What started as a way to keep a fortune from a cookie safe has since turned into a full-scale jewelry business.
One day in 2011, New York City resident Gretel Going got a fortune from a fortune cookie that she found particularly insightful. She stuck it on the fridge with a magnet and would often find that it had fallen on the floor every day while she was out.
This set Going on a two-year journey to create Fortune & Frame, a jewelry company that specializes in lockets that are meant to hold fortunes from fortune cookies. With no background in jewelry, it took a minute for Going to get her footing, but after getting guidance from the wife of a jeweler, Going was able to come up with the beginning locket designs: a book, an envelope, and the fan-favorite fortune cookie.
“I ended up turning my initial idea for a frame into our original lockets that open like a storybook and hold a fortune. I love the idea that you can swap out the messages inside and that the words can evolve with you. As you learn a lesson, hit a goal, overcome a challenge you can put whatever the next chapter of your story is in your locket” said Going. “In the beginning, I introduced 300 fortunes to the site that people could choose from when they ordered. They were all based on notes I’d written to myself during my journey of figuring all of this out. I knew what the quotes meant to me but realized people were attaching their own meaning the words, and that their meaning was based on totally different experiences than what had originally inspired them for me.”
At first, Going wasn’t sold on the idea of doing a fortune cookie-shaped locket. Going says that she was afraid of being too kitschy with a fortune cookie, but after some convincing, she relented and added it to the lineup.
The brand launched officially in 2014 and quickly rose to popularity when singer-songwriter Lorde was spotted with the fortune cookie locket out in public.
“I was so nervous the day we launched. In my head I was on the floor in fetal position thinking, ‘Who am I to design jewelry? Who’s going to care about this? Will anyone even like it?’ I had no idea what people would think. Then the PR person I was working with came in and showed me a picture of Lorde with our original fortune cookie locket,’” Going recalled. “Getting the Lorde thing was huge, and then we saw that people started talking about us on social media. We started getting immediate press coverage. People thought the concept was interesting and related it to it because literally everyone carries fortunes and don’t know what to do with them.”
The business expanded to create more jewelry pieces, including different-shaped lockets, pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings, and mini frames. In addition to a now bustling online retail site, Fortune & Frame pieces are now being sold in over 400 stores across the country, such as Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, Lord & Taylor, Anthropologie, Free People, and Von Maur, and have appeared on QVC a few times as well.
Fortune & Frame has since grown to where Going doesn’t need to do absolutely everything herself. In the beginning, she was running around the Diamond District picking up products, making the chains for the jewelry, and managing the shipping. Now, she has a team of sales reps that help build relationships with stores as well as a team managing wholesale orders.
“We are not huge, but we’ve come a long way. We’ve never taken funding so it’s whatever the company makes goes into growing it. It can grow itself,” said Going.
As the years went on, Fortune & Frame continued to find success, particularly in online sales. Luckily, the company wasn’t hit hard at all by the COVID-19 pandemic — in fact, Going says that Fortune & Frame’s online retail business was pulling in Black Friday sales during the first year of the pandemic.
However, what Going didn’t expect was how the products from Fortune & Frame were impacting her customers.
“We started getting all of these notes during the pandemic saying ‘You helped me get through this.’ We weren’t actually doing anything different marketing-wise, but I guess it was the quotes and us sharing our community stories, which is kind of our thing,” said Going.
The notes were unprompted and unexpected, said Going, with customers sending stories such as:
“We were getting more of these kinds of notes from people, and more people ordered — we had Black Friday traffic all throughout the first year of COVID,” said Going. “We realized it was because of these notes that people were sending us. It wasn’t just because they were buying online, they were looking for meaning and hope.”
As the business continues to expand, Fortune & Frame plans to release secret fortune candles, which reveal the fortune inside after burning the candle, and Going is dabbling with the idea of creating journals with provocative writing prompts. Going has learned a ton not just about business, such as taking on a business partner who lets her be the soul of the company while he manages the financials and logistics, but about herself along the way while building Fortune & Frame from the ground up.
“This whole thing has almost been a spiritual journey as much as a business journey. There has been stuff from a personal standpoint, big lessons like you can’t do this on your own. You have to rely on other people, which means trusting other people,” said Going. “It can be very hard to learn how to be vulnerable, you have to learn how to say I don’t know. Those were huge personal things that continue to this day.”
For more information or to shop online, visit fortuneandframe.com.