SANDY + RIZZO:
The Queens of Glitter
JENNY GAUTHIER & ANNA DICKSON
BY ELIZABETH BEARD DEAL
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Two local teachers—and now self-trained resin artists—have taken the jewelry scene by storm. Meet Jenny Gauthier, an art teacher at Southfield School with a background in architecture, art, and design, and Anna Dickson, a Professor of English at Bossier Parish Community College with a background in jewelry sales, art, and what she describes as “a lifetime love of accessories.”
Their jewelry company, Sandy+Rizzo, began with and is best known for the wide-ranging shapes and styles of large, colorful, shiny, dangling earrings—designed and created personally by the two owners with self-selected materials and art resin, mixed in a proprietary design process and hand-poured into specialty jewelry silicone molds. They are always using and testing new ingredients and recipe combinations. They even make their own custom-blended glitter. Anna and Jenny have different art styles, and each poured piece is one-ofa- kind. “It can’t be recreated—it’s art,” says Anna. “We also honor women who have inspired us—daughters, sisters, mothers and friends—by naming styles after them.”
The duo love to create themes for their art pours, inspired by pop culture, film, plays, and even singers. Some of these themes have included the Beatles, Dolly Parton, Wicked, Wizard of Oz, The Greatest Showman, Disney Villains, David Bowie, The Sound of Music, Taylor Swift, the Nutcracker, and the Grinch.
Anna and Jenny had the support of many friends and family who encouraged them and volunteered to help them get Sandy+Rizzo off the ground. The two also made some important business decisions from the beginning. “We branded early,” says Jenny. Having a professional name, logo, and high-quality marketing materials was important to them. So where did the name come from? A few years ago, Jenny was planning to attend an auction party at school dressed as Sandy from the movie Grease and asked Anna if she would be her Rizzo, to which Anna responded, “That’s the role I was born to play! Of course I will.” They admit the characters fit their personalities—sweet Jenny as Sandy and outgoing Anna as Rizzo—so it seemed the perfect name for their company. Their slogan: “Less Bitter, More Glitter!”
Anna and Jenny also outsourced what wasn’t directly related to the creative side and production of their products, like hiring a firm to handle the finances and employees to support the business.
Since they began a year and a half ago (during Covid), Sandy+ Rizzo has experienced a phenomenal growth in sales. The growth of the business has been an organic process, crossing one milestone at a time. Many friends and family volunteered to help get the business off the ground, and the first big achievement was selling at the Red River Revel. “To me, being local and growing up here, the Revel was always a point of acceptance into the art world,” says Anna. They believe utilizing various sales channels instead of just one or two—art shows, gift shows, wholesale, retail, social media, and the website— has helped accelerate their brand recognition.
Jenny and Anna have captured the hearts of many followers and customers, affectionately known as the Pink Ladies (also a Grease reference if you don’t know), through Instagram and Facebook, always sharing positive messages along with their jewelry. They go LIVE on Facebook (Mondays at 7:30 pm) to chat with and sell the themed earrings to Pink Ladies of all ages who join in from a multitude of states to view what the owners liken to an ‘evening talk show.’ “It really is an awesome community that we have built, and we are so humbled and grateful that women love our art,” says Anna.
“What we realized early on was that we were only going to be able to pour so many earrings, because as an artist, you can only produce so much art,” according to Anna. This led Jenny and Anna to expand the product line to include acrylic options. “They are still beautiful, still unique, still very sparkly, and something that you haven’t seen before, but we’re able to make more of these because we can use our laser cutter,” says Anna. Just like with the resin line, only Jenny and Anna select the patterns and hand-draw the designs. “This is our art and this is what’s sought after,” she adds. Seasonal designs are extremely popular, with hard-to-keepin- stock selections from hearts to Mardi Gras and crawfish to Christmas trees.
While the large earrings are wildly popular, a new stud bar featuring designed stud earrings recently introduced has become a surprisingly instant favorite—perfect for young girls (or women battling masks at the workplace!) at a great price point. Sandy+Rizzo also retails other accessories like bracelets, sunglasses, and headbands to their Pink Ladies. They make a point of purchasing these products from other women-owned brands.
Sandy+Rizzo manufactures and makes all the jewelry, farming nothing out, with help from employees Anna Baker, Kate Wimer, Anne Embry, and Caitlin Lear. “It is very similar to how women used to sit around and quilt. We sit around a big round table and we assemble, so we put together jewelry with our own hands,” says Anna. “We discovered recently that not a lot of people are doing that anymore,” says Jenny. “But we feel like that’s what people really appreciate about it—the art of it. It’s always new. It’s always unique,” she added. (And once it’s sold out, it’s gone.)
As with many startups, the owners’ respective homes were full of supplies, tools, materials, and workspaces. But they have moved into a leased residential space, fondly called the Pink Lady House, to use as their workshop, a space for designing, testing, creating, assembling, packaging, and shipping their products. “We are excited to have a centrally located place that is kid and pet friendly. This way we and our employees can all take care of work and family together,” says Jenny.
Anna and her husband, Michael, have two daughters, Harper and Annabelle. Jenny and her husband, Wes, have two daughters, Ellie and Kate. You could technically say the daughters are behind the whole story. The girls, best friends, brought their mothers together, who soon became BFFs too. The business ultimately grew out of this friendship. Anna and Jenny share ideas and responsibilities daily and each one is quick to compliment the strengths of the other.
Jenny and Anna love the fact that they have become role models for their daughters, who see them following a dream and working hard toward that dream every day. “We’re just very proud that they’ve been able to see us build this,” says Jenny.
Right now, you can find Sandy+Rizzo products at sandyrizzo.com, at the Shreveport retail location (The Gilded Oyster shared with Allison Rhymes), and at several local boutiques in the Shreveport-Bossier area. But that’s about to change. Last month, Anna and Jenny decided to try their hand as first-time wholesale vendors at Dallas Market inside the World Trade Center. Somewhat shocked themselves, they sold their jewelry to 22 boutiques across the U.S., seriously expanding their reach!
What do they believe has impacted their success so far? “We’ve always been kind to everybody we’ve encountered including other makers and other resin artists in the industry,” says Jenny. Anna agrees, and adds, “Consistency. We are always focused on keeping the creative design, the quality of the jewelry and our production processes consistent.” Receiving an order this month from a shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans really made the success feel real. “That’s it, we made it! Our Mardi Gras earrings are in New Orleans!”
The old adage says, “people do business with people, not businesses.” You just have to meet Jenny and Anna once to realize how their personalities and business philosophies have, and will undoubtedly continue, to drive their business forward into the future. It appears that the glittery path ahead may be paved with gold…
Photo: Anna Baker[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]