Since yesterday was International Woman’s Day, it’s only fitting that I share another Sitting Pretty With interview with y’all today. In this month’s post, I’m sitting pretty with Jillian Bremer of Sweet & Spark. She’s the San Francisco based jewelry and vintage lover who went out on a whim and combined her two passions to start an online vintage jewelry company for the modern woman. She traveled the country and used her impeccable eye to curate the one-stop-jewelry-shop that is Sweet & Spark. I first discovered Jillian through her beautiful Instagram and have enjoyed following along and shopping along with her ever since. Her jewels are absolutely gorgeous and make for the perfect heartfelt gifts. Jillian is such a driven creative that I know you’ll absolutely love her full interview! Plus, she has some great tips about San Fransico. Did I mention that she has the best name!?
Sitting Pretty With Jillian Bremer of Sweet & Spark
Name: Jillian Bremer
Neighborhood: Pacific Heights, San Francisco
Job: Founder, Sweet & Spark
Instagram Handle: @sweetandspark
Let’s talk business…
You started your own company called Sweet & Spark. What has been the most rewarding experience?
An entrepreneurial journey is a personal one, filled with moments that stretch your capacity for courage, gratitude, hope and love. The thing is, everyone has a different story and path. For me, my checkpoint had always been the same, “Am I happy and am I living a flexible life?” If the answer to both of those is “yes”, then Sweet & Spark lives on. I consciously have decided to run this business on passion because that is where the magic happens. There is immense power in focus.
Describe your company in 3 sentences or less.
S&S is the only online vintage jewelry company that is curated for the modern, feminine woman. Our jewelry tells a story through its history, detailed designs and unmatched quality. We believe in celebrating everyday and every occasion and think there’s nothing more effortless than a woman wearing vintage.
Can you tell us a little more about your role as founder and what it requires?
The role of a founder is not black and white and requires courage to live in the unknown. Going to work everyday with both hope and fear is such a spiritual endeavor that demands your full capacity. The only way to remain sane is to stay focused on key tasks and priorities. Batching manual tasks and working on a seasonal calendar keeps our team sane. Nobody wants to worry about what to Instagram first thing on a Saturday morning! Also, staying connected with like-minded entrepreneurs is always fulfilling and keeps me going.
What is your career path? Have you always wanted to start your own company?
Life in the retail industry started for me back in college at Syracuse University, where I studied retail management & marketing. I’ve always been passionate about both fashion & business and the retail industry was the perfect fit to marry both of these. After buying stints at both Bloomingdales in NY and Gap Inc. in San Francisco, where I learned the difference between department and specialty store buying models, I took a unique opportunity to help launch a new brand, 77kids for American Eagle Outfitters.
When the new brand that I was working closed, I was offered either a lateral move into women’s or a severance package. I listened to my intuition and took the opportunity to leave corporate American and explore my entrepreneurial interests, which led me to traveling around the country with my dad and antiquing and then the launch of S&S about six months into my unemployment journey.
What keeps you inspired at work day-in and day-out?
Working out daily keeps my mind clear and my body in line with that energy. Also, I feel most creative in the mornings so I try to honor that by scrolling on Pinterest, reading a magazine or playing with future jewelry collections for about ½- 1 hour each morning.
Is there something you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your company?
There are several approaches to starting a business, one being to build a sound business plan and then hit the ground running with focus and then there’s my approach, start now with everything you’ve got and just keep moving. While I don’t regret the time spent in the first few years learning so many new skills, if I would have know about the power in partnering with a business consultant, I would have done it a lot sooner than I did. It created incredible focus for my true product and merchandising strengths to shine. People who start companies usually do so because they are incredible at one thing, for me that’s product and merchandising, but when they get overwhelmed, it’s usually the first thing to fall away from their focus because it’s “easy” but what they don’t see in the short term is that’s what can break the company in the long run.
Let’s talk Fashion…
Describe your style in three adjectives.
Classic, casual and feminine.
What are your wardrobe staples?
Red lipstick & 80’s statement earrings
If I peeked into your closet, what color would be the most prominent?
Basic Neutrals with pops of classic prints (polka dots, stripes, plaids)
What fashion piece would you splurge on tomorrow if you could?
Gucci interlocking G belt- my vintage loving heart is all over that classic style.
Are there any trends you’re excited about right now?
The statement earring trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and is my favorite vintage category on the site. For spring, we curated a super statement collection featuring oversized shapes and details. Talk about wearable art! And for Fall, we’re excited that the round, button shaped earring is going to make a comeback. You can count on us to be all over that!
What is your favorite type of jewelry to wear?
I love wearing a statement brooch on sweaters or outerwear. It feels like the ultimate expression of personal style! Get inspired to #broochit on our instagram.
Let’s talk Beauty…
What are your beauty must-haves?
Red lipstick, Cocokind Body Butter & Biolage Leave in Hair Creme
What perfume do you spritz on as you walk out the door?
What color nail polish are you currently wearing?
Let’s talk Décor…
Describe your decorating style in three adjectives.
Modern, feminine, with vintage accents (most specifically, brass and pretty vases!)
If your mother taught you one trick about interior decorating, what would it be?
Style vignettes around your home with things that you already have and that hold meaning for you!
What is your favorite piece of art or furniture you own?
A gorgeous pastel floral painting that my grandmother painted for me. I have it hanging in my bedroom and it reminds me how important it is to have hobbies in life. (image is in my home tour here)
What’s on your bar cart?
California Cabs (and my fridge is always stocked with Golden State Ciders)
Do you have any must-have coffee table books?
Aside from owning a book on almost every original vintage jewelry designer out there, I love American Fashion, it talks about the influence behind fashion trends over the decades and is incredibly fascinating.
Let’s talk Travel…
Beach or Mountains?
Beach. My sister lives in Hawaii and I use any excuse I can to go visit.
East Coast or West Coast?
West Coast. I’m originally from Buffalo, NY and lived in Pittsburgh, PA for many years but California has my heart for the long haul.
What is your favorite destination?
Lake Tahoe. There’s something about the top of a mountain that resets your perspective and makes you feel free.
Are you planning any upcoming trips?
Providence, RI to visit the vintage costume jewelry museum. I’ve never been and am so excited to check it out! From there, my dad and I will be spark hunting around the Northeast states. You can follow all of our travels on Instagram!
Who is your favorite travel buddy?
My dad. I’m so thankful for the time we’ve spent together traveling around the country spark hunting and am excited for so many more to come. Being on the road is always a great change of pace and helps new ideas rise to the surface.
Let’s talk San Francisco…
What is your favorite part of living in San Francisco?
The juxtaposition of new and old. California is for dreaming and living your fullest life.
Fill in the blank: “On the weekend, you’ll find me at _____________.”
The Pad yoga and then Jane Café for coffee
Best date night restaurant?
Best brunch restaurant?
Plow in Potrero Hill
Best healthy food restaurant?
Blue Barn for a gigantic salad
Best boutique(s) or shop/shopping?
Alameda Antique Fair which happens the first Sunday of every month
Bike ride over the golden gate bridge or a trip to wine country
Anything else we need to know about San Francisco?
Always pack extra layers than you think 🙂
Photographs: Sweet & Spark & Sweet & Spark Blog
I love all your sitting pretty interviews, Jillian, but this one is especially a favorite! I went to Syracuse and I had no idea that (the other) Jillian did too! Her career path is awesome (and I immediately sent this to my roommate who was also a retail major at Syracuse!)
Awww thank you so much Diana! I’m so so happy to hear that you love the interview!! I hope your friend does too (sounds like she will!) 🙂 Thank you so much for reading R&R! xx
Hi Diana! What a small world. The retail program (& mostly Prof Nicholson) at SU was the best 🙂