Three years ago, Sisco and her sister, Carolyn Berluti, decided to team up and create their own stacks of accessories. What started as a fun pastime (Sisco works as a communications professor at Johnson and Wales University) has grown into a popular brand, Sisco Berluti (www.siscoberluti
.com). Though the sisters live in Westwood, stringing beads together at Berluti’s kitchen table with nieces and cousins, their designs have migrated onto the wrists of Hollywood starlets, including Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Greene.
Q. How did Sisco Berluti start?
A. I’ve done stuff like this all my life. I started collecting beads right out of college, almost 30 years ago. For some reason, I was drawn to vintage jewelry. I used to go to yard sales and flea markets and things like that, and I would take [the jewelry] apart and put it back together again. Now, we have an entire line of bracelets inspired by vintage pieces; we’ll still buy a cool, old pin and make it into a bracelet.
Q. How has the brand changed?
A. We are accidental entrepreneurs, because we hadn’t intended to start a business. Carolyn got bracelets as a birthday gift from her husband and I said, “Wait, how much did you pay for those? You guys are crazy, we could make those!” We branched off from there. Originally, we started making bracelets and putting them into sacks of seven, and because we’re a family of seven kids, we called them families.
Q. What’s the dynamic like, working with you sister, Carolyn?
A. Artistically and creatively, our dynamic is amazing. We get very excited about the same things, a lot of times, we’ll go shopping for beads and we can be halfway across the room from each other and we’ll both pick up the same thing. We don’t have to talk; we just look at it and are able to say, “That’s really cool, we need to have that.” We’re very much in tune between the two of us. It’s intuition, and it feels good, and we like it.
Q. What sets your brand apart from the masses?
A. There are a lot of people that do what we do, it’s not particularly difficult. But what we think about is that we’re not just making an individual bracelet; we combine the bracelets in different colors and textures and shapes, and that’s what makes them different. People can mix and match to pick what they want, make their own sack, and make their style intangible.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
A. We find inspiration everywhere, anywhere where the colors or the textures are striking. Yesterday, at Sea World, there was this fish tank with brightly colored fish and a beautiful piece of coral with shades of pink and blue and green and yellow. Carolyn and I are enamored with moss growing in the woods.
Q. What piece are you loving right now?
A. I just made my little sister this really cool stack of neon-colored bracelets with skulls and Buddhas on them, and I wore that out to California and gave it to her. But it changes all the time, with whatever’s new.
Q. What’s next?
A. We have these new beads, druzy agate, they’re a very interesting matte color with a chip in them, and inside the chip there’s a crystal. We just got some pale yellow beads with a little black that really go nicely. The first thing that’s on my mind is fall; some nice orange, yellow, gray combos. We are also working on different priced lines to have a greater reach.
Q. What’s your proudest moment?
A. For both of us, it’s when we can use the money we’ve earned to do something good with it. We give to two charities, Half the Sky Foundation, which helps orphans in China, because I adopted my daughter from China, and Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer, because our mom is battling ovarian cancer right now. At the end of last year, we were able to give really nice donations to those organizations. Carolyn and I say all the time that’s what makes it all really worthwhile for us – that we can use what we’ve done to make a difference.
Jessica Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org