Jeweler Cheryl Finnegan of Virgins Saints & Angels could hardly have predicted that ABC’s Once Upon a Time would turn out to be her own fairy tale.
The television series, created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and on the air since October 2011, has turned out to be a boon for the 15-year-old jewelry company. Disney contacted Finnegan and in January 2013 she created a dragon crown for the Evil Queen/Regina character played by Lana Parrilla. The show has its season-three finale on Sunday, May 11.
Disney and Finnegan came to a licensing agreement. An identical style sold for $600 on the VSA website with the official ABC Once Upon a Time logo and endorsement has turned into a half-million-dollar business for Virgins Saints & Angels.
In addition to the crown, Parrilla’s character has worn the jewelry brand’s teardrop earrings, teardrop necklace, crystal earrings, heart pendant and fleur-de-lis earrings on the show. However, the crown has emerged as the hero product of the collection, outselling all the other pieces, which range from $98 to $600, according to Mercedes Hart, the company’s manager of public relations and social media.
While Virgins Saints & Angels, which has been around since 1999, was already a $5 million business, and its line is sold at stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom, even the company has been surprised by the enthusiasm generated by the jewelry's appearances on the show.
Finnegan, who is based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, says that adult women are most drawn to the Evil Queen. She says, “In general, the Evil Queen collection has sold better than Snow White's styles. Seven times out of 10 women [tell us they] chose to wear the evil queen crown since it ‘fits their character.’ ” The company also has a deal with Disney to sell jewelry inspired by the movie Frozen; many pieces are sold out.
At Bergdorf Goodman’s trunk shows for Virgins Saints & Angels, lines form for customers to choose a crown and have their photo taken. VSA’s success may be partly attributable to the convergence of two larger trends. The Evil Queen crown, while clearly a crown, can be worn with a T-shirt and jeans, according to Hart, who cites the delicate structure as not overly "crown-like." Hair jewelry has emerged as a growing retail category in recent years, with other jewelers such as Larkspur & Hawk, Anne Woodman, and Deepa Gurnani all expanding into the area. “I like that hair is having a moment. It’s exciting for brands such as Colette Malouf and Evita Peroni. It can be a challenge for retailers because there’s not always a natural shelf space,” says Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council.
As well, fashion collections inspired by fairy tales but created for adults have done well. HSN’s collaboration collection inspired by the movie Snow White and the Huntsman was so successful that the company is launching a collection for the spring release of the Maleficent. The range will include hairpieces, of course, theirs by jewelry designer Margaret Rowe.