What a Long Not-So-Strange Trip It’s Been

By Crispina ffrench

Do you have a friend who just ‘gets’ you and calls your bluff when you need them to?

Jill Schwartz of Elements/Jill Schwartz and I share this kind of magical connection.

We first met at the New York International Gift show, in 1993, Jill was walking by my tucked away back corner booth, stopped dead in her tracks and stared for a minute.  In that moment, I noticed her and loved her handmade, creative look - a mash up of subtle patterned layers paired with vintage lace and ribbons yet her crisp NYC design sense was clear.
She introduced herself and shared how recently when strolling through ABC Carpet and Home, she had fallen in love with, and PURCHASED one of my baby blankets for her baby boy, Wyatt. 

I was so flattered, cause buying retail is a huge compliment when your livelihood is based on selling at wholesale shows.

 Jill in her new studio (2023) after imbuing what was a ho-him space with her magical creative rabbithole vibe

My baby boy, Ben, was three months old, it was my first show as a mom.  Wyatt, born in June, was 6 months older and Jill, with just this little-bit more experience being a mom made me know that I could hit my stride as a business person AND a mom too.

We hit it off right away.

Her gift show booth was just around the corner from mine!  We became fast friends and have been close ever since.

She taught me how to be an urban mom managing stroller, bags, kids, stairs, the subway, and tradeshows.  

We share a deep love for live music and dancing like no one is watching.  Our shared adventures include countless shows… The Grateful Dead, Soul Collective, hanging in the greenroom with Olu Dara, Nora Jones playing for an audience of 80, Dancing our faces off at The Wetlands, CBGBs, the Knitting Factory, raising our boys and running our businesses.

Right before Wyatt’s baby brother, Cooper came into the world Jill and her family moved from NYC to The Berkshires.  Whooot Woot!  My hometown became home to her business and she lived just a few miles away in the next town.

Elements/Jill Schwartz - gorgeous earrings collaged from her curated collection of vintage and new treasures

Our friendship grew…  Our families and businesses grew

We were together on 9/11.  Getting coffee and chatting and then realizing what was happening in NYC, her hometown, where she was scheduled to be at an appt the very next day right across the street from the world trade center… 

Our businesses expanded and contracted, morphed and changed.

 - We have lost parents, and my kid

 - We have had too many tear-rolling belly laughs to count.

 - We joke about being ADD - while both undiagnosed we are definitely over-achievers.

- We figure out technology together.. and livestream, post, and strategize

 - We go on girls' weekends, just the two of us.  We talk life, and business.  We ski, and hike, and make things.  We love our kids and our partners.  We know how blessed we are.  

This brings to mind a conversation with my dad when as a little kid,  about my 5 or 6 ‘best’ friends.  He explained, that the word BEST means the ONE that stands out from others in exemplary ways… and that really, you can only have one 'BEST' friend. 

Me and Jill on a girls' weekend antiquing and hiking in Accord NY

Elements/Jill Schwartz - A Rose is a Rose Necklace

I disagree.
I have 5 or 6 BEST friends, and Jill Schwartz is one of them.  It has been thirty years since that first meeting in my NYIGF booth.  We have supported and celebrated each other all the way.  
God knows what we will get up to next!  

It was so much fun to host Jill as my guest on Rags to Riches Podcast episode 24.  Learn about the business practices, production, and the history we share... AND

See if you can list the 5 solid ways we share to sell handmade product - textile upcycled or other….

Jill is fastidious and helpful creating gorgeous styled bed shots for my blankets - generously sharing her beautiful home for location

Lots more about Elements/Jill Schwartz on the show notes page.  Stick around, cause there are bound to be lots more adventures to tell you about right here.  
Oh and hey Jill, thanks for all the shared lessons, memories, support and high-jinx, I sure love you a whole bunch.

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