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Ylang 23: Joanne & Alysa Teichman

When we started The Stone Set, Ylang 23 was the gold standard of jewelry selling and discovering new designers. They were first to introduce and revolutionize e-commerce in the fine jewelry world and we had long admired their forward-thinking, championing of new talent, philanthropy, and uncompromising eye for quality. We hoped we’d get to know the Teichman family behind the incredible business. Then, Joanne and Charles Teichman and their daughter Alysa Teichman discovered The Stone Set and made it to us first, becoming true supporters and fast friends.

Alysa Teichman and I met and it was kismet. We bonded over lunches in SoHo to Dallas to Las Vegas. We both are marketers and love big, bold ideas, and were raised with a love of family, Jewish traditions, and all things jewelry. Emerald and I had grand plans to make it to Dallas together and photograph Ylang 23, but life always got in the way. Whether it was an appreciative email or invitation to cocktail hour at Couture, they’ve always made us feel welcome in the tight-knit jewelry industry.

When this pandemic hit, we saw it as the perfect time to create a special story celebrating their love of jewelry and mother-daughter bond. Alysa and Joanne captured all of the photos themselves in quarantine, no small feat! We hope you enjoy their insights, lessons, history, and jewelry lineup as much as we do. -Jenna Wise for The Stone Set

How’s it going in this new normal? What’s giving you comfort?
Alysa Teichman: I have finally adjusted to the new normal. Most days I feel really positive – the idea that this moment in time will make me stronger and define my character in ways I do not yet understand brings me a lot of light. Of course my heart aches for humanity and the great loss, plus the smaller things like not being able to see my friends or my Ylang 23 family regularly. I’m finding comfort in long walks with my westie Mac (quarantine partner in crime), my wine collection which reminds me of family trips to wine country, FaceTime calls with my friends who live all over the place, aggressive exercise (a combo of virtual sessions with my trainer, runs on the Katy Trail, and rides on my new Peloton toy), and ice cream every night.

Joanne Teichman: I think I started the ice cream every night and make mine dark chocolate! I adjusted quickly. Stress has always energized me, and I’ve been working at my highest creative levels ever since Mid-March, trying to find solutions to every challenge. I’m up earlier and to bed later, and am energized to work as hard as I can to ensure that our business succeeds, not just for us, but for the lives of our Team 23 who we treasure, so that is my main motivation. My tiny nuclear family of Charles, Alysa, Jake, and his girlfriend Taylor give me comfort and my house which survived October’s tornado gives me a sense of well-being, especially my kitchen.

Walk us through how you started Ylang23, Joanne. How has the industry changed vs when you started?
Joanne: For me, it was by accident. I was in the post-Mad Men advertising era on Madison Avenue, and we moved to Dallas, as Charles was building the Dallas store. In the midst of interviewing at ad agencies, I came home one day and shocked him by saying I did not want to do that (advertising) anymore. He was in shock; it was our only income. I love our jewelry industry and love how it’s changed to incorporate more technology. I’m a photographer and am a creative and forward thinker and was an early adapter of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and of course, launching our website in 1999 before practically anyone else.

I pushed Charles along the way to fund iPhone app and iPad apps and was thrilled to put (the now defunct) Polyvore in my arsenal, that was so much fun! Pinterest? We have been at it for a long, long time. I have bought so many cameras, from an old college Nikon to a Mavica which I used decades ago in Cathy Waterman’s Studio (read about it in my now neglected blog, Joanne’s Eye) to various expensive digital cameras, many impulsively bought at Colette in Paris. Of course, the best camera is the one you have with you, so I now photograph everything with my iPhone and iPad.

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How are you approaching jewelry and business in quarantine?
Alysa: I’m feeling very creative. I am a dreamer and idea-generator, and it’s fun to have the time and bandwidth to start digging into some of those ideas that have been in hibernation. I’m listening a lot – to our team, designers, clients, and the many people across industries who know more than I do. And I am doing my very best to lead our team with empathy and follow my intuition in these times. I am so lucky to have the most amazing sounding boards in my parents, and I feel like together we have been in lockstep with our approach to leading our company since we moved out of our store six weeks ago, a painful but necessary step forward. I’m happy to say that we moved back in last Friday for curbside pickup.

Joanne: We never lost a beat in our mission to make women happy through the joy of jewelry. I’m an idea-generator and doer, especially when it comes to our website and customer service and have taken that to the next level. I have had more conversations, texts, emails, and IG’s with our clients than ever before, and love surprising them with gifties, my soon to be famous Happy Birthday song, and just listening. And I have talked to so many of our designers. If there is any silver lining in this, it is that our tight team has gotten even tighter, with new lines of communication (we now can’t live without Slack) and systems which we will keep going forward.

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Alysa, what’s your your foray into IG Live been like? We watch daily and can’t get enough!
Alysa: Let’s just say that I’m getting more and more comfortable with the concept of being on camera! I am definitely more used to being behind the camera than in front of it, but I think that our customers appreciate our all hands on deck approach and my perspective on the jewelry plus my relationships with our amazing family of designers. Plus being on IG Live and IG TV so often through our channels holds me accountable to putting real clothes and makeup on…something tells me I’m not going to be off the hook once this is all over!

Joanne: I’m so proud of her. Alysa interviewed Cathy Waterman yesterday (May 5) on IG Live and it shocked the jewelry world, as Cathy is so so private. I credit Alysa, along with Cathy’s daughter (and Alysa’s partner-in-crime) Claire for pulling that off!

What jewelry is currently go-to? What pieces are you always wearing?
Alysa: I have lots of go-tos…as you’ve probably noticed, I’m very adorned!

Things I have not taken off since before quarantine. On my hands: Carolina Bucci Moonbow bracelet that Carolina strung for me when she was in Dallas, Cathy Waterman Eiffel Tower bracelet which was a gift from Cathy and a nod to my French half, Jacquie Aiche finger bracelet which Jacquie put on my hand the first time I visited her studio, Suzanne Kalan Fireworks bangle my Mom gifted me as we were with Suzanne and Patile placing our first order, Sydney Evan Hamsa on red beads a gift from designer Rosanne that my whole family has, Redline heart on lucky red string, Ileana Makri evil eye, Ten Thousand Things cast line bracelet, Marla Aaron baby lock on handmade biker chain, Irene Neuwirth Opal bracelet, Cartier Panthere watch that was a push present my dad gave my mom when she had me.

On my neck: Irene Neuwirth opal heart and beads, Jacquie Aiche Lizette Tennis Necklace.

On my ears: I have 13 piercings and many mismatched earrings by Maria Tash, Sydney Evan, Jacquie Aiche, Jennifer Meyer, and Celine Daoust.

Things I add before I leave the house: Rings (most notably my Cathy Waterman Love ring which was my 30th birthday gift from my parents and a Ten Thousand Things Tanzanite ring with a stone I got in Tanzania in 2010) and necklaces (most notably my Lito green eye, Foundrae large dream medallion with my grandmother’s antique coin soldered onto the necklace, a Retrouvai Truth pendant with an intaglio pig the designer Kirsty gave me for my birthday this year, a Marla Aaron Hand-Engraved Lock, a Marlo Laz Porte Bonheur necklace, a Ten Thousand Things sleeping beauty turquoise pendant, always my Carolina Bucci Rainbow or Moonbow forte bead necklace, a Jen Meyer open heart pendant, and my Cathy Waterman fossilized acorn pendant).

Joanne: I’ve definitely lightened up at home, but am ready to bust out to my normal favorites, all worn together, much to my husband Charles’ chagrin:

Ears: I now have 8 piercings. I sleep in my Raphael Canot set free diamond hoops, the blackened version (I got the first pair before we even placed our order!); Maria Tash diamond hoops, dots and a Lotus, Celine Daoust studs and Celestial drops, and switch out my main holes between my favorite Cathy Waterman Falling Leaf Diamond Earrings, Irene Neuwirth Turquoise Leaf Earrings, 4 Petal Earrings or tiny Pave Marquis drops (all gifts from the designer), and my newest obsession, Marlo Laz Spiked Diamond Heart Drops.

My neck is really a mess. I sleep in my Kataoka diamond fringe chain and Cathy Waterman violet. Then the party gets started with My Retrouvai Onyx Grandfather Compass, Jennifer Meyer Good Luck Pendant (a treasured gift from Jen from years ago), Lito Eye, Jacquie Aiche Opal Inlay Kite Necklace, Ten Thousand Things Carved Trade Beads, Irene Carved Flower and Irene Aqua Crystal, Foundrae 36” Large Strength, Carolina Bucci Beads with a few Waterman Charms, Marla Aaron Star on a Chain, my Mother’s Gold Spinning Globe from her charm bracelet on a chain, and my Suzanne Kalan Diamond Baguette Tennis Necklace. Am I missing anything? Oh! I forgot my prized Suzanne Kalan Baguette Diamond Headband, which I wear all the time, because who needs an occasion to feel like a Queen?

My go-to for rings is my Cathy Waterman Wide Initials Band, my Grandmother’s Signet ring, my Father’s wedding band and my own engagement Cartier rolling ring and Diamond Band. For outings where I “want to take my Mom” I wear her most gorgeous Aquamarine Solitaire with Diamonds.

My bracelets include Sydney Evan’s Hamsa on Coral beads, my Suzanne Kalan diamond Baguettes cuff, a Nouvel Heritage Dinner Date Mood bangle, a handmade chain by Ten Thousand Things, a Friendship platinum leaf bracelet (one of many gifts from Cathy Waterman), a tiny Ileana Makri corded bracelet and a slim Cartier Love bracelet. I often add my Cathy Waterman name bracelet which is heavy 22 karat gold and has my kids’ names and wedding date (11.23.80) in platinum and diamonds and some of her bangles including the Platinum Wheat Bangle. I wear often my Mom’s most beautiful mesh filigree bracelet with has a lucky clover hanging off the clasp.

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You’re the best adorned ladies. Dare we ask what’s on your wishlist?
Alysa: An Irene Neuwirth hand-carved pet pendant with my dog Mac (@sirpaulmacthepup), Pamela Love earrings for my newest piercings that I’ll be getting after quarantine, a Dinh Van handcuff bracelet, a Marlo Laz En Route cuff to remind me of all the personal development I experienced during this time.

Joanne: After all these years, I still have a wishlist! I’ve never had a solitaire! I have a gorgeous Tanzanite stone Charles bought me on our trip to Tanzania 10 years ago which has been in the Vault and I’m deciding how I want it set. I can never have enough Cathy Waterman, and I already have so much that Alysa has dipped into my collection like stealing that Fossilized Pine Cone Necklace, a gift from Cathy which I’m sure she wouldn’t mind that Alysa is enjoying. The gold stretch bracelets from Carolina Bucci and Jacquie Aiche are incredible. I can’t wait to get my hands on a dramatic pair of Ileana Makri earrings from her upcoming shipment and they will be MINE! In my future, there will be more jewelry, because it makes me happy!

Alysa & Joanne: We both just sent all of our personal charms to Cathy Waterman and her daughter Claire to make magic. We were both super inspired by Cathy’s personal necklace and love what they created for us. Total neck parties and the most exquisite stand alone necklaces.

You’ve helped launch many designers’ careers. Which emerging designers and trends are you particularly excited about?
Joanne: I am excited by all creative work and am sad that it is such a tough time for them. Alysa founded THENEXTNOW jewelry competition, and my heart breaks for those hundreds of participants who are facing tough choices and strong headwinds. Now that we have pivoted our business in ways to adjust to this new normal, I am working on a platform so that I can answer questions and have discussions with emerging designers who just want to talk.

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Let’s talk about your mother-daughter dynamic. How has working together deepened your relationship? What qualities do you admire in each other?
Alysa: We are both very opinionated and often clash over small things, but that is overshadowed by the deep respect we have for each other. I have so much admiration for my mom’s determination and strength. She has done so many things that seem insurmountable to me – she climbed the ranks in male-dominated advertising, ran a business while being the best mother, and beat breast cancer (that’s not an extensive list by the way!). My mother is always so forward and savvy about the landscape and world around her. Ylang 23 would not be what it is today without her vision, passion, and soul.

Joanne: My life has been upended by Alysa joining the business. She followed my path in journalism (Northwestern) with a shared love of photography and writing and of course, jewelry. She not only brought her business experience but thinking she could add more value by getting her MBA, she went back to school at NYU Stern, funding most of it herself through loans. Her thinking is so forward, and it’s totally fueled our growth and direction. I never would have thought of or had the energy and bandwidth to generate piercing parties, popups, new company systems, Instagram Live interviews, the list is endless and keeps growing and I love it. We clash over the small things. I don’t listen enough before I chime in but am working on it. I now work for her and love it!

How do you plan to spend Mother’s Day?
Alysa: Hopefully the weather will be beautiful, and we can have a socially distanced brunch in my parents’ backyard.

Joanne: Surprise me! No gifts please, my family is all I need! And our pups.

What life lessons do you live by?
Alysa: Perfection is the enemy of good. This comes from my former boss and mentor Rachel. It is so relevant today when we are all doing the best we can. The more you give the more you live. The best is yet to come (engraved on the inside of my Kim Dunham protective Brutus ring).

Joanne: Be joyful and grateful. Scatter happiness and pay it forward. Jacquie Aiche’s spiritual advisor suggested that I sing and ride a bike and take refuge and treasure my home. Still working on the bike……

Photography by Ylang23

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