Best friend moms Sue Kramer and Rae Olmi and their 9 year old best friend daughters Lutece and Tess run a business together creating beautiful jewelry, and giving 10 percent of the profits to charity–we wanted to hear more.
Give us a little background on yourself/how did Marbelous get started? How has it evolved as a business? How much time does it take? When do you guys find the time?!!
Marbelous started on a family vacation in the Dominican Republic. Our girls Lutece and Tess, 8 year old besties at the time, born on the same day, were playing with some clay and organically started making clay marbles. We were all quite impressed as they were quite unique and beautiful. When were got back from vacation, the girls kept at it making different designs coming up with different techniques and then on our birthdays the girls decided to string the marbles and give them to us as necklaces. I suppose that was the day Marbelous was born. We walked around the Slope, and people would stop us and ask if we were wearing “Marni” necklaces. Everyone wanted to know where to get one, including Diana Kane who owns one of our favorite fashionista boutiques in Park Slope. She saw a photo we posted on Facebook and asked us to bring in our beauties to take a peak in person. She ordered 50 on our first meeting and is one of biggest clients, selling out on a monthly basis. Diana kick-started us and from that point onward many stores came on board including Acorn and Norman and Jules here in our hometown of Park Slope. Brooklyn has been an essential launching pad for us.
A small collection of Marbelous takes approximately a week to make from start to finish. It’s an incredibly arduous as we put great attention into every single detail from getting each one perfectly round, to using antique printing tools and awls to make our hand carved divots and “M” stamp.
How do we find the time? Ah hah! Who knows? We are both career women, Rae (on the left in picture below) a photographer and interior designer and Sue (on the right) a filmmaker and both full time Moms! We often find ourselves up in the middle of the night texting each other with ideas or just working on the collection. We are always searching for more time! We feel like multi-tasking jugglers—juggling ten objects at a time.
How old are your kids?
Tess Olmi (on the left in below picture) and Lutece Kramer Guillemot (on the right), our creative directors, are both 9. We, (Sue Kramer and Rae Olmi), partners, design all the collections and run the company together. All of us are best friends and feel it was destiny that brought us together. We live right next door to one another. Tess and Lutece were born on the same day and are like sisters and we have too many coincidental commonalities to name. We feel it’s all kismet! Marbelous magic as we like to say.
What were your and Rae’s first jobs?
Rae’s first job at age 12 was prep cook at Arno’s restaurant on Nantucket. Sue’s was working at Prism Stone Jewelry Store in Fair Lawn N.J as a salesgirl at 13.
How has the business impacted the girls? Has it helped with school?
The business makes the girls feel super lucky yet accomplished being 9-year-old entrepreneurs. In school, many of their classmates and teachers are often wearing Marbelous which makes them feel very proud. They also get a big kick seeing the windows of local stores like Norman and Jules and Diane Kane—laced with Marbelous jewels.
Hardest part about having a small business? Most fun part about having a small business?
Hardest part: managing our time, having so much to do! Best part: Working together as two families, being creative and making an impact on the world in our own small way because we give 10% of our profits to charity which was the girls’ idea. It was one of the main missions of at the impetus of starting the business.
Where can people find Marbelous?
The easiest way to find us is on our website. However, we have many retailers we love such as Diana Kane, Acorn, Norman and Jules, Space in Nantucket, Weekend in Cape Cod, and Table on Ten in upstate NY.
Do you cook much–if you don’t, what are your ways around not cooking, and if you do, what are your go-tos–both for yourself, and for your kids?
Sue: We love to cook in our house. My husband is French and my mother is Spanish so I love to cook with many spices and flavors. Our go-to’s are chicken in a Le Creuset pot with everything in it. I throw in the kitchen sink with some fabulous herbs and spices and it always seems to make everyone happy. We also love to have “around the world” night where we make foods from other countries and pretend to speak Indian.
Rae: I have the Italian husband who is the one who actually enjoys cooking, but because I work mostly from home, it is usually me who is chef. Unlike Sue, I am hopeless with herbs and spices, but I’ve got the use of lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper down pat!…my girls enjoy pretty much anything I make as long as it is clean and simple. My go- to is broiled salmon or a great burger with a kale salad and always cheese and bread. The girls say I’m famous for my pancake balls on weekends.
Any rules about TV/screens?
Sue: We have a no screens/tv during the school week rule but we are lucky because Lutece loves to read more than watch TV or play on a computer. Friday nights is “Classic Family Movie Night” where we watch only classics like “Guys and Dolls” or “Pajama Game” or any Audrey Hepburn or Doris Day movie.
Rae: Our mantra when it comes to pretty much everything is “everything in moderation”, so we don’t have many rules like that, and it seems to be working for us. Having said that, I find with Tess’s busy school and afterschool schedule plus homework, weeknight TV is a non-issue- there just isn’t time. Also, even if I put it on for my three year old, Tess is much more likely to want to read a book too!
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? Preferred social media is….?
Social media is essential to Marbelous so we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In terms of sites we love…any style site, um for instance…Momfilter. We have two special partnerships with Marbelous, one with Christy Turlington Burns and her Every Mother Counts foundation and we admire everything they are doing for maternal health around the world and that their mission is to help mothers! Their site is information and beautiful. We also love Amy Poehler and Meredith Walker and their Smart Girls campaign helping empower young woman everywhere.
What’s a typical weekend like?
Sue: Busy yet relaxed. Lutece has Tae Kwon Do on Saturdays, then she usually bikes rides with her Dad in the park, we try and cook something interesting as Lutece is obsessed with “Chopped” or any cooking show and we try to do something creative as a family. We love finding new stores, restaurants or weekend trips that no one else has discovered yet. We love to travel. Even just for a day.
Rae: Most weekends tess and Marco can be found biking alongside Lutece and Christophe. In addition to that, we love to see family and friends, take day trips and eat out, usually combining all three! True are the rumors how similar the girls are…Tess’s go-to weekend show would be “Cutthroat Kitchen”, although we don’t usually end up trying any of those recipes!
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Sue: Photo albums, organizing my desk, or organizing a music library is the bane of my existence. It never gets checked off!
Rae: Ugh, yes!…my iPhoto library is both my most favorite pastime and worst nightmare- editing and organizing are never-ending. There is never enough time…
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Sue: I have been using Patricia Wexler’s line for years and swear by it. I also love a facial from Pacific Amore in Soho.
Rae: I’m loving a combination of Tata Harper, Kiehl’s and Caudalie right now. Crème de la Mer lip balm is the best. Also Vaseline on my hands, loads of it!
Any small business advice–something you wish someone had told you when you started your business? And what is something you just can’t live without?
Our business advice would be “Anything is possible, shoot for the stars, yet don’t be afraid to start small and then grow.” We cannot live without iPhones or “the square” for processing orders at a show. We do so much business on the go!
Any personal/parenting “a-ha” tips?
Give your kids freedom to express themselves as much as you can. Give them the wings, but trust them to fly.
You feel your best when…?
Sue: When I feel I am working at my best creative level and being a great Mom at the same time. Also a great pedicure, manicure, and blow out—tan and turquoise water helps!
Rae: Definitely those days where you feel you’ve made progress on a current project, been there for your kids, and made someone- a spouse or best friend- laugh or smile is a great day. A great feeling.
Sue: Mere Poulard butter cookies & massages.
Rae: an entire sleeve of Oreos.
Sue and Rae: A good tequila on the rocks with tons of lime…but do we really need to feel guilty about that?
Proudest moment in parenting?
Sue: Too many to name. Lutece blows me away daily. However, I was beyond proud when our girls were asked to be the youngest entrepreneurial speakers at Rutgers University “Make Your Mark Conference.”
Rae: Seeing how my girls love and respect each other. And enjoy each other. Marbelous-wise: When Tess and Lutece walked the red carpet at the “Metropolitan Museum of Art Autism Speaks Ball” and gave our first donation check to the organization. The girls were interviewed and spoke about making a difference in the world. Beaming with pride moment.
Best parenting advice you ever got?
Sue: Don’t listen to anyone. Follow your instincts and wing it.
Rae: For sure that the “mom instinct” is real and powerful…listen to it.
Top image, left to right: Rachel, Tess, Sue, Lutece.