Mix colorful country-club inspiration with funky stained glass on bags, belts, and jewelry and you'll get Meredith German's collection of accessories, named Meredith Wendell. German describes the line as something that doesn't fit the mold and "uptown awkward," which reflects her independent, fun, bold, graphic attitude toward accessory design. It's no surprise, then, that before she launched her own design company in April 2008, she worked for five and a half years in the accessories and shoe departments for another fun label: Marc by Marc Jacobs. "I loved working at Marc by Marc," German says of her experience (she also spent three years dressing the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue). "But it was time for a change."
Her realization came right after her grandfather passed away, which sparked a reevaluation of her life goals. She remembered growing up in Lewisburg, West Virginia, with her grandparents, where she often visited the Greenbrier Resort (which deems itself "America's Resort Since 1778"), an establishment where everyone dressed in over-the-top resortwear. And it was then that she decided to strike out on her own, take the colorful inspiration from her childhood, and thus, Meredith Wendell — a name that combines her and her husband's first names — was born. Her line features hand-blown glass taken from the scraps of a glass factory in Indiana that can produce 22,000 color combinations (it's actually the original glass supplier for Tiffany & Co.), so no two pieces are ever alike. The bags, belts, and jewelry are then produced in Italy with solid brass hardware and plated with eighteen-karat gold. Her husband runs the business side of the company, which now staffs five people. And it's growing. She is introducing more jewelry for spring, adding a new animal-inspired piece each season. Leopards dominated last fall, but a recent trip to Barcelona inspired her to use cranes this time around. "I think the bigger and the funnier the animal is always more interesting," she says. "I like birds and big cats primarily, nothing too cute." The line is now stocked at Kirna Zabête and Henri Bendel in New York, as well as Ten Over Six in Los Angeles and Poole Shop in Charlotte. As for the future, she just hopes to keep her business much like herself: fun, independent, and growing. "I think everything's moving so quickly," she said. "It's only a matter of time until everything else falls into place." Click ahead to see what's in stores this spring.