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Name: Barbara Schwartz

Business: TruFaux Jewels, Vintage Costume Jewelry & Accessories

Industry: Clothing & Accessories

Location: Toronto, Canada

Reason for starting: After retiring from my careers as a librarian, independent researcher, editor, in-house records manager and records management consultant, I decided to pursue my life-long passion for jewelry. I established TruFaux Jewels, a virtual boutique of high-quality European and American vintage costume jewelry produced from 1920-1960. I have been able to apply my research and analytical skills to selecting and describing pieces for my website, and to writing and lecturing about the jewelry styles, makers and social context of the times in which these pieces were worn. I am especially interested in the relationship between women’s history and fashion.

Related: Read about other clothing & accessories entrepreneurs here. 

How do you define success? Success is helping a client select a piece of vintage costume jewelry that will make the wearer feel elegant, unique and extraordinary.

Biggest Success: So far my biggest success has been the discovery of creativity I never knew I had. In my former working life, I was (and had to be) logical, methodical and analytical, traits I always knew I had. As a collector, I have always liked putting together individual pieces of jewelry to wear together – I seem to have a knack for finding things at different times/places that go together remarkably well. About a year ago, I realized that I also like to put jewelry together with clothing, so I started my Polyvore collections. They feature contemporary fashions with my vintage costume jewelry. I often emphasize neutral, classic clothing that can be updated and refreshed by changing the accessories. I believe that one can follow fashion trends but do so with a twist of individuality. I think jewelry is a statement of a woman’s personal style in the same way ties are for men.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Getting traffic to my website has been my greatest challenge. I’ve worked with an SEO consultant, who has helped me tremendously, but I still have to improve my search engine rankings. My immediate challenge is to re-design my site to make it “friendly” to mobile devices, which should help with the traffic issue. And after five years on the same platform, my website could use a tune-up.

Related: Secrets of Growth: How to Build Brand Awareness

Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is my aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, who is quite the fashionista and has always personified elegance. Although our tastes are different, she has always inspired me to dress well and look elegant (or at least try).

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