While I am particularly passionate about hair accessory collections, I also have a known weakness for anything bling including earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
Since the Summer of 1999 when HairBoutique.com's e-store was first launched, with a handful of primitive hand-crafted hair accessories, one of my primary focus points has been to add a complete array of hair jewels for every budget and potential event, from daily wear to evening wear.
Although HairBoutique started in the minor accessory leagues with a few jewelry artisans showcasing limited collections, we graduated to the majors in 2002 with the addition of the France Luxe collection. I had been eyeballing the luscious France Luxe designs for close to two years before HairBoutique.com was finally able to work out a sales distribution relationship.
(Shown above - France Luxe - Limited Edition Swarovski Crystal Swirl Barrette)
Ironically my first introduction to France Luxe was with the purchase of a signature Barely There Barrette in a traditional tortoise hue. How I loved that beautiful piece. I would sit and admire the gold plated barrette finding and the smooth as silk faux tortoise acetate finish. It quickly became my favorite hair jewel of all time. I still wear it to this day.
Once HairBoutique.com started officially doing business with France Luxe, I found myself adoring all the spectacular designs, while falling madly in love with all the fun and fabulous people at this incredible company founded and run by accessory wunderkind, Laurie Erickson.
Selling Beautiful Things - Making People Happy
Although my initial contact with the France Luxe product line was with barrette goddess, Celeste, my interest in Laurie was piqued as I learned tidbits about how the company was founded and its admirable business philosophies. (Shown above France Luxe - Cutout Rec Jaw - Fuchsia)
Whenever Celeste, who became known at HairBoutique as The Evil Princess (aka EP) for her ability to shamelessly tempt me with the many luscious designs, would settle in for a marathon phone ordering session, I would pump her for Laurie scoops.
Over time I discovered that behind the gorgeous France Luxe collections was a beautiful, ethical and honest founder who is full of compassion, wisdom and kindness.
I also learned that for Laurie, selling beautiful things that make people happy is the primary motivation behind her company, The Finest Accessories, Inc. That, and the fact that the success of the company has provided her with many venues to help women in need.
It Started With A Scrunchy
So how did Laurie find her way to the hair accessory business and ultimately to The Finest Accessories, Inc.?
The Scrunchy phenomenon in the mid 80s provided Laurie's entre into the hair accessories market. Using her fabulous creativity, she made some alterations to the basic design of the famous pony holder, filled a small shirt box with this new design sewn up in clever fabrics and materials, and went knocking on doors. Her first sale totaled $13.50, but exciting enough to keep her knocking until her first big account, Nordstrom, placed an order.
As Laurie expanded her customer base, one of her customers suggested she investigate the centuries-old manufacturing unique to an area in France, to take her line to the next level. In this area outside Provence, the complex process of crafting high-end “tortoise shell” cellulose acetate is passed down from generation to generation producing the most exclusive and exquisite hair accessories in the world.
(Shown above: France Luxe - Hair Sticks - Ivory Tokyo)
Laurie worked with these French manufacturers to develop new and interesting “tortoise” styles that would be unique to the American market.
It was when Laurie and her husband adopted two children that she sold her first company to be a full time Mom. However, as she puts it, “I only had one ‘Leave It To Beaver’ week where everything was clicking; milk was in the fridge, dinner on the table, teeth were brushed, but my hair was out of control. I knew I needed to get back to my work.” (Shown above: France Luxe - Daisy Pony - Yellow)
France Luxe - First Luxury Brand
The Finest Accessories, Inc. was launched on Valentine’s Day in 1997. With a successful design and sales history, the new company took off. Laurie immediately flew to France and reconnected with her French manufacturing families. Together, they crafted a collection of beautiful hair ornaments to be introduced for the first time with the launch of her brand name, France Luxe.
France Luxe was the first true luxury brand of French hair accessories to be introduced to the American market. This brand has been followed by Laurie’s other brands, France Luxe Vanity, France Luxe Jewelry, Cliq France, Frenchetti Barretti and L. Erickson, USA.
Laurie's passion for beautiful hair accessory designs is demonstrated in the France Luxe collections along with the fact that Laurie personally loves to wear an ever changing daily array of different accessories on her own tresses. The knowledge that Laurie is constantly coiffed with one of her accessories is beyond admirable.
Giving Back To Women - StyleWorks
With the creation of The Finest Accessories, Laurie was intent on having a secondary purpose: giving back to women. As a result, the company has always been generous in providing product to various organizations.
Even more importantly, Laurie was looking for a strong personal connection. It was in 2000 while watching “Oprah” that Laurie saw Malaak Compton-Rock talking about StyleWorks, a non-profit organization that offers free comprehensive grooming services to women who are moving from welfare to work.
Shortly after the “Oprah” feature, Laurie and Malaak formed an alliance and has been involved with StyleWorks ever since. In 2003, donations to the organization and its sister agencies totaled more than $400,000 of product at retail.
Today, France Luxe combined with L.Erickson USA, are the number-one hair accessories lines that are sold at Bergdorf-Goodman. They are also sold at Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, Henri Bendel, Neiman-Marcus and many fine specialty stores around the world, including of course, HairBoutique.com's Marketplace.
The Finest Accessories’ mission is to empower every person to express their unique style by delivering exquisite, tasteful, fashion accessory solutions through The Finest Accessories’ product lines. (Shown above - France Luxe - 1/2" Ultra Headband - Ivory Tokyo).
Not only does Laurie and her team empower her customers and retailers like HairBoutique.com, she makes sure that her company delivers exquisite quality, whether the products are manufactured domestically or abroad. Laurie leads trends, she sets directions and the stunning designs she selects for her collections always turn heads.
The Finest Accessories team along with Laurie and Celeste, have served as fabulous business role models for all the folks at HairBoutique over the past two years. (Shown above - France Luxe Baroque Barrette).
Although HairBoutique.com started with a few carefully selected France Luxe barrette and pony elastic designs in limited colors, since 2002, we have grown to close to 750 different France Luxe pieces in a dizzying array of different hues.
HairBoutique.com is proud to be the only France Luxe online retailer that currently carries the Barely There Barrettes in every available color. There are currently 92 different Barely There Barrettes available at HairBoutique.com. (Shown above - France Luxe Barely There Barrette In Rio).
My love for that first Barely There Barrette has come full circle. Now I have close to a hundred of these gorgeous barrettes to admire as they nestle in their special satin and velvet bins in the HairBoutique.com warehouse.
L. Erickson USA
Celeste, along with the rest of the Finest Accessories team is constantly helping HairBoutique.com expand and strengthen our many different France Luxe collections. Which is why HairBoutique.com decided to add the L. Erickson USA line in 2003.
As Celeste wisely guided me with the development of the HairBoutique.com France Luxe selections, she suggested that I experiment with the spectacular new L. Erickson line. (Image below of selected sample items from the L. Erickson line taken at a recent Marketplace exhibit - Copyright Celeste - all rights reserved).
The L. Erickson USA line was created with a very special mission. Right after the September 11th tragedies Laurie felt a very special patriotic need to support the US and launched L. Erickson USA, all made, as the name implies, in the U.S.A.
Starting slowly, with just a handful of the gorgeous handmade headbands, I was completely overwhelmed with the quality of the craftsmanship and the lusciousness of the fabrics. One thing lead to another until we had over 100 different models, in many different hues, of the custom made, couture headbands, at HairBoutique.com.
Like Laurie, I am always pushing the accessory envelope when it comes to the HairBoutique accessory collections. To prove the point, a custom order was placed several weeks ago for the hot new L. Erickson Charmeuse Sash Belts in a variety of colors (as featured in the March edition of InStyle Magazine).
These made-to-order beauties will be added to the HairBoutique Marketplace in the beginning of March as we expand our accessory boundaries to include sashes, belts and bags.
If Laurie decides someday to branch out into shoes or other accessories I can promise you that HairBoutique.com will follow right behind her and sign up for all of her daring new collections. Did I mention that Laurie sets trends?
Laurie Erickson's vision behind the amazing success of The Finest Accessories, Inc. centers around her own personal passion for creating and sharing beautiful hair accessories with women around the world.
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- Revised Publication Date: 02/19/10
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