Sunday, 13 January 2013
INTERVIEW - Jewellery Designer Eric Van Peterson
I caught up with jewellery designer Eric Van Peterson to get an insight into his world. Eric recently celebrated 30 years within the industry with his company Van Peterson Designs that he runs with his wife Lin (both pictured above). And the success has been widespread – everything from having big-name celebrities wear the brand's designs to a long-standing diffusion line on the high street. Read on to find out more...
You've been in business for more than 30 years, what have been your career highlights?
For me it’s been those moments when someone who could shop anywhere in the world buys my designs – you can’t beat that feeling! I’ve been lucky to have a whole host of people from Charlize Theron to David Bowie come into my store over the years. Another highlight was being asked to design for other companies. Debenhams asked me to design a diffusion line for them 15 years ago and it’s still going strong today!
What have been your biggest challenges?
As a designer, getting to grips with the business side of running a retail brand has been tricky. Creative people aren’t naturally drawn to the details of business: We’re less likely to, you know, ‘read the contract thoroughly’! Luckily we’ve adjusted over the years!
How has the jewellery market changed and how do you keep ahead?
Like everything in fashion, the jewellery market has become much more trend driven – I remember when Burberry sold floral dresses and sensible shoes for example. For me, this just offers more scope. People are now open to new aesthetics, like more colour or exotic life symbols like the evil eye or hand of Fatima. A designer can be more creative and expressive now than they used to be.
Who or what have been your muses for your work?
I am the luckiest guy in the world! I’ve come from the cornfields of Ohio to Chelsea – and find myself surrounded by beautiful women everyday. But Lin Van Peterson has always been my muse, and after all these years she is still amazing and inspires the collections we produce.
How would you describe your design signature? What makes it unique?
Classic with a twist – like using leather with pearls for example. I like pieces that look irregular and have an organic feel. Everything needs to be unusual but still very wearable.
How do you unwind and relax outside of your work?
Fortunately, I am super enthusiastic about the gym and running. I am addicted to endorphins!
What would be your advice to other jewellery designers starting out in the business?
When you leave college, work in the industry so you understand how to sell. Find out what your audience really wants to buy. Learn about packaging. Get an understanding of repairs and how to deal with customers and after-sales service. Only once you have a firm grasp of all of this should you think about your own retail or online store.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
When I was a child, back in Ohio, my Grandfather said "Son, don’t wait to be happy".
If you were not a jewellery designer, what profession would you have chosen?
If I wasn’t a jewellery designer I would be an architect or a film director.
Eric's 30 years of selling jewellery have most definitely made him an expert on the subject. I love that the couple started their journey selling vintage items at Camden Lock Market (one of my favourite places in London). What would be your dream piece of jewellery to own? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Or, take inspiration from some of Van Peterson's designs. Prices in the new collection start from £180. Try the website or visit the store in Chelsea, details below...
Van Peterson Design
194-196 Walton Street, London, SW3 2JL
(0)20 7584 1101