Fashion fades, style is eternal is an apt motto for our NJMOMprenueur of the week, Jennifer Ward, a former fashion magazine merchandising editor who’s always had a knack for tracking down style. When she couldn’t find fashionable accessories in her hometown of Bernardsville, she took matters into her own hands—on a whim she bought vintage jewelry pieces and quickly resold them, vaulting her into an idea for a niche business of selling vintage costume jewelry. Four years later, Ward Vintage is booming, thanks to Instagram and a cult following across the country. We got the chance to chat with Jennifer about Ward Vintage and what makes an antique item chic, how social media has been a huge influence and the special places in Somerset County she and her family go to unwind.
Featured image via Cinnamon Wolfe
Owner of Ward Vintage & NJMOMpreneur, Jennifer Ward
Jennifer Ward, curator of a vintage costume jewelry collection featuring jewelry from the 1930’s- 1980’s via Cinnamon Wolfe
NJMOM: Where do you reside with your family in New Jersey?
Jennifer: I live in Bernardsville with my husband, my two boys, ages 12 and 13, and a Golden Retriever.
NJMOM: What is your background?
Jennifer: Before I had my kids, I worked for In Style Magazine and W Magazine doing merchandising for the European Fashion and Fine Jewelry categories.
NJMOM: What inspired you to start Ward Vintage Jewelry?
Jennifer: My parents are huge antiques collectors, so they have been a big influence on me. Several years ago, a friend and I felt like there was a lack of chic shopping in the Far Hills and Bernardsville area. We hosted trunk shows several times a year selling home and fashion items we had purchased at the gift show in New York. Then one day, we were in Princeton shopping, and on a whim, I bought a few pieces of vintage jewelry to resell. The next few shows, they sold very quickly, and I was hooked. I haven’t stopped hunting since!
NJMOM: Your pieces are so stylish and cool—where do you find them?
Jennifer: Anywhere I can get my hands on them—antique shows, flea markets, estate sales, online auctions. These shows happen especially in the summer, so I am up early most weekend mornings and on the hunt.
NJMOM: How did you use social media to build your business? Where else do you sell?
Jennifer: Social media has been a powerful business tool, especially Instagram. I try to post my jewelry finds daily. When I do that, many of the pieces sell right after I post and are shipped off around the country. I’ve been lucky enough that quite a few stores and organizations have tracked me down to do trunk shows. I also sell pieces on my website and by appointment in my dining room in Bernardsville.
NJMOM: You curate every collection for Ward Vintage Jewelry. How do you pick and choose what to sell?
Jennifer: I just trust my instincts. I truly just buy what I like and what I think my customer would wear. Sometimes that means a valuable, signed designer piece and sometimes it’s something where I’m unsure of the provenance, but I’ll buy it if I think it’s beautiful and wearable. It has been fun to see how excited my clients get about finding something unique or one of a kind. It truly is the thrill of the hunt for me. I love a good find!
Go for it! I didn’t overthink my business in the beginning and just decided to see where it went. If you are dedicated enough, you will not fail.” — Jennifer Ward, Ward Vintage
NJMOM: What’s the most challenging part about being a mom and entrepreneur?
Jennifer: Like any working mom, it’s balance. Despite all the challenges, I love that my boys are seeing me create something and earning an income.
NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your mom or role model ever gave you?
Jennifer: I don’t know that there is a single piece of advice, but our family motto is “Kick butt and be kind.” Meaning, just work hard in everything you do and be nice. It’s a practice for all of us, but it’s something to strive for and I think it has served me well in this business.
NJMOM: Name your top three favorite spots in New Jersey.
Jennifer: That’s easy. We love taking the boys and the dog hiking at Jockey Hollow Park in Morristown and at Natirar Park in Peapack. Natirar Park also has a restaurant called Ninety Acres that is a great place for a date night or a girls’ dinner. Lastly, we make regular trips to The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster—my 13-year-old takes art classes there and they always have a great new exhibit. The art history major in me loves it.
NJMOM: Do you have any advice for other NJMOMpreneurs who are just starting out?
Jennifer: Go for it! I didn’t overthink my business in the beginning and just decided to see where it went. If you are dedicated enough, you will not fail. I’ve been humbled by the support I’ve received along the way. The best part has been the people this business has brought into my life.