The Women

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Lisa Salzer

Founder & Designer of Lulu FrostNew York, New YorkPhotos by Lauri Levenfeld & Andrea PosadasStory by Lauri Levenfeld

Out of the torrential NY rain we came and into a holiday winter wonderland.  Lisa Salzer, a visionary and artist in every way- has created in her new studio, a breathtaking oasis to showcase her jaw-dropping jewels. Every detail is designed by Lisa herself or one of her many talented and famous friends, even down to the duct taped graphic walls (Lisa did herself!) that resemble the finest in wallpaper. Lisa’s strength and poise show in everything she does- her story below is an open-encyclopedia for women wanting to follow their dreams and make becoming an entrepreneur a reality. So much wisdom to be behold…

 

My name is Lisa Salzer and I am the founder and designer of Lulu Frost jewelry. My journey in becoming an entrepreneur began when I was quite a young girl.  My grandmother, Elizabeth Rock Frost, was the manager of an estate jewelry store in New Hope, PA. I spent many weekends whiling away the hours in the store, admiring all of the glorious vintage and antique pieces. 

My love for vintage followed me to Dartmouth College where I began making jewelry for friends during my senior year from pieces sourced at local Vermont and New Hampshire flea markets.   I think the combination of learning about jewelry from my grandmother, as well as, watching her in the selling process helped to inspire my design and business sides.  After graduating from college, I also took a wonderful crash course at the Tuck School of Business, which put me in the right mentality to launch my business.  

I was not always sure of what field in particular my career would be in – however, I always thought I would be a business owner.  As an art history major at Dartmouth, I felt I would potentially work in the gallery or in the auction world, and envisioned myself as an entrepreneur there.  During my senior year, however, it became obvious to me that my passion lay with jewelry and so I immediately pursued it.  One of my greatest strokes of luck was finding my passion so early on.  I think many women have the potential to be great entrepreneurs but are not exactly sure what niche to focus on.

“It’s all about specialization in
order to create a stronghold.”

 

For me, I have never let being a woman hold me back in any way. If you work hard and strive to reach your goals, nothing can really stand in your way regardless of your gender.  When I was younger, I learned some crucial life lessons from my amazing father Peter Salzer about being tough, working hard and being an equal in a male dominated world – that of mountaineering.  My dad’s hobby during my teenage years was climbing mountains, and in joining him, I realized I absolutely loved the outdoors.  Most importantly, I learned that I loved relying on myself to survive.  I was usually one of the only women in our expedition groups and loved being able to do everything if not more than the guys.  I learned a lot about how tough I could be on those mountains and cherish those invaluable lessons to this day.    

My family was incredibly supportive in the beginning.  My parents basically said they would sanction my choice to eschew getting a traditional job for one year after college.  If Lulu Frost didn’t take off after that first fateful year, my plan was to get a “normal” job.  Thankfully, things worked out and I was able to continue pursuing my passion. I was so young when I started that in some cases, my actions were almost comical to my friends from college.  I remember that at age 21, one year out of school, I hired two interns to work for me who were probably my age or possibly even older.  Some of my college friends thought it was hilarious and a bit of a joke, but most of them saw my greater vision and encouraged me to just jump right in.  From the beginning, in some ways I feel like I’ve been almost “acting” at being a business owner.  During a moment of clarity, I realized that “acting” like you know what you are doing is the best way to actually learn what you need to know to succeed.  That’s why I always advocate just jumping head first into pursuing your goals.  You will learn along the way and won’t waste time second-guessing your instincts.

One of the continual struggles  I am faced with in being a business owner is that of staffing and dealing with people’s emotions in the work place.  Everyone is human and life can get in the way of the day-to-day happenings at the office. It’s my job to oversee everyone’s interpersonal relationships and remind the team of our greater goals. I am very proud of how people respect our team at Lulu Frost and for the overarching sense of teamwork we’ve built here, but it is not something that comes easily. Like all things worth doing, hard work is required.

I would say that in the early days and still to this day my father, mother and sister have been great mentors for me.  They always supported and believed in my vision for Lulu Frost and continue to do so.  Some time into my career, I was lucky enough to meet and learn from the inimitable Mickey Drexler, who has become a business mentor for me.  I feel so lucky to have the support network that I do.

Becoming a member of the CFDA has been my biggest accomplishment to date.  I had hoped to be a member for some years and getting in for the year 2013 was a wonderful feeling.

Last my most important piece of advice I’d like to give other women is that the only thing holding you back from pursuing your dreams is your own fear.  I advocate turning our fears into motivators instead of letting them take us over and paralyze our potential.  Women are so incredible – we can do it all.  From being mothers to canny thinkers to great negotiators, all we need is to believe in our own abilities more.  When a woman is encouraged to believe in herself and then does, she becomes unstoppable.

 

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