundbreaking because no one else was really doing that. I was working in fashion at the time, and I remember the designer I was working with asked me to gift her models my skeleton-key necklaces since they were working a runway show for free. The girls loved them!"
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Why did you choose vintage?
"Well, being a costumer, I was used to working with antique pieces and sources. Even if I was recreating a vintage-inspired piece, I always incorporated something that was authentic from the era I was designing for — just for the joojoo! I feel the same way about jewelry. Plus, vintage reclaimed parts were much less expensive, and I was broke!"
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Weiner's well-dressed wrist and digits: a mixture of antique, Erica Weiner, and Erin Considine jewels and American Apparel nail polish.
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This building is home to so many creative brands — is that what influenced you to move your space here?
"I loved this building as soon as I saw it. I had some friends that were doing post-production here, and I loved their studio — like, I coveted it, so I didn't even look at any other buildings. John Derian is here, and P.S. I made this is right across the hall; it's very cool."
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Are you allowed to tell us where you find all of your amazing vintage charms or is it top secret?
"In the beginning, I got everything from a store in Midtown called Metalliferous. I think they sell mostly new stuff now, but they had a great stock of vintage charms and findings when I started in 2005. Then, I started really doing my homework on where I could get these things straight from the source, so that's who I work with now. I can't give away specifics, but they're like these huge depots and warehouses, many of which are in Providence, Rhode Island, but there's one I work with that's actually in Manhattan. I had to buy a car, so I could make all of the hauls! We buy these huge spools of chains and bins of findings, all of which is super-dusty and some of which actually turns out to be corroded. But it's really fun — you never know what you're going to find."
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Weiner's team stores many of the brand's jewels in an old card catalog.
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Small but mighty, the in-house photo studio makes it easy to shoot new items on the fly.
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Is this your inspiration board? Tell us about it.
"Well, I don't really use inspiration boards. My real inspiration board is my crazy brain, so this functions more as a space for me to map out my designs. I like to try out different iterations and versions of jewelry here…with sketches, photo copies, and samples. It's much more production-oriented — definitely not as pretty as other people's inspiration boards!"

Vintage jacket, Gant men's button-down, Mara Hoffman skirt.
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Various samples, photo copies, and printouts Erica uses for design reference.
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What's a typical day like for you?
"I can be doing anything from working in one of our stores to doing an interview like this to traveling and picking up huge vintage hauls to doing payroll. Crazily enough, I'm sort of like the CFO. I have a book called 101 Things I Learned In Business School — I use it all the time!"
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How would you describe the vibe of the office?
There are usually about four or five of us in the office at a time. We also have a couple of interns and a photographer, so people sort of come and go. We're constantly listening to podcasts. We're big fans of Savage Love, and there's this one called Uhh Yeah Dude — there were like 400 episodes. We listened to them all."
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Weiner wears an Erin Considine pendant and Olyomi necklace.
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A well-loved and well-used desk.
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How did you come up with the design of this space?
"There have been a million iterations of this space. It's really grown with the brand, and it's definitely become a second home for us. Originally we had a showroom on one side and used the other side for our office, but now we have too many people, so we actually use our stores as showrooms."
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So, which aspects of the process actually happen in your office?
"Everything from designing to drilling and polishing to assembly and shipping happens here. Then, we have a couple of guys in Midtown who take care of casting and molding and basically anything that involves heavy machinery, and all the plating is done in Rhode Island."
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Was it important to you to keep your work space looking and feeling vintage?
"When we started, we had all of this beautiful vintage furniture and quirky ways of storing jewelry — I insisted that everything be kept in antique glass mason jars! But, there comes a time when that sticky vintage drawer won't open, and that rad antique wooden office chair starts giving you back problems, and that beautiful glass mason jar spontaneously explodes (true story!), and it happens: You break down and go to IKEA. I feel like that's bad for the story, but it's the truth!
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So, what are some of your favorite spots in the neighborhood?
"Definitely Peels. Mother's Ruin is right across the street from our Elizabeth store, and there's a vegan place that just opened on Kenmare called Butcher's Daughter that's great. And we always order delivery from Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop."
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What about boutiques? Where do you get your retail therapy?
"A Détacher and definitely No.6…I love everything they do. If I ever made a line of clothing, I feel like I'd want it to look like that."
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Now we're intrigued — do you have any plans to start a line of clothing?
"Well, actually…not necessarily a line of clothing, but I have this fantasy of designing a vintage and antique-inspired lingerie line. When I was a costumer, I worked on the Broadway show Cabaret, and we worked with antique lingerie piece. I had to rebuild a lot of them so they could function as dancewear, which was definitely a challenge since elastic didn't exist in the '20s. The styles are so beautiful, and I'd love to make a collection that's actually wearable. Who knows if it'll ever happen!"

Isabel Marant boots.
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Mason jars of found vintage curios — a staple of the studio.
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You clearly love vintage clothing as well…
"I have a huge love of very old clothing — like the older the better. I can get pretty nerdy about Egyptian shrouds from 1,000 B.C."

What about vintage stores — do you have any favorites?
"Malin Landaeus — she carries a lot of '60s and '70s Swedish vintage. The colors are really great, and you know no one else is going to have anything like her finds. I also love Narnia and Ritual Vintage, which used to be called Exquisite Costume. I got all of my bridesmaid dresses for my wedding there."

Vintage dress, Isabel Marant boots.

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