A multi-generational charm bracelet and a mother and daughter team launched the successful Charmco
“As a kid, I remember hearing the jingling sound of my grandmother’s charm bracelet when she was visiting and came through the door after a night out for dinner with my mom. It was a sound that made me feel safe in knowing that they were home.” Says Lisa Feldkamp, co-owner with her mother Leslie Slutsky of Charmco—a vintage and modern charm company, which sells separate charms and also offers custom designs necklaces and bracelets for their clients, quite a number of which are celebrities.
Lisa grew up with both her maternal and paternal grandmother owning charm bracelets. Her mother, Leslie loved anything that was vintage or antique. Yet neither she nor Leslie thought of entering into the jewelry business: Lisa held a prestigious position at Bloomberg Communications and Leslie was a successful real estate broker. Then in 2000, Lisa’s maternal grandmother passed away. ‘It was a very sad time that pushed my mom and me to reevaluate what we’re doing and if we were really happy. Both of us came up with the same answer—no!”
She continues,” but what really closed the deal on our launching our business was the amazing bracelets that my mother created, first splitting up the significant pieces from my grandmother’s bracelet for herself, my sister Blair and me. She then personalized the bracelets even more by adding in vintage charms that would speak to all of our different personalities and lifestyles. When I saw the finished bracelets I was speechless and in awe.”
Not only did Leslie hunt down the perfect charms for both of her daughters but also dangling from each wrist would be pieces that recalled different moments of three generations of Leslie and Lisa’s maternal family. Lisa eventually added charms from her paternal grandmother as well.
Charmco was born in 2000 after both women realized that these were the type of pieces that appealed to women since the Victorian era and would continue well into the future. “It was also a time when women were turning towards more meaningful jewelry after 9/11. Pieces with significance, sentimentality and heartfelt emotions really were the only pieces of jewelry selling at this time with the exception of bridal.” Says Lisa.
It’s not surprising that a mother and daughter team belies the success of Charmco. These are the jewels that tell our stories—and there is nothing more intimate, celebratory or revealing about our personalities loves and lives, special occasions and momentous events in jewelry than what we decide to add to our charm collections.
Lisa and Leslie’s jewelry adventure was formally launched in 2004 at Bergdorf Goodman’s “design your own charm bar”, followed by a book collaboration; The Charm of Charms in 2005. After selling in boutiques and department stores, Lisa and Leslie decided to sell Charmco exclusively online and direct to customers, which allowed them to offer better prices than in store and with the greatest possible selection.
Their diverse collection ranges from charms spanning every era, many of which were created in the mid-20th century—to those they began to design based on the original pieces they knew they would never find again. These modern versions reﬂect the same handcrafted quality and distinctive detail of the vintage styles. They offer over 1000 styles in total at any given time and are often themed in Love, Travel, Hobbies and Engravables, among others.
Although women continue to wear charm bracelets, Lisa has been seeing a trend over the past five or so years towards necklaces as well. In fact, she even built one for herself, which traces her most memorable travels since she was a junior in college. Charms include
–A charm featuring the Ponte Vecchio in Florence where she spent her favorite year in college.
-A pagoda and junk boat, which reminds Lisa of the time she lived in Asia for three years
– A Scottish book in celebration of spending her husband’s 40th birthday in Scotland
-A buffalo because she was told it was her spirit animal
-A charm representing Crested Butte, the small ski town where Lisa was proposed to by her husband
-An all-moveable parts camera, says Lisa, “ This is because I take pictures when I am traveling to capture every moment”
– A compass, “which for me, shows me the way and also keeps me traveling in all directions”
This necklace continues to evolve and in addition to pieces from London and Paris, Lisa recently added the Taj Mahal after a trip to India.
Although Lisa wears her travel charm necklace quite often, it the original charm bracelet with parts from her grandmother that Leslie gave her that is her most cherished piece of jewelry.
She describes it here: “My bracelet has charms from both my grandma Boomie (my maternal grandmother and the original charm collector and southern lady and my paternal grandma Ida. From Boomie I have a decorative perfume with a little stopper, a taximeter for her trips to NYC to visit us, a love for sale cash register that opens and closes and a peridot pendant for my August birthday. I added a signet ring that belonged to my Grandma Ida. My mother bought me the devil that pops out of the martini shaker and the sweets for the sweet chocolate box. The little man that lives in the doghouse also epitomizes my mother’s humor so that one reminds me of her. As time has gone on, I added calendars with both of my daughters’ birthdays as well as little Chinese Zodiacs for them, a rat and a rooster. My little one was born in Hong Kong and she has a real affinity for all things Chinese!”
Charmco has developed a celebrity following with actresses such as Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn (buying mother and daughter bracelets a few years back for Mother’s Day, Debra Messing, Katherine Hail, Kelly Ripe and Mariah Carey.
If you prefer to work with them directly and live in the New York area or are traveling to New York, you can make an appointment to see them in person. Please check out their website for all information below.