Golden Girl

Meet the Trendy Houston Jewelry Queen with a Celebrity Following

Frasier Sterling Jewelry began in 2011 as a side-hustle. Now celebrities like Bella and Gigi Hadid are wearing the brand's earrings.

By Abby Ledoux June 9, 2020 Published in the June 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

FRASIER LIPTON GREW UP SURROUNDED BY JEWELRY—literally. “My grandmother had closets the size of this room filled with all the materials she used to make her jewelry,” the Houston native says. Her grandmother, Harriet Weisz—known to Lipton as “Nini”—designed flashy costume jewelry professionally for more than a decade. Weisz was a regular on the trade show circuit and was known for her giant, Swarovski crystal-studded earrings, wildly popular in the ’80s and ’90s. Her jewelry even appeared in a Pepsi commercial.

“She’s, like, so cool—she’s a stunner,” Lipton says, pulling up a photo of Nini dancing in a New York City restaurant earlier this year. “She’s literally my best friend.”

Lipton’s seven cousins weren’t all that interested in Nini’s craft. “But I was,” she says. “I would always make jewelry at her house, and I loved doing it. It was a hobby and a passion that I had from the time I was a kid.”

That lasted into adulthood, and Lipton started making pieces for friends and family in college—she’d traded Houston for L.A. to pursue pre-med at Cal State Northridge—as a side hustle. In 2011, at age 20, she launched Frasier Sterling Jewelry from her apartment. Nini invested in the business and, for a time, handled all the procurement. Lipton sold to stores back home including Kuhl-Linscomb, Katia, Longoria Collection, and More Than You Can Imagine, developing a healthy reorder business and making a name for herself. Within five years her uncle came on board as CEO and helped her secure $1 million in venture capital funding.

By then Lipton had abandoned her medical dreams, as jewelry making had become a full-time passion. She picked up major retailers such as Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Revolve, eventually selling to 5,000 stores worldwide. But with the steady decline of brick-and-mortar, Lipton and her investors decided to pivot.

“We noticed that stores were going out of business,” she says. “We decided at that point, ‘the retail space is changing so much, we need to be in control of our own destiny, and the only way to do that is to go direct-to-consumer.’” Lipton kept one retail partner—Revolve—but pulled out of all the other stores, outsourced most elements of her business, and moved back to Texas with her now-husband, another native Houstonian; the two first met in Sunday School.

Today Lipton runs the show remotely, and business has never been better. “Our margins are double, and we have control over the vibe of what we’re putting out,” she says. “Stores are so particular—if you’re at Nordstrom, they don’t want things that say “f*** you” on them. We were able to really give our followers what they want, and it just snowballed from there.”

And she really means followers: In the age of Instagram, there’s a constant demand among millennials and Gen Z-ers for Lipton’s cute, trendy pieces. (Think nameplate necklaces, dangly anklets, and stackable rings.) With a target demographic of young girls ages 13 to 30, her girly gold accessories have a distinct Y2K aesthetic—butterflies, hearts, stars, cherries, and yin-yangs are recurring symbols—and arrive in baby-pink packaging accompanied by a sheet of stickers with glittering pot leaves and “99% angel” emblems.

And while business has grown exponentially, Frasier Sterling remains nimble enough to respond quickly to consumer demand. Take, for example, the obsession with HBO’s Euphoria, which launched an entire online aesthetic when it premiered last June. “When Euphoria was on, every single comment was like, ‘oh, this is so Euphoria,’” Lipton says. So she pounced, making a simple gold bracelet engraved with a line from the show: ‘Bitch, you’re my soulmate.’ “I thought it was cute—I liked it and I got it, but I had no idea how it would be received—and it went absolutely crazy,” Lipton says. “Euphoria’s stylists reached out to us to pull pieces for the second season, and that was one of the things they pulled, so it kind of came full circle. I was definitely stoked about that.”

Over time Lipton has built an impressive client list that most notably includes the Hadid and Jenner sisters, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact that the average Frasier Sterling order is just $40.

“I think that’s the main selling point of Frasier Sterling: We sell affordable, trendy jewelry that people like Bella and Gigi and Kendall and Kylie want to wear, but that’s accessible—when it’s not sold out—to anyone,” Lipton says.

Celebrity placements have long been a key component of Lipton’s business. “I’m such a hustler, and living in L.A. I made all these connections and I collected addresses. Now whenever we launch new products, I send them to my list of celebrities,” she says. “They get thousands of gifts every single day, and we’re just sending it to them; they have no obligation to wear it. Bella Hadid has tagged us in her Instagram stories. Do you know how much that costs? A million dollars, probably—her reach is insane. It’s priceless.”

Last fall Bella repeatedly wore Frasier Sterling butterfly huggies—$44 earrings that had been selling “okay,” Lipton says. The product became an overnight sensation. “We were suddenly selling thousands,” Lipton says. Then Gigi wore the same huggies at her highly photographed 25th birthday party. “You’d die for a major moment like that.”

Even that philosophy goes back to Nini: In her prime Weisz amassed clients like Miss America contestants and Paula Abdul. “Obviously they weren’t online back then, but it’s so funny because there are so many synergies. She had such a similar path to me,” Lipton says. “She has always loved designing, and she was a hustler, too.

June 12, 2020: This story has been updated to reflect corrections, including that Harriet Weisz was in the jewelry business for 10 years. Houstonia regrets the error. 

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