Summer camp friends and freshman roommates, Nancy Parmet Cook ’85 and Jolie Fries Singer ’85 combine their business experience, creative talent, and lifelong friendship to create high-end, handmade jewelry as co-owners of the luxury jewelry brand Eleanor Stone NYC. For the last three years, they have teamed up to reimagine antique and vintage jewels into one-of-a-kind leather cuff bracelets, and modernize family heirlooms through their Bespoke Collection.
Cook was a corporate marketing executive with an M.B.A. and a career that took her from Procter & Gamble to Philip Morris to HBO. Eventually she left the corporate world to raise her children, Jack, DJ, and Chloe, with her husband Jim. Inspired by her grandmother Eleanor’s love of antiques, Cook began giving new life to antique and vintage jewels by remaking them into leather bracelets. When friends started buying pieces off her wrists, she knew she was onto something and decided to take her hobby to a new level.
Singer, after earning a Masters of Public Health, had a successful career in health care management, mostly spent at New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she was responsible for strategic planning, employee communications, and internal branding. In November 2016, after raising her daughter Jillian ’19 – a senior Communication major in CALS – in Manhattan, Singer was ready to start a new chapter. She moved to Westchester, got engaged, and, as luck would have it, was now 15 minutes from Cook. The stars were definitely aligned.
“I had always loved fashion and art, and grew up in a family of antique collectors, so it was a perfect fit at the perfect time,” Singer said.
Cook and Singer are passionate about Eleanor Stone NYC’s philanthropic projects and give back to a long list of charities. They recently launched their Purple Dreams Collection, with twenty percent of sales being donated to the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and the Alzheimer’s Association, a cause close to their hearts.
“One of the best parts about being friends and business partners is that we completely trust each other, something that is beyond critical for any partnership,” Cook said.
“And, we have great yin and yang. I’m good at some things while Nancy’s good at others,” Singer added.
Both agree that one benefit of running a business with a close friend is helping each other find the right work/life balance and being there to pick up the slack when one of them needs to focus attention on something else.
“The biggest challenge in starting a business like this after we’ve both had successful corporate careers is trying to pull back and say we don’t want to do everything,” Cook said. “If we had tried to do this when we were younger, it would have been more of a grind with self-imposed pressure to make it as big as possible. But, that’s not our goal.”
Singer added, “We love being able to create beautiful designs and make customers happy, while at the same time, doing it in a meaningful way. I would never have thought I’d be doing this, and with a best friend. I consider myself very lucky.”
Cook echoed this sentiment. “The path you start on may not be the same one you end up taking. Always remain open to all the possibilities.”