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Noelle Fitzsimmons: “Accept Constructive Criticism”

Accept Constructive Criticism- I think this is true for any industry, actually, but in fashion, you hold your ideas so close to your heart this can be a real challenge. You’ll need to juxtapose sensitivity with thick skin. As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I […]

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Accept Constructive Criticism- I think this is true for any industry, actually, but in fashion, you hold your ideas so close to your heart this can be a real challenge. You’ll need to juxtapose sensitivity with thick skin.


As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Noelle Fitzsimmons. Noelle is an NYC based jewelry designer whose focus is to design and write about pearl jewelry. She holds an MFA from The School of Visual Arts NYC and utilizes her passion for pearls and sculptural elements designing for PearlStoryNYC.com.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My early career began as a bench jeweler, working for a family-owned business in Central Texas. When I moved to New York I began to hone in on my designs, focusing specifically on pearl jewelry- and less on metalwork. That’s when I found my passion, at PearlStory.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

When I was working as a bench jeweler, we sold our jewelry at Renaissance Fairs around Texas. I wore period clothing and ate funnel cakes like they were going out of style. It was strange to move from 15th Century England to modern-day New York.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first began, I relied on my drawing skills to render my designs. I once spent hours trying to get this ring just right- before I couldn’t yet reconcile my art practice with my design practice- I think if you saw how many iterations of this ring you’d laugh. I learned that designers use CAD software to render, and things went much faster after that.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

PearlStory’s founder, David Xie, is a gem at discovering the best Freshwater Pearls. He keeps a great relationship with pearl factories and can secure the most lustrous pearls for our collections. This keeps our quality high and prices low. Pearls are for everybody!

When our company was in its fledgling state, we experimented with a jewelry giveaway in our office building on Madison Ave. I was overwhelmed at the number of women and men who love to wear pearl jewelry. It was wonderful to see people wearing our jewelry every day after that, waving across the room to us and pointing at their earrings or a necklace and smiling. It gave me great joy.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I think burnout comes when you quit loving the journey, for whatever reason, and you quit taking chances. When this happens I like to open up my inspiration again by stepping away from making and taking in the beautiful work others have accomplished. I go to The Museum of Art and Design or the smaller jewelry shops here in NYC to replenish my creativity. To my colleagues in the fashion industry, I would recommend looking to the masters of art and design to reopen your thinking process, as well as each other.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I use my earnings as a pearl jewelry designer to put on free to the public, multimedia performance art pieces in the Brooklyn community. My most recent project, Count Every Second, explores time and its relationship with learning. It has been postponed due to COVID until further notice, however.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Short cuts make long delays”. This is a tough quote to navigate because sometimes in the fashion industry, you need to develop simple solutions with a fast turnaround. A shortcut to me is work that goes uninvestigated. If I design something, I need it to stand the test of time, which requires scrutiny.

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I love that men are wearing pearls, to the point where the fashion industry is designing for them. We’re living in a wonderful time of fashion experimentation. Pearls, like any fabulous trend today, are up for grabs. Men are sporting real freshwater pearls to parties, galas, or just out for coffee.

What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.

Love your materials- Loving Pearls has allowed me to utilize my passion to elevate the pearl as a gemstone. All of my pearl designs highlight the beauty that’s already there.

Harness key trends- But at the same time don’t be afraid to personalize your designs. Read articles, attend fashion week, do anything you can to learn more and more about contemporary design and culture. Then unlearn it.

Accept Constructive Criticism- I think this is true for any industry, actually, but in fashion, you hold your ideas so close to your heart this can be a real challenge. You’ll need to juxtapose sensitivity with thick skin.

Know Who Your Competition Is- It’s important to know where you sit in the design industry so that you can find your positioning gap. What brands look or act like yours? How would you improve the brand? What do you offer that they don’t?

Have a competitive spirit- Utilize your competitors as inspiration. In the same way that you love your materials, you must also love your competition. Knowing other brands has allowed me to ask myself questions about brands similar to mine, and has greatly improved my design and business skills.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I’m very into the transparency that direct to consumer businesses are offering. Most contemporary websites these days present a graph or paragraph on how they are able to keep prices low, what their mission statement is, or where their materials come from. I’m very happy with the public holding the fashion industry accountable for their choices. I’d like to continue to see that.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I love the diversity of cultures that designers in New York are in touch with. There are so many techniques to discover and learn from, that have come from a different approach to design than I’m used to. At Pearl Story, we are a team of six designers, from all over the globe. I’ve learned more from my fellow designers than I can even know what to do with. This is something I wish for the world… Diversity in the workplace. I believe it can lead to great ideas and even better social change.

How can our readers follow you on social media? www.instagram.com/pearlstorynyc

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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