Where you a wild child? In high school did you like to break the fashion rules? Did you break out in hives if the cheer leading squad walked by? Was your go to color black? If so I can relate, I am a former goth myself, and even though I am all grown up I still like to retain a bit of that rock-n-roll spirit. I no longer shop at Hot Topix or use Manic Panic to dye my hair, but that doesn’t mean an occasional skull or two won’t find their way in to my wardrobe. My tastes may have become more sophisticated but I am still a rebel at heart. So when I discovered the new accessories line Skyler Man I was beside myself, and my black heart was a pitter patter with excitement. Skyler Man is a custom jewelry line in which the pieces are made by hand, and are made to order. The designs feature things like skulls, safety pins, bats, rifles, sea horses, fish skeletons, shark teeth, serpents, and chain link. They are made from precious gems, gold, rose gold, black gold, silver and pearls. And because the pieces are made by hand, they all one of a kind. The designer likes to mix it up and often uses pearls in unexpected ways—like threading a safety pin with a string of mini pearls, or breaking up a pearl bracelet with a few skull charms.
Skyler Man was founded by Alina Skyler and her sister Elizabeth Metlitsky. Alina started her jewelry line out of frustration when she could not find high end jewelry that spoke to her aesthetic. Not happy with the typical gold chains, charm bracelets, and mass produced costume jewelry available in most stores, Alina sought to create a line of jewelry that not only had an edge, but that was also sophisticated and authentic. She sought to create pieces that could be valuable keepsakes and one-of-a-kind conversation starters. Alina is the creative spirit and designs the pieces, and Elizabeth is the brains behind the business. Together they are filling a much needed niche and I am excited to see where the future takes them. Last week I was lucky enough to sit down with Alina and her sister for a lovely brunch in Brooklyn. We had smoked salmon appetizers, cream cheese avocado mini bagels with arugula, and mimosa’s with fresh mint—all made by Elizabeth herself. We spoke about the inspiration behind the line, how to learn from your mistakes when starting a business, why they choose to be a made to order company and the future of Skyler Man…
1) You spoke about your desire to marry your core punk rock-n-roll aesthetic with a more grown up sophisticated approach. Could you tell us a little bit more about what inspires you when you think about a future line or piece?
It’s not so much a desire as a natural evolution. I’m proud of the fact that my style has not really changed much over the years, but as you say, it grew up a bit. It underlines the fact (at least to myself) that my style is genuine and not just one that is driven by trends. I still appreciate the things that I appreciated before, but maybe more grown-up or expensive or sophisticated versions. This is an evolution because the groundwork is the same, but a little tweaked. So, in creating a new piece or a future line, I am still very much driven and influenced by an edgy sort-of punk rock style, but cleaned up a bit. A look you can even wear to work, and people who get it, will get it.
2) Early on in your career making jewelry you created a piece with safety pins that ultimately did not work out due to a construction problem, how did you learn from this and what advice would give someone who may be thinking of starting a jewelry line?
The good thing about making mistakes is that you learn from them, otherwise they would be a waste of money but this way, they are like a class, sure it costs you, but you learn something. I made that mistake with the safety pins, but it ultimately taught me how to make safety pins the right way, and right now, some of my most favored and popular pieces are my gold safety pin pieces; the friendship pin bracelet, necklace and earrings. I also just made a new ring, with safety pins, which hasn’t even come out yet. And, safety pins are always all the rage, at least I think so. So I have some more safety pin designs in store. And as far as advice, as with every business; surround yourself with people you trust; never be discouraged, and treat your mistakes as a learning tool.
3) Your sister Liz is the other half of the company, she is your controller and VP of marketing, how did this come about and what is like working with your sister?
There are some things in life you can’t control, but I can certainly control who I work with in my company, and this was the best decision ever. My sister shares a similar style, so she always gets it. I trust her sense of taste completely so if I get overwhelmed and I’m not sure about certain designs or ideas, I check with her. She is also the rational one behind the business. I work off of a passionate desire to create pieces and she organizes it and puts it into a business driven perspective. I think this just naturally happened this way because I was creating jewelry that she believed in, and that her and her friends loved. She started helping me out in organizing the financials and focusing on marketing, which are the two things that I don’t have time to devote to. She did more and more work, and eventually became the other half of Skyler Man.
4) Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the name Skyler Man?
The name Skyler is a combination of my married last name and my maiden last name. So my name became Alina Skyler. And Man is the last 3 letters of one of my best friend’s last names; she also was an initial investor and she inspired the jewelry line by believing in me. The name seemed to be a perfect fit, because it has the initials S and M, which I thought was so cute. Also, Skyler Man seems like such an androgynous name, and I feel like many pieces in the line are truly androgynous. It was like fate when the name was born, it seemed perfect.
5) All of your jewelry is made to order, do you ever see yourself going the mass producing route?
I can stock a few pieces but I don’t think we will be mass produced. It doesn’t really have the same look and feel with mass production.
6) If you were not the designer of your own jewelry line, what would you be doing?
I used to want to be an actress or a writer. I don’t know whether I would be doing those things but that’s what I wanted to do. Another thought was me getting my Ph.D. in English and being a professor (I have a Masters in English Literature).
7) Thus far, what has been the highlight of your career as a jewelry designer?
Working with my sister.
*The Skyler Man website is currently under construction and will be up this coming Monday June 30th.
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