Dainty jewelry is a staple accessory. It’s made for layering, with no limitations on the styling possibilities. It’s not distracting, but it adds just the right amount of shine to your everyday look. Now imagine your favorite bracelet and what would make it that much better—not having to fuss with trying to clasp the bracelet or dealing with the lack of sizing options that can leave your bracelet sliding down to your elbows.
That’s where Catbird Zapped comes in. This unique jewelry brand has a service where you can choose between eight 14K gold bracelets to have welded, also known as Zapped, forever onto your wrist— we use forever loosly. It’s not painful to have put on. You won’t have to worry about the jewelry turning, and it is a custom fit to your wrist. Need to take it off? No problem. You can take off your forever bracelet with a quick snip and have it welded back on later at a Catbird store for a small fee. This welded bracelet is a great option for those who usually don’t remove their jewelry.
We had the chance to catch up with Kristin Grisel, Content Marketing Manager and Creative Producer for Catbird, on the company’s backstory and what’s next for the brand and their Zapped services.
Kristin, can you tell me a bit about the founding of Catbird?
Of course, our founder, Rony Vardi, opened up a shop in 2004 in Williamsburg on Metropolitan Avenue as a passion project. She sold hats, elbow patches, clothes, and a little mishmash of everything. Then slowly, she added jewelry pieces as she built a customer base. At the time, an employee she had was a jeweler, and Rony would have them make small rings out of their kitchen to also sell in the store. Over time, it began to peak customer interest, and the brand pivoted completely towards jewelry.
So with the pivot from clothes to homemade jewelry, where does Zapped come in?
We experimented with the welded jewelry concept for years, just in our jewelry studio HQ. Our jewelers would test out everything from welded bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and even earrings. Ultimately, we decided to stick with bracelets because the necklaces and anklets had quality control issues. We tested out the welding service in the annex of our Williamsburg location, and the demand took off for the service. From there, we figured out a way to implement the concept in all our stores.
Why opt for a welded bracelet instead of just a regular bracelet you can take on and off? What’s the allure there?
There are a few great perks to having a Forever Bracelet — though we love a clasp bracelet, too! Our selection of Forever Bracelets are custom fit to your wrist and sizing preference, and they are all solid 14k gold chains, so they can live with you! If you love wearing jewelry and hardly ever take it off, there is something wonderful about having a seamless piece of sparkling chain around your wrist without a visible clasp.
What we love most about our Forever Bracelets is that they provide a bit of thrill. Sort of like the feeling of getting a new piercing or a tattoo, but pain-free and less permanent (in that they can be removed with a pair of scissors at any time). Plus, getting Zapped is a fun way to celebrate a momentous occasion or relationship – they are the ultimate friendship bracelets. For instance, we have a lot of mothers and daughters coming in to get Zapped together on and around Mother’s Day! It’s a nice little reminder of that special person in your life.
Are your products still made in-house, or do you outsource?
Our headquarters are in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. So everything is manufactured in Brooklyn. There are around 50 full-time jewelers who make everything from start to finish—from sourcing, raw materials, polishing, and then at the very end, we send them down to the web warehouse where everything is packed and shipped. It’s really special to be a part of a company that’s expanded and still can maintain closeness over its manufacturing.
You have several locations from Brooklyn to Soho, and I know you often do pop-ups. Is there a market for Zapped bracelets outside NYC?
There definitely is a market. We’ve done pop-ups in LA, Austin, and Chicago. We have our little glass elevator pop-up in Rockefeller currently. And we’re planning our 2nd pop-up in LA for this June. LA has always been huge for us. We partnered with Reformation for one and then Violet Gray for the other. The line was wrapped around the block for the welding service. It was crazy.
So with all the outside demand, do you see Catbird opening up shop permanently in other cities?
That’s a good question. Never say never. We’re pretty glued to our New York base. And the pop-ups that we’ve done have always been very successful. But I think, for the time being, we’ll probably continue popping up.
Any other exciting projects or collaborations in the works for Catbird?
Next week, we’re launching the first chapter of this collection we did with this antique dealer, Vito Yalow. He’s 91 years old and a New York icon. He was selling antiques on Madison Avenue and was friends with Andy Warhol. He’s amazing. He had this trunk that he inherited, and inside were tons of gemstones. He sold some to Andy Warhol, but most of them had been tucked away for 53 years. And his great-niece contacted us last year about making a collection with these gemstones. So we’ve crafted these one-of-a-kind pieces, which is different for us. We had eight different styles for the first release, and when the New York Times article came out, everything sold the same day. Next week, we have the first official chapter coming out, and we’ll also be selling some of his small antiques alongside these gem pieces.