FLEX BANGLES™ by Cherné Altovise (starting at $18)
Available at Cherné Altovise, 316 N. Market St., www.chernealtovise.com
Cherné Bishop was styling the fashion-forward at Nordstrom while still a student at the University of Delaware. She had started making her own jewelry at age 10 when her mom bought her a kit … in hopes of stopping her from cutting up her own clothes to make fashion. But her jewelry biz took a back seat when Nordstrom moved her into management the day after graduation and fast tracked her through men’s sportswear and designer denim, until she was overseeing $3 million in retail sales. But when her grandmother – “my first customer” – and her younger cousin passed away within a week of each other last January, she reexamined her goals. “I felt that if I kept putting it off, it wouldn’t happen, or there would be more stuff to get in my way. So I just decided to go for it. In September, I got the keys, and I opened up this in October."
“This” is Cherné Altovise, a destination shop that offers “accessories for the everyday fashion icon” on Market.
On her signature style: “My Flex Bangles™ are what I'm known for, with my signature wire work. They're lightweight, they're flexible and they come in three different sizes. I do them with initials, charms, gemstones, just about everything. They're meant to be worn more than one at a time, to tell a story. In the stack that I normally wear, I have a "C" for my initial, and a wing for when I left my job and started this -- you know, "spread your wings." I have my birthstone and my zodiac. I have "Georgia," my grandmother who passed away. A lot of people get them for that, in memory of someone. I have another one for my cousin.”
“All my Flex Bangles start at $18, but the most expensive one I sold was $350. It was for a wedding gift, so it had the Roman numerals of his wedding date. That might be a good anniversary gift for you! [Editor’s note: Our interviewer has an anniversary coming up. Cherné was very helpful.] You just don't have to get it in white gold. That's why it cost him so much.”
Also a hot seller: “I have my Serena choker. Again, even though it's in black, you can see my signature wire work. Everyone loves my chokers because they say they're so sturdy. You can dress it up, dress down. I've had customers wear this with sweatshirts and to galas.”
Why you should never discourage your children: “The joke in my family is that I knew Fashion Week before Sesame Street. I used to dress myself every morning. The one favorite outfit that everyone makes fun of me for was a purple or orange skirt with purple or orange stockings, and the sweater was a Minnie Mouse sweater, red, white and black. Those are a lot of colors. I definitely remember that sweater. I cried when I had to give it up.”
And since it’s the season, what makes for a great Valentine’s gift?: “You want something personal. I do custom pieces, but if you want something off the floor, we can add initials to do a personal touch. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but if you make it personal, it makes a bigger impact. Number two, something that blings, whether it's some earrings or a necklace – anything with a little shimmer to it. Who doesn't like that? And number three would be a staple, everyday piece, whether it's a hoop or just a layering necklace or choker. You can't go wrong with that."