From the Runway

This woman left her job in corporate America to make jewelry

Connor Bahng | Staff Photographer

Natalie Mafrici, a sophomore economics major at Syracuse University, is an ambassador for Collegiate Soul. She has worked with owner Elise Blanck since the beginning of the brand.

Elise Blanck left her job in corporate America to capitalize on her passion for her alma mater — Cornell University — and jewelry, an aspect of fashion she felt was not appealing to people or their wallets.

Syracuse University is known for its academics and alumni, surely, but probably its most famous attribute is school spirit. The way students bleed orange is what inspired Blanck to start her own jewelry company to bring out the school spirit of every college student. She decided to name the company Collegiate Soul.

Nine months ago Blanck had her first table in the Schine Student Center presenting her jewelry line. With a table decked in blue and orange crystal earrings, statement chokers and embroidered bar necklaces, she presented the SU student body with handmade jewelry and a more fashionable way to rep school pride.

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Connor Bahng | Staff Photographer

“SU became the test market because I have always admired the school spirit,” Blanck said. “It’s a whole culture. I thought if my idea is going to work anywhere, it is going to work at SU.”

That test run soon turned into the real deal. Within two weeks of the first showing, she was asked to come back to present her line during Family Weekend. It was a hit, and is now currently for sale in the SU bookstore.

“I saw that there was a gap in the market,” Blanck said. “I always thought about different designs and things for jewelry. There is so much out there, but nothing in the price point that look I was going for.”

Blanck began this journey appealing to the fashion-forward and ambitious student at SU. She works from her apartment in Manhattan, and all the jewelry is handmade in New York City. In fact, her manufacturer lives right down the street, which is perfect for Blanck.

“It’s great if I can make it work where it’s all happening locally, and I can help the local economy and be super hands on,” Blanck said.

Being hands-on with her brand is important, not just for manufacturing. Her team of brand ambassadors on campus has become her eyes and ears for promoting the brand as well as keeping her up to date on the current fashion and accessory trends on campus.

Natalie Mafrici, a sophomore economics major at SU, is an ambassador who has been with Blanck since the beginning. After expressing interest in the brand, Blanck brought her on board to help connect this brand with the student body. From photoshoots, trunk shows and visits to sororities, Mafrici’s role has established the brand as an emerging favorite for students.

“It’s a fun way to show your school spirit,” said Mafrici. “You have so many brands that are doing apparel or transforming shirts but not many jewelry brands so that’s why it’s so unique.”

The accessories are popular among SU tailgaters, sports fans, alumni and faculty. In a market where class rings take the title for alumni statement pieces, Blanck is noticing a decrease in interest in people making a purchase for a gem that they will only be worn a few times during their lifetime.

With graduation just around the corner for seniors, savoring memories is what is important during their final days at SU. From the days on the perfect tailgate, screaming with thousands at the Carrier Dome or walking across the stage to receive your diploma, Collegiate Soul provides jewelry to remind everyone that college isn’t forever, but the memories sure are.

“It is more than just the jewelry — I want it to be a lifestyle brand,” she said. “I wanted it to represent not only being a student but being able to relive those memories and keep them close to you and have jewelry that will remind you of the good old days.”

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