Every girl had at least two of the make-it-yourself jewelry kits, the bead looms and string boxes for bracelets to sell on the sidewalk for one dollar. For Massapequa resident Lisa Zampolin, the love of creating ready to wear fashion never got old. Celebrating 17 years of business in July, Zampolin’s jewelry company, Love, Lisa, has been sold around the world, with boutique owners falling head over heels in love with her hand-made jewels.
“I’ve been making jewelry since I was eight,” said Zampolin, who grew up in Oyster Bay. “I would go into Oyster Bay pharmacy and asked the man who owned it if I could put my bracelets into his counter. I would leave them there and people bought them.”
Zampolin received her college degree in business management, but has always been a salesperson with fashion flair. Upon graduating college, she became a recruiter, but in 2001, decided to take a leap and do what she truly loved.
“I created my website and I was lucky enough to get my URL as trendsrus.com. I knocked on doors while I worked full-time and that’s how I started my business,” she said. “Max & Gino’s was one of my first customers. They invested in me and allowed me to leave my stuff there on consignment.”
Zampolin recalled one of her first fashion trends: cutting a pair of stockings into a neckpiece and adding charms. Calling them “hot loops,” she went straight to the trendy teenager crowd and everyone went crazy over them.
“I had at any given time, 16 of my family members making hot loop choker necklaces for me,” said Zampolin, who even had popular fashion brand Via Spiga private labeling opaque tights in every color. “I had enough money to go to my first Javits Center show and they were dying for my product because it was handmade.”
Two years into business, Zampolin found that she got knocked-off very quickly with copycat items, which is almost inevitable in the fashion industry. When someone sent one of her samples over to China, although the replicated design wasn’t nearly at her level of quality, Zampolin knew she had to create a new trend.
“I change my trends year after year, and have managed to come up with new jewelry every time I put my finger on the pliers,” she said. “My dad was in the apparel business so I was born into the fashion business.
“I knock on doors and ask for accessory editors, hand them a bracelet and ask if they would put it in a magazine. That’s what’s helped me be successful in my business,” she said.
“Everything I do is handmade and I rebranded to let everyone know, when I give you a piece of jewelry, I sign off on it and stand behind what I do 100 percent.”
Always one to give back, Zampolin donates her Love, Lisa items to the American Heart Association, Catholic Daughters and Toys for Tots. The mom notes that she would be nothing without the help of her family, especially her husband and two sons, who have helped her homegrown mom and pop shop reach success. She has been lucky enough to have her mother and mother-in-law to work the fashion shows, and even her customers know her family.
“I pay my kids $5 an hour and they sort beads and organize jewelry. My husband helps me too, and it’s so much a family run business,” said Zampolin. “I’m surrounded by men and yet they come to all my trunk shows and Bloomingdale’s.”
When making new pieces for her look book, Zampolin does extensive research by watching fashion shows, studying color trends, reading fashion magazines from Europe and paying particular attention to the designers at fashion week every time it rolls around.
“Accessories Magazine is a big inspiration for me. I’m always reading the editor’s and trend director’s posts and blogs and what they’re inspired by,” said Zampolin, adding that more than 4,300 boutique stores around the world have purchased jewelry from her. “It’s overwhelming when you make something and someone looks at it like it’s a diamond.”
On average, Zampolin’s pieces retail from $75 to $100 and about 90 percent of her customers own more than one piece of jewelry from her. Of her current best-sellers, anything with a lobster claw is popular because customers can add charms and base it on their style and personality. While she is more than happy to make something for someone that is already listed on her website, Zampolin makes dozens of custom pieces each week.
“I stick with what works and creating bracelets and necklaces works for me,” she added of the types of jewelry she sells. “I don’t have a showroom so I’m just going to stay online, but I have stores all over the world that carry my jewelry, and a big percentage of stores on Long Island.”
Acting as her own public relations person, Zampolin personally manages her social media pages and advertises through word of mouth. While she has struggled and gone through frustrations, her hard work has allowed her to serve as an inspiration to young people.
“I want to see Love, Lisa succeed and now that I’ve gotten smart and recognized that there’s a face behind what I do, I want people to know that I made the necklace on their neck,” she said. “I actually have a gift that’s inbred inside my heart, and this is about me loving what I do and people loving what I create.”
To view Zampolin’s hand-made, unique creations, visit www.lovelisa.com.