Tell us a little bit about your passions and how they’ve influenced your work.
It is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together. I love what I do, and it was only in my dreams that I could spend everyday working with my hands to create what was in my head. That dream started as something that I played with, and it became my drive. When I am not designing and creating, I am learning. I am passionate about figuring things out, and taking a spark of an idea and turning it into reality. I want to live my life with the knowledge at my fingertips, and a hammer in my palms.
What’s it like starting your own business?
When something is your passion and the mere thought of doing it is the fuel to that creative fire, it is so fun what can you do! You don’t need a multi-million dollar budget, just an idea, a little creativity, and motivation. I really was able to let the business evolve into who what it is today, and allowing it to grow naturally led to some amazing discoveries along the way. Down time is nonexistent, but when it’s your own business you never turn it off. It all gets tangled up together, and when you love it- it’s always worth it.
How did you get your start in designing jewelry?
I was that kid who was always doing something. I always loved figuring things out, and absorbed any sort of “how-to”, I could. I had no idea that I could do this for a career, it was always just a hobby for me. When The Urban Smith began, it was a table at a flea market. When I started selling at craft shows, I began to see what people were drawn to and I responded. At one of the shows the nameplate necklaces I had made (I think 100 of them), had tangled into a large indistinguishable ball. After hours of trying to untangle, I figured there had to be a better way. Sometimes that idea light bulb is literally a tangled mess of chains. I decided to hang my fun necklaces on a card, then into an envelope, then when it all came together the envelope completed the necklace. It was a merging of so many things that I had learned, metal smithing, graphic and product design, and that became The Urban Smith.
How does it feel to see an idea come to fruition and progress into a fulfilling business?
It is something I have to pinch myself everyday about. I still get giddy when I think of people I don’t know wearing my product. It has evolved into a true brand now, and when I get orders from places like all over the US and then Dubai, Japan, and Singapore — for little old me, it still floors me! I have been building my brand for over three years and have loved seeing it evolve and take shape. I began the brand very grass roots, lots of samples to friends, lots and lots of trade shows, and many late nights! Knowing who my brand is, and showcasing that vision through my designs is something that is not only gratifying, but just plain awesome.
How does it feel to be able to see a piece of metal turn into a beautiful and meaningful product because of your talent?
It’s the true form of Alchemy — the process of transforming something simple into something special. I hand cut, sand, and drill each piece that I make, and when it’s all finished and tied up pretty with a bow it still makes me smile.
Each order is custom made, what have been some of your favorite requests?
The Urban Smith is a brand forged from creativity and delicate simplicity, with a little bit of a naughty streak. This allows me to have fun with the product, the packaging, and the brand identity. I do everything from custom nameplates, rings, bracelets, and custom handwriting necklaces. The handwriting necklaces are so personal and special, and capture a part of history in gold. I really love when people make the items from the heart! One of my favorites was when a group of 20-something boys got together to find a wedding gift for their gal friend from college. They contacted me to see the best way to put the wedding date on the gold nameplate. We added an arrow, the date and then one of them decided to add the Lat/Long of the wedding to the back. I mean, how cute, right! It truly makes each gift unique and from the heart.
Where do you pull your inspiration from?
I pull inspiration from everywhere. I love combining fun pop culture references with high end materials and fun graphics. I am obsessed with packaging and love merging my designs with packaging that makes it sing. Just being aware of what’s around me and drinking it in, and then of course being able to turn it into something tangible. I enjoy the challenge of design and creating, and that is so inspiring for me. When you let go of what the final outcome might be and just dive into that creative process, you never know what can happen.
You talk about the creative process being beautiful to you on your website. Explain!
The beauty in the creative process to me is the process. I find such simple joy in creating something from that spark of an idea, and find the evolution to an actual product so beautiful. The trials and errors, the successes, and then something will just click. Exploring playfully with words, graphics and materials has lead me to the work I do today. I try to give that energy and process into every piece I do, and allow people that order my product that same exploration. They get to choose their materials, the sayings, the cards, and then get to give or get something that is uniquely their own. It is really fulfilling and fun!
How has building your business in the US become important to your brand?
The Urban Smith is a small company, attempting something big. Being American Made is a badge of honor that The Urban Smith rocks proudly. My brand is a throw-back to the days of working with your hands and the elements. It’s an homage to the Smith’s of decades past, with a modern twist. All my jewelry is hand-made in the USA, and all the items are created in my studio in San Francisco. Being able to use all US made materials and to make each item right here in the US gives me a broad creative freedom and sense of pride in my product. ( Insert USA-USA chant here 🙂 )
What is your favorite product from The Urban Smith on ae.com?