Ylang 23 was my first taste of designer jewelry, along with the familiarity of the designers themselves. As with most of America, when I was younger I didn’t have access to designer jewelry in the small town I grew up in…and when I did get the chance to visit a larger city, I was “too scared” to walk into an upscale jewelry store. To take all those barriers and break them by creating a website dedicated to selling the best designer jewelry out there was how Ylang 23 became a household name. The first to bring jewelry from incredibly talented designers like Cathy Waterman and Irene Neuwirth, now accessible to anyone, anywhere. All this (and much more) was done by Joanne Teichman, owner of Ylang 23. She did this at a time when designer jewelry was only seen by the majority of people in glossy magazines, with a “Price Upon Request” label. Now, nearing 30 years of success, there is only more to come–lots of exciting things happening! Luckily, I caught up with Joanne before the hectic holiday season!
I’m a dabbler. Always a writer and photographer, my degrees were in Journalism & Advertising, but 11 years in the corporate world were enough. When we moved from NY to open the Dallas store in 1985 (then called Ylang-Ylang), I had never been in retail or jewelry, and my ears weren’t even pierced! But it was fun and full of surprises and I got to do everything I never got to do on Madison Avenue — I took shots of jewelry in live goldfish bowls and on flower stems and made them into postcards, planned events for visiting designers, discovered and bought jewelry collections, tinkered with the displays, met the designers and got to work with Charles every day. That was my all.
From the time we opened, our laser focus has been introducing original designers, and also discovering and mentoring new designers, mostly from the US, but also a handful from Europe. Our branding has not changed in 28 years. We’ve called it ‘Hip and High End’, ‘Trendy and Sophisticated’, ‘Fashion Forward Designer Jewelry’, ‘Hot Spot for Designer Jewelry’ and most recently, just given up on the description with our statement which says it all: ‘Ylang 23 IS Designer Jewelry’. The heart of our story is that there is always a sense of experimentation and fun. We pioneered this years ago with encouraging clients to ‘layer and mix’ with their own collections, then years ago ‘stack ’em up’ and ‘pile them on’.
In 2002 a not-so-little-voice-in-my-head said: I had to have a website, it was an urgency! I drew out the pages in detail and found a company to do it and ylang-ylang.com (much later changed to ylang23.com) was born, a first in our world to sell expensive designer jewelry online. I piled our trend jewelry into East Coast Edge and West Coast Cool. Our firsts are endless: Free 2 day shipping in 2005. First online trunk show in 2007 (Cathy Waterman). First with an International Shipping partner in 2009. First in our niche with Facebook Page (2008). Ditto with Polyvore in 2008. Started blogging in 2007 and my first tweet was in 2009. Instagram? Almost 1500 posts later, have no idea when I got hooked. But it’s my life!
I’m proud that I worked on my feet to the last days of pregnancy with Alysa & Jake (I had to be dragged to the hospital to deliver). I had amazing moments with Cathy Waterman — first getting her unlisted number and then the line “Only if you get here by Tuesday to buy for the Holidays” (she didn’t think I could or would and I’m proud of myself that I did despite almost not finding her house because of the LA mudslides and closed streets!); and later flying out to show her our new website where she covered her eyes and said: “But Joanne!!! You can see my jewelry!!” (yes and sell it too!). I’m proud to watch so many designers we carried when they could fit their collections into shoe boxes be so successful. I’m proud to work 28 years with Charles and our marriage is still intact. I’m proud that our daughter is joining the company October 1. I’m proud that our success has enabled us to give back to so many Dallas charities. One moment? It’s ongoing….
Our future is amazing. Besides just hiring our daughter Alysa as eCommerce Manager (she will be our NY office), we just signed a lease to move from our mall to a hot neighborhood location which is almost double the space (opening February 1) and the plans are so exciting. And there are so many more plans for the website. Stay tuned!
How can I choose a piece when I can’t even choose a child? I wear a charm necklace with pieces from Irene Neuwirth, Cathy Waterman, Heather Moore. I have a small chain with an evil eye from Beth Orduna with a custom diamond J from Ten Thousand Things. My Jen Meyer nameplate necklace with the kids names on one side and Charles on the other is always on. My wrist is filled with gold and platinum bangles from Cathy Waterman, a J+C id bracelet from Jemma Wynne, a very very old diamond tennis bracelet from Janis Savitt, and a silk Cruciani bracelet (think high, think low!). My ears are usually sporting Irene or Cathy. Vacation jewelry includes a special charm on washed silk from Catherine Michiels, a Sydney Evan bracelet and a Minor Obsessions from Finn tiny Texas charm on a red string. And a new addition – Jake and Alysa custom skinny band rings from Jen Meyer, worn with a very old signet ring from my Mom. Since my Mom passed away 7 years ago, I like to take my Mom’s jewelry to special places. It warms my heart.