Rock Royalty: Frances Renk
August 22, 2011 | by by byron flitsch | Talk of the Town
When Frances Renk met her husband, she had no idea that she’d be coming into the priceless family jewels—the family jewelry business, that is.
With previous stints as a small business owner, Renk was itching to discover her next passion in life. That’s when her husband, Christopher, suggested she become involved in his sisters’ business, Sequin, a Manhattan-based jewelry design company. “They offered me an amazing opportunity to be a part of something so big,” she says.
That Sequin is “big” is an understatement. The company’s private label designs, distributes and manufactures for a range of prominent clients, acting as a ghost designer for big-name brands such as Badgley Mischka, Ralph Lauren, Kaufman Franco, J. Mendel and Frank Tell. Their creations have been worn by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Britney Spears and cast members of Gossip Girl.
When Renk’s sisters-in-law, Kim and Linda Renk, started the company from scratch in 2000, going “big” was just a dream. “They’ve always [worked with] jewelry,” she says. “But it was a risk for them to start a business after their own successes as buyers in the fashion industry.” Their past experience allowed the sister duo to have a keen eye on what the fashion industry was missing and now, thanks to a unique family camaraderie—one brother provides law expertise, the other, financial, and their father acts as an advisor—Sequin has become a go-to for dazzling accessories. Their success behind the scenes allowed the business to grow further by opening their own boutiques, and the Sequin sisters turned to Renk to head up the endeavor, naming her the director of retail operations. “Working behind the scenes has made me appreciate the business and believe in our brand even more,” says Renk.
Renk spends her days managing marketing and ensuring Sequin’s four store locations (two in Newport Beach, one in Palm Beach and the newest outpost in Chicago’s Lincoln Park) run flawlessly. Lately, though, the majority of her time is spent spreading the word about Sequin’s offerings. There’s an array of styles for any palate, such as the Cleopatra collection, which is adorned with gold and pops of color, mimicking an ancient Egyptian aesthetic; and the Links collection, which accentuates geometric shapes in necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Other styles are created with luscious stones, precious metals and exotic visions, and all collections are inspired by iconic moments throughout time. The wide range of prices allow Sequin’s collections to be the not-sohidden treasure of Chicago’s accessory scene.
But the true gem is Renk’s humble admiration: “It’s an honor be a part of this close family and their business. It’s a loyalty I’ve never experienced before.”
Michigan Avenue toasted December/January cover star William H. Macy with a 150-guest gathering at Hubbard Inn on December 9, 2014.