Don’t get me wrong, my mother and I have a great relationship: We shop together, travel together, laugh together, and she’s pretty much my #1 fan (hey, Mom!). But what we don’t do is work together…and I don’t think we’d ever want to. Our competitive spirit rears its ugly head during fierce games of Yahtzee and epic Rummy tournaments – and those are just two examples of why the Bensmans tend to keep personal and professional affairs separate.
Not so for the mother/daughter design team behind Phillips House, a fine jewelry brand that counts celebs like Zooey Deschanel, Kerry Washington and Erin Wasson as fans. Danielle and Lisa Frankel launched Phillips House in April 2010, focusing on a blend of wearable classic design with a signature high-fashion aesthetic (Michelle Obama even wore a pair of Phillips House earrings to meet with Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton). NBD.
I caught up with the duo to learn more about the brand, their bond and a new baby who will most definitely be the best accessorized of the bunch.
Julie Bensman: How did the idea for Phillips House come about?
Lisa Frankel: I was always very creative, designing jewelry for friends, family and private customers. It seemed like the next chapter to start creating on a broader scale. When Danielle graduated college, we started designing together full time and things just clicked.
JB: What's the best thing about working with your mom?
Danielle Frankel: Designing is a vulnerable process so feeling that way in front of your mother is very comfortable. I could never image designing with anyone else.
JB: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
LF: I pull inspiration from the classics, thriving off great architecture and design. I usually dream up designs at night and tend to be a little obsessive. It’s like being inside a live coloring book. The designs just start pouring in.
JB: Where do you source your materials?
DF: Planet Earth! And we are always exploring new resources.
JB: What was your reaction when you found out Michelle Obama wore your earrings to meet with Queen Elizabeth?
LF: It was a pinch-me moment. Immediately tears welled in my eyes and I thought my unborn grandchildren are going to see our earrings in a museum one day.
DF: We were driving at the time someone called us with the news, and I screamed, almost causing an accident! I knew the eyes of the entire fashion world would be watching the First Lady’s meeting with Kate Middleton, so it was such an honor to be selected.
JB: When it comes to jewelry, what’s one piece every woman should own?
DF: The Love Always Bracelet. When I was little, my parents engraved a watch for me and I loved the fact that I had this message that no one else could see. It was special and personal. We wanted to give this feeling to each of our customers.
JB: What's next for Phillips House?
LF: From a professional standpoint, we’re expanding to the west coast. From a personal standpoint, we’re expecting a new baby (Danielle is pregnant, due in February)!