The ‘Upcycle’ Entrepreneur

Krista Connor

Celebrating one year at her Market Street shop, Cherné Bishop specializes in accessories for the ‘everyday fashion icon’

Class of 2012 University of Delaware fashion merchandising major Cherné Altovise Bishop, owner of the 316 N. Market St. accessories shop Cherné Altovise, is enthusiastic about her store’s approaching one-year anniversary on Oct. 17.

The milestone is just one check on the 26-year-old entrepreneur’s list of career goals, which includes future locations in Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City – all of them based on her slogan of creating options for the “everyday fashion icon.”

Bishop’s approach to designing accessories—for women as well as men and children—is actually a form of redesigning. She artistically interprets the reuse method of “upcycling” by transforming an existing product into something better.

Upcycled products provide the base for most of her accessories and window displays.

For example, Bishop may begin by shopping for vintage items that will ultimately be altered into one-of-a-kind pieces, or a customer will bring in a piece he or she wants redesigned.

“You’ll bring in your grandmother’s pearls, and I’ll change them into something else entirely,” Bishop says. “Or someone may walk in and say, ‘I bought this charm in South America, can you make me something with it?’”

Customized jewelry is just one segment of Bishop’s product line—not all products are used or from recycled materials. She’ll also work on trend and bulk pieces and, additionally, present collection items that are debuted on regional runways and through private events at the shop for customers to get a first look. Items start at around $18.

Not surprisingly, Bishop is passionate about sustainability. She incorporated it into her lifestyle in her high school and college years by being selective about where she shopped, recreating items and recycling. Her store reflects that continuing passion.

“Now that I have a storefront, I also have a great window space to portray sustainability’s importance in my life,” Bishop says.

Inspired by the staged window displays of fashion retailers like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, Bishop says her displays always create foot traffic. They often feature donated recycled goods from other local businesses—Parcels, Inc., Downtown Visions, Bobbi Rhian’s Executive Lounge, local bars and restaurants, to name a few —which Bishop then transforms into whatever theme she wants to feature.

“Even if you’re not coming in, you may want to stop and take a picture,” says Bishop.

One of the recent displays had a backdrop covered with 279 soda cans in the form of the American flag. Bishop gathered the cans by offering discounts to customers who brought in cans, and she collected additional empty cans from nearby bars and lounges. Another display for a back-to-school theme included life-size pencils made from recycled shipping tubes from Parcels. Another segment utilized old fencing from what would have gone into Downtown Visions’ trash.

“Now that I’m known for it, people bring things in for me to work with instead of throwing them away,” Bishop says. “And my customers let me know they look forward to it.”

Bishop, who started designing jewelry at the age of 10, has run the business online and in boutiques since 2008, adding the storefront last year. She worked at Nordstrom as a stylist and men’s department manager before leaving to devote herself to Cherné Altovise fulltime. The shop—modestly-sized with a clean, black-and-white aesthetic—is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

And while Bishop is ambitious, she’s not in a rush to expand to those other cities on her checklist. “Because I hand-make my own pieces, I believe in going at my own pace because I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of my work just because I want to have more products or to expand too quickly,” she says.

In the meantime, the store is a regular stop on the Wilmington Art Loop—Friday, Oct. 7, this month. Also, every third Friday (this month, Oct. 21), Bishop’s store takes part in a multicultural-entrepreneur-in-business initiative, Melanin on Market. This month’s Melanin on Market will be even bigger in celebration of Bishop’s one-year anniversary, and the store will offer sales and giveaways throughout the day on Oct. 17.

For more information, visit chernealtovise.com.

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