To Top

Life and Work with Heather DeSimone

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather DeSimone.

Leetie Lovendale is a jewelry line born of leftovers.

In 2004, designer Heather Desimone was co-owner of a bead store. She & her biz partner (and mom) were in the habit of purchasing vintage lots of beads & manufacturer’s leftovers from the jewelry industry.

One day, they got a call to head to a warehouse in Pawtucket, RI which had been making plastic merchandisers for the previous three decades. However, they had 40,000 lbs of old plastic jewelry parts that had been sitting since 1983. They needed the warehouse space back & Heather & the bead store staff started packing.

Once they had packed up, paletted, fork-lifted & trucked 20,000 lbs of beads, they were unsure of what to do with the other 20,000 lbs of ‘parts’. They had no holes & were odd-ball shapes and didn’t seem ‘bead-store-ready’.

Having no idea what to do with them, how to set them, or manipulate them into jewelry because they weren’t beads, the parts were almost left for the ‘junk man’. When the gentleman who had managed the warehouse since he was 16, showed her some dust-covered setting machines, a new line of jewelry was born.

‘Leetie’ (pronounced “lee-tee”), jewelry & accessories are made of repurposed plastic parts, which were originally manufactured in the 1960’s – the early ’80s for companies such as avon, trifari & coro. Heather makes them into fun & modern designs, perfect for today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not at all.
When I started Leetie Lovendale, I also had another business which was focused on selling jewelry components & the DIY industry. That business took a huge hit from the economic downturn of 2008 and was the reason I put my head down & started another business that had a broader customer base focused on finished jewelry. We started by selling on the streets at markets & craft shows. This was hard work for smaller sales but got us face to face with our customers & helped us realize what people responded to within our jewelry. They loved the tactile nature of it, the emotion all the color evoked and having it set up (whether in person or online) like a candy store, organized by color for a huge impact. They love that it’s sustainable & made of vintage goods that are familiar but made modern. They love that it’s lightweight & great for people who have sensitive ears and this makes for repeat customers.

However, when we moved across the country from New England to Arizona, the response from market shoppers was different. Our staff seemed almost regionally more popular near the coast. That leads us to really focus our efforts servicing people online & made us recreate the market shopping experience to those logging into our website & online spaces.

Another personal set back occurred in 2016 when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough time & it required me to focus much of my time and attention on my family & less on my business. However, the tools & systems we had put in place allowed me to spend the time I needed to, away from Leetie & yet still pull an income.

The best advice I received & would pass on would be to systemize everything. Down to each & every little office procedure, manufacturing detail & item on your daily to-do list. This does 2 things: First, it allows you to train & implement a team for emergency situations where your attention might be called away. Second, it allows you to train & implement a team quickly when an opportunity for growth presents itself.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Leetie Lovendale – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
We are known for & proud of the fact that our jewelry line makes people feel beautiful. Everyone reacts to different colors. Feeling beautiful makes people feel happy & happiness is contagious.

Our Leetie Lovers also can feel good about the fact that it is made of 98% vintage goods, making the jewelry sustainable in that we are not putting out new plastics in order to create our treasures.

Who have you been inspired by?
My mother has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. She has always had an optimistic way about her where she believes anything can be accomplished. I never had fear in starting my businesses (even when at times I perhaps should have) because she taught me there is always a way.

I also have always adored Stevie Nicks. She lived & breathed her music and approached her art in a totally integrated way. It always appeared her music was her life, and not a separate job and I have tried to take that approach & integrated my business & what I make into a part of my daily life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tonia Johnston Photography, Jodi Riggs Photography

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Mamie Wilkins

    July 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    This is great, Heather!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in