When Lori Frantz-Koenig flips through the pages of a celebrity magazine these days, it’s not because she’s interested in Hollywood gossip. She’s checking out the celebs’ jewelry -- which might have been designed by her.
When Lori Frantz-Koenig flips through the pages of a celebrity magazine these days, it’s not because she’s interested in Hollywood gossip.
She’s checking out the celebs’ jewelry -- which might have been designed by her.
The Roscoe jewelry designer is making a name for herself among the A-list crowd, thanks in part to the chance to give away some of her pieces to celebrities at a recent Oscar bash. It happened when one of Frantz-Koenig’s friends learned that television personality Leeza Gibbons was looking for companies to be part of the Oscar Gift Suites.
“Because of the writers’ strike and the uncertainty of the show going forward, they still had room in the $50,000 gift suite and it needed to be filled,” Frantz-Koenig explained. “Companies pay upward of $10,000 to be able to be there and exhibit their product. She asked if I could overnight 25 pieces of my jewelry to L.A. for the big event.”
Since she didn’t have to pay to be in the gift suite, Frantz-Koenig jumped on the opportunity. She sent a range of pieces, from sterling and pearl earrings to gold necklaces with semi-precious stones. The items ranged in retail price from $40 to $500. They were given away to celebrities who attended the Oscars, including Paula Abdul and cast members from “Desperate Housewives,” Frantz-Koenig said.
“Since the stars discovered my work, I have found that my custom work is in high demand,” she said. “Celebrities don’t want what everyone else is wearing. They want things designed exclusively for them, and I am happy to do that for them.
“This past Christmas, we had many special orders from Beverly Hills and Hollywood stars wanting certain gifts for their family and friends. Imagine that: Beverly Hills shopping my store in Roscoe!”
A former hair and makeup artist, Frantz-Koenig began her jewelry career while living in Chicago.
“I’ve always been passionate about art and being an artist, and I’ve always loved anything that sparkles,” she said. “Put the two together and a career as a jewelry designer almost seems a natural goal.”
She began by selling her pieces at area hair salons, then worked on getting a line in specialty boutiques. That was 14 years ago, and Frantz-Koenig’s business has been on the rise ever since. Her husband, Scott Koenig, quit his job to help run Lisa Frantz-Koenig Jewelry. They have employees who reproduce her creations and others who sell the line at industry trade shows.
Today, Frantz-Koenig has jewelry for sale in hundreds of stores across the country, including major department store chains.
“The first time I walked into Von Maur … and saw cases filled with my jewelry designs, I was extremely pleased,” she said. “Not only were the cases filled with my designs, they had also put my name on every case … in large gold letters. I asked the sales person if I could take a picture of the jewelry cases.
“In this industry, it really is an accomplishment if the ‘big guys’ give you your own cases. It basically means that they will keep ordering to keep those cases filled.”
Although she doesn’t have any formal training in jewelry, business or design,
Frantz-Koenig says she has succeeded through plenty of ambition and persistence.
She’ll spend anywhere between an hour and a few days to create a piece, and sometimes finds that her company has to turn out hundreds of pieces each day to keep up with orders.
And Frantz-Koenig says her greatest thrill is seeing someone wear her work during everyday life.
“I love the fact that celebrities wear my jewelry, but when I am out and about in Rockford and see someone wearing my jewelry, I pause because truly that is who I design for,” she said. “People like myself who love beautiful jewelry.”
Elizabeth Davies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Lori Frantz-Koenig Jewelry
Address: 11353 Main St., Roscoe
On the Web: lorifrantz-koenig.com
Finding her jewelry in the Rock River Valley: Lori Frantz-Koenig Jewelry, 11353 Main St., Roscoe; Crimson Ridge 735 N. Perryville Road, Rockford; Brill Jewelers, 415 E. Grand Ave., Beloit, Wis.; Gotta Have It, 5466 Bridge St., Roscoe.