Accessories designer Beth Frank didn't deliberately set out to trample on the conventional wisdom as to how to build a hot fashion business. It was more like a happy instance of what Zen mystics would call 'beginner's mind.' When the frustrated former entertainment assistant quit her job, she says, she knew absolutely nothing about the fashion industry. 'I had never read Vogue, even at the airport,' confesses Frank, 34. 'What I didn't know-like, ah, how to sew, draw, sketch, design-would fill a book.'
But the creative spark was a different story. Frank had a vision: transforming her flea market stash of funky old stainless steel buckles and monochrome vintage belts with a riotous brace of rhinestone color. 'All I needed was the glue,' says the designer, whose retail space FRANK opened in October across the street from the Farmers Market.
Since that glue outlay one year ago, Frank's artsy, one-of-a-kind buckles and hand-tooled painted belts ($275), vintage purses ($325) and watches ($650) have appeared on many of Hollywood's chichi limbs and hips and have sold in stores such as Barneys New York, Fred Segal and Henri Bendel (United States), Harvey Nichols and Fenwicks (London) and Colette (Paris). 'When a rep here in L.A. first called about representing me, she said they needed a belt line at their retail mart. I did not know the meaning of the words 'rep,' 'mart,' or 'line,' ' she laughs. 'I took the meeting. And then I got to work.'