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I had been doing the crafts sales in all kinds of parking lots between Berkeley and Las Vegas, when one hot summer afternoon 3 ladies who ran a gallery in Marin county approached my card table and pleaded with me to bring my work to them. We worked a deal that they would come to me and would buy outright. Good plan. Even better, since they were all doctors’ wives and their husbands were being sent to Africa and South America - they closed their gallery - amazingly they gave my name and phone # to their clients who had been buying my necklaces by the dozens.
I soon began to receive phone calls from the Napa Valley which lead to my meeting Molly Chappellet, who brought me to Beverly Hills and Hollywood. She would call and I would jump on a plane to meet her. At one point she introduced me to one of her best friends from the old days in L.A, Glenn Janss. Glenn had just married Bill Janss who owned Sun Valley and she was in culture shock having lived most of her life till then in the midst of everything L.A. So she had started a foundation to promote arts and literature.
I sent some necklaces and she sold them from her bedroom closet (not enough time to mount a show in their gallery). So it became apparent that the necklaces were much in demand. I was told to make a collection and get myself to Idaho - and I went.
In the process of promoting her foundation, Glenn was wearing my necklaces everywhere she went - including Palm Springs. There she was introduced to Nancy Holmes, who decided she had to meet me and the next time she came to San Francisco I got a phone call to meet her at Trader Vic’s. So I went not knowing who she was or what she looked like. The maitre’d knew her well and brought me to a corner table and told me,”Miss Nancy would be right back - she was buying stockings at Saks”. Then all conversation stopped as this beautiful tall Texas lady came into the room. It took a while for her to get to me as she knew all the other people in the place and had to stop and chat...
Nancy schooled me in the necessity to show in NYC. That was familiar territory as I had grown up in NJ and graduated from Cooper Union. However, the part of the city that I was instructed to inhabit was far different than what I was used to. So I stayed at the Mayfair Regent Hotel and Nancy would bring her Texas pals up to my suite after lunching at Le Cirque. She introduce me to Julius Cohen, a wonderful jeweler, who had his atelier on Madison Avenue in the neighborhood and was also “very big” in the Texas world. He showed me how to present my work “on the road”.
1979 - All was proceeding quite well, but Nancy wasn’t satisfied. She finally said that she could show my work to all of her acquaintances, but she couldn’t really make them buy the necklaces. However, there was someone who could do that. I was told to call this woman named Eleanor Lambert and to go see her whenever she said! I did that with my briefcase full of necklaces in hand.
It was a lovely office all pale rose and beige as I remember. Eleanor couldn’t have been sweeter, but she didn’t buy anything and I thought that a bit strange as she obviously wanted them. What she did say, however, was that I should stay by the phone and call a certain number just after noon and be prepared to get up to 770 Park Avenue asap.
So I did that and was delighted to meet Marella Agnelli, who proceeded to buy a necklace for herself AND one for Eleanor...
From that point on, Marella was the first to appear at the hotel whenever I came to town.
- Eleanor was truly kind hearted - she greeted artists with open arms and wanted to help in anyway she could. She kept inviting me to come stay with her whenever I was showing in NYC. I was in awe of her and kept saying no till one day she shook her finger at me and said, ”If you don’t say yes, I will have to stop asking you!” So I accepted her offer and her apartment became my new 2nd home.
Coming in from the west coast, I usually arrived quite late at night, so it was a surprise to find out who else might be in residence. I could tell when Sybil Connelly was staying as there would be a clothing rack at the end of the hall with all the beautiful garments for Mrs. Astor, et al.
Gradually, I was able to convince Eleanor that it would give me great pleasure if she would accept a necklace now and then. It took a bit of work, but we finally started to communicate on that level.