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World-traveler Elizabeth Smith curates artisan-made global fashion finds via her e-business and pop-up, Lesetta

World-traveler Elizabeth Smith curates artisan-made global fashion finds via her e-business and pop-up, Lesetta
March 2022

The online retailer offers a curated seleciton of accessories crafted from high-quality materials

Lesetta founder Elizabeth Smith

During a family trip to Florence, Italy, Elizabeth Smith stayed at a hotel with an amazing gift shop. “The shop was completely built around local designers and artisans that were doing not only really beautiful work, but it was uncompromisingly high quality,” she recalls. There, Smith bought a cocktail ring made of pulverized silver by a Japanese jewelry maker named Arata Fuchi and contemplated how she could introduce such highly-skilled designers to new shoppers. “I thought, I haven’t seen anything like this here,” she says. “That was the catalyst.”

Smith had been raising her two children for 12 years and was considering re-entering the workforce and launching an entrepreneurial venture. After the trip to Italy, the Spartanburg native became more intentional on her shopping expeditions, hired a branding company, and contracted a personal shopper in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who introduced her to artisans and helped her establish an international network of shoppers and designers. “Everywhere I went, I would easily find things that I wanted to wear or products I knew that someone would appreciate,” she says.

SoYa ”Alma” sunglasses in “marble black” made in Italy and Thalie Paris ”Apolline” clutch and shoulder bag made from sustainably sourced Italian Nappa lambskin.

In 2018, combining her love of travel, appreciation of quality, and sales experience at O’Hare & Flynn Wine Shop and Royal Cup Coffee, Smith debuted Lesetta and launched an e-commerce site, selling a curated selection of jewelry, handbags, and accessories crafted by skilled artisans from Italy, Chile, Argentina, and Portugal. “The people I work with don’t have shareholders; they’re not making money for bigger companies” says Smith. “They are dreamers. They are people who put their soul into everything that they do.”

Smith’s plan was to grow her customer base by popping up at stores such as Elizabeth Stuart, which she says has a similar audience. COVID slowed down that strategy as retailers shut their doors, but Smith says she’s been able to expand her reach through online marketing and is scheduling in-person appearances this spring, including at this month’s Wine + Food’s Culinary Village. She also emphasizes the artisans’s backgrounds on her website. “I love wearing something that I know the story behind it and the person who made it. That’s always been really important to me,” she says.

(Left) The ”Sea Urchin” mini pendant is handmade in Mexico City by jeweler Sophie Simone Cortina; (Right) The ”Dots and Arrows” belt is handmade in Ireland by Úna Burke using Italian vegetable-tanned leather.

Smith is traveling to Colombia this spring and Scandinavia this summer to meet more designers to add to Lesetta’s lineup. She hopes to eventually open an appointment-only showroom where she can host events and create an intimate, highly-curated shopping experience. “Instead of gaining customers, it’s more of a community,” she explains. “It’s people who want to shop this way. When you want to express your personal style, sometimes you have to look for it.”

Found by Lesetta - The website offers jewelry, bags, and accessories from skilled artisans around the globe

  • 2018: Started with 12 designers 
  • 2019: More than 17 designers
  • 2021: More than 22 designers
  • 2022: Adding four more