Nope, not a band. No, not a clandestine government agency either. Still guessing who or what The FFS is? Let us fill you in: The FFS is the Fabulous Freeman Sisters or the Fly Freeman Sisters or the Funky Freeman Sisters. You can take your pick of adjectives—or invent your own—as was the custom of the friend who bestowed this nickname upon Cheryl and Donna Freeman. It’s been a running joke for many years, and so when recently setting out to launch a jewelry business, they didn’t have to look far for a name. “But really it’s a reflection of our sense of humor,” Donna tells The Window.
The Freemans have years of design and fashion industry experience between them, but it was only in 2011 that they decided to collaborate professionally. With Donna in Miami and Cheryl in San Francisco, and lots of Skype credit to their names, a bi-coastal business was born.
So while the materials they use are often vintage, their design process is unmistakably 21st century. Donna explains that she will often create a design, snap a photo and fire off an email telling Cheryl, “Here’s what I’ve made—now improve it.” A few emails/texts/Skypes later, and they arrive upon the finished product. And if there’s ever a disagreement or deliberation? Mom, Cynthia, weighs in from Minneapolis.
Self-admitted “control freaks,” the Freemans make everything by hand. “Every piece has to be perfect,” Donna tells us. Because their chosen materials—colorful disks of African vulcanite, mystical Tibetan dzi beads, pave diamonds from India and chakra-balancing Picture Jasper—often carry their own stories, mass production isn’t an option. And it just wouldn’t be very true to the FFS ethos, which Donna summarizes with a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus: “Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” With this guiding principle, individuality and craftsmanship will always be at the core of The FFS.
“It’s all about the flow,” Donna adds, referring to her spiritualist approach to designing jewelry. Cheryl likens it to her grandmother’s cooking, with a secret ingredient in every recipe: “Every recipe had an element of love: a pinch of love, a dash of love, a teaspoon of love. She always included love as an ingredient. You can say we do the same thing with our jewelry.”