Five Years in San Francisco

This beginning of April was a bit of a milestone for me: It’s been five years since my move to San Francisco. My mid-twenties have brought so many new experiences my way. It’s been the most focused span of my life. I’m reminded each day why I moved to the Bay Area, and am thankful that what I set out to accomplish is steadily coming to fruition.

When I left Michigan, I packed up whatever essentials would fit into my tiny Mazda sedan. I filled it floor to ceiling and strapped a car top carrier on the roof, ready to set out for San Francisco. My head was filled with idyllic notions of life in a new state. I wanted to immerse myself in the jewelry industry and I had scored a job with a couture jewelry designer. I was moving to find a sense of community, as well as romance and adventure. But mostly, I was moving away because I had never done it before. I had yet to experience the feeling of a clean slate.

In truth though, those first few months were incredibly difficult. It was a struggle to settle in and to get by. I had a hard time scraping together $650 each month to rent a room from a complete stranger. I owned no furniture because I sold everything that didn’t fit in my car and used the profits for cross-country gas money. I found it was difficult as an adult to land in a new city and make new friends. I had always met new people through school and work, and now my coworkers were all 20 years my senior (thankfully, they were amazing to me anyway). I spent the first year wondering how and where I would be able to create jewelry again. I was out of my element and out of practice.

After those first few months, things began to change. One by one, everything clicked into place. One good friend led me to meet more. I was introduced to the man who would later become my husband. We explored the city. We camped. We travelled. I wound up with a 2 bedroom apartment in an awesome central neighborhood. More friends moved to San Francisco. Sadly, some moved away.

My first great jewelry job led me onto the next. I gained incredible insight into launching, expanding, and maintaining my own business. I sold diamonds, worked trade shows, filled wholesale orders, sold jewelry, launched websites and managed marketing. I began making jewelry again, at first in the basement of my apartment building before moving to my first studio in the mission. I wrote a business plan and when the demand for my collection grew, I left my day job. All the while I continued to make jewelry. Hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of jewelry.

I had once agonized over the fear of meeting new friends and peers. Now, I’m blown away by the jewelry community I’m entrenched in. San Francisco’s industry scene is everything I’d dreamed of. It’s talented, personal, and youthful. I feel connected to and supported by my fellow jewelers.

As this five-year anniversary approached things leveled up again, as if right on cue. I moved from a tiny studio in the mission to a spacious shop in downtown San Francisco. My studio originally shipped to San Francisco on a 200lb palette. Now I was filling a U-Haul van to the brim.  At the same time my husband and I were purchasing our first home in Oakland. We moved in this week, leaving behind that quaint 2-bedroom in SF for a place so awesome and huge that it hardly feels like real life.

With each box I packed and lifted this month I’ve been reminded of my simple start five years ago. I’m humbled by what I’ve acquired and experienced. Some opportunities we get through a stroke of luck. Most we have to make for ourselves. All of which I am very, very thankful for.

SF-Wish-You-Were-Here

[January 2010- Sending my love back home from cold and windy San Francisco]

 

Advertisements

Miles & Memories

This first half of 2012 has been incredible, nonstop, and so incredibly rewarding. I only wish I had been more dilligent in keeping up my site with all of the latest news. Alas, here I am, grasping for a few minutes to catch everyone up on the opportunities exploding around me.

DCandNC 1 (1)

I’ve been fortunate to spend so much time with friends and family as winter turned over into spring. One incredible thing about being in San Francisco is people need little convincing to pay a visit. Having guests visit my city gives me an opportunity to learn my “backyard” even better. Whether it’s bringing home a fresh dungeness crab feast, spending a rainy friday night cozying up with locals at the South End Rowing Club, or witnessing my not-so-little cousin get her first piercing on Haight Street, I’m still amazed at how much my city has to offer for entertainment and inspiration.DCandNC 2

In addition to our plethora of visitors, Ryan and I took some time to fly back east. Ryan and my brother Joseph share the same birthday; This year being a 27th for Ryan, and the big 21st birthday for Joe (though I’m still calling for a re-count. It can’t be possible already, can it?) Spending this time with our parents, siblings, and extended families allowed us to re-charge back at our roots. We visited monuments, soaked up sunshine, filled our ears with live music and our bellies with food and micro-brews.

DCandNC 3

Now as we creep closer to summer months, a new set of changes are already in full swing. A new collection is underway that I’m itching to reveal. It features freshly acquired gems from my Tucson trip this winter and displays a softer side than my current work. I’ll be adding some new stores this spring.  But my most important change is in scenery. I’ve relocated my studio from the basement of my home to a legit, well lit, space in San Francisco’s Mission District. Ryan has been on-hand to document the transformation, so I’ll refrain from spilling too many beans just yet. But I will say I’m so lucky to be here, living, loving, and creating each and every day.

My Engagement Story

The months of October and November were a jewelry-making blur. In preparation for the holidays I stocked my galleries to the brim with their favorite new items. There were custom engagement rings underway. Custom holiday gifts were springing up left and right. Its a tiring but rewarding time of year for any jeweler.

When I was able to emerge from the studio around the end of November, things at the gallery were in full holiday swing. My retail duties kicked into overdrive, and I was so thankful when Ryan announced that he would be whisking me away on Christmas Eve. It was the perfect escape from retail madness: We’d slip away and savor the only two consecutive days off in December. If there was an opportunity to even think about working, it had become Ryan’s mission to thwart it. It was Christmas, and I was finally on holiday.

Big Sur 14

I was able to leave the gallery at 4pm on Christmas Eve, and Ryan scooped me up in a mini cooper zip-car named Moonwalker. We raced down into the peninsula in time to catch the sunset in Pacifica, where I shook off the last of the city stress and continuing on our voyage south. Ryan had arranged for us to stay at the Hyatt Highlands Inn in Carmel, an exquisite resort with an amazing ocean view that we wouldn’t discover until daylight the following morning. We made quick use of the wood burning fireplace, unloaded the gifts our families sent from back east, and toasted with a glass of champagne before calling it a night.

Carmet Hyatt Ovok

The aforementioned ocean view took our breath away as the sun came up Christmas morning. We awoke early, excited to video chat with our families and head out to explore Big Sur. There was just so much love in the air that day. We drank coffee and visited with our loved ones for hours over a room service breakfast. It was overwhelming just how many things we had to be thankful for. We waved goodbye to our families around noon and emerged from the hotel room ready to explore.

BigSur 1 BigSur 2 BigSur 3

Christmas afternoon was spent driving down into Big Sur, our breath was taken away each time we rounded the high cliffs that looked out over a churning teal ocean. The cliffs were ablaze with succulents turning red on the tips, the beaches consisted of rocky outcrops juxtaposed with superfine white sand. Green hills and mountains rolled inland. Even in December, everything seemed lush and alive. We found ourselves stopping off at every opportunity to take photos, to eat a late lunch on the beach, and savor the scent of salty air.

BigSur 10 BigSur 9

As the sun was about to set, we decided it was time to turn back. We began to weave our way back up Route 1 when Ryan spotted a whale out off the coast. He flipped the car around at a turnoff a few feet away and I scanned the ocean surface with scrutiny. Just then, a tail emerged from the water and splashed down. I was out of the car and running with camera in hand, so excited that I left my jacket behind. Ryan grabbed it, along with his camera bag and followed close behind.

BigSur 11 BigSur 5 BigSur 6

We had happened upon a pod of whales swimming south. We eagerly attempted to snap more photos while working our way down the path towards the rocky waters edge. They were elusive, but I was persistent. Ryan directed me to the perfect vantage point upon which we could watch and wait for them to show themselves again. I knelt down to  wait, and Ryan stepped back to take my picture.

BigSur 12

Then he asked me to turn around.

He was kneeling, holding the only ring that ever made my heart skip a beat, and asked if we could share our adventures together for the rest of our lives.

BigSur 8 BigSur 13

He’d done the unthinkable. He’d surprised the girl who’s livelihood revolves around engagement. I didn’t sense what was brewing around me. We sat together with his arms wrapped around me on the edge of that cliff, overlooking the ocean as our whale family swam away. He’d managed to capture the exact moment he’d been waiting for: special, spontaneous, and serendipitous. And the ring? Well, that alone is an article for another day. But it’s the only ring known to make my stomach flip, and this gal has seen a lot of jewels.

BigSur 7

 

Do what you want. And do it today.

 

 

 

 

The month of October came and went. Faster than I could blink, and even faster than my brain could really register. I traveled thousands of miles in the first few weeks. I returned to Northern Michigan to join my herd as we laid a family member to rest. The countryside seemed to explode around me with the most vibrant of autumn hues. It was a fitting reminder of the seasonal punctuation my life misses in San Francisco, where the mild climate never reminds me that today is different from yesterday, and months are slipping undetected between my fingers.

 

I returned to San Francisco and left the same day, heading northward to the Redwood National Forest with Ryan and friends. It was peaceful and the landscape was breathtaking. We camped, hiked, wandered and explored. But mostly, I took time out to observe and absorb.

 

The undercurrent these few weeks was a blatant reminder of time’s painful persistence. Whether marveling at ancient redwoods or catching glimpses of fleeting foliage, the adage of ‘not getting any younger’ was annoyingly on point. As of late it seems every job I undertake is time sensitive. The more I free myself to find breathing room, the more my calendar fills up. It is something I am learning to cherish instead of stress. My work is rewarding, and I feel this path aligning beneath me. I’m lucky to be where I am and should find beauty in every second of it.

 

Bring on November.

redwoods 2 redwoods 3 redwoods 4 redwoods 1 redwoods 5 redwoods 6 redwoods 7

It’s a Wide World Out There

I spent this past weekend unwinding in Yosemite National Park. In addition to taking in beautiful scenery and wildlife, I found myself thinking heavily about what nature means to me, and what it means to my jewelry.

Yosemite-4

I found that when in the wilderness I’m more inclined to look downward. While others marvel over the height of waterfalls and vistas, I’m knocking over logs to see what’s underneath. This weekend I got up-close and personal with every swatch of natural texture. I clambered over rocks like a 5 year old on a jungle gym. This is how I experience the outdoors- and I love every second of it.

Yosemite-1

It led me into pretty deep thought about what is ‘organic’ in jewelry terms. Nearly every artisan jewelry designer will tell you they are inspired by nature in one form or another- ‘nature’ being blanket term that can mean anything from casting live pine cones and succulents to simply using a surface texture that’s anything other than a high polish. Hammered surfaces are considered ‘organic’, patinas on metal are ‘organic’, and even a pierced piece of flat silver sheet is categorized as ‘organic’ if the motif resembles plants or roots. So how is one to be inspired from the world around us without it becoming trite?

Yosemite-3

This question nagged at me as we wound our way through the rocky trails and tall sequoia trees. The problem is that I like jewelry that is organic inspired even in the most literal of translations. But I feel that other artists have tackled and nailed that style- Sarah Graham and Betsy Barron for instance. What is it that I want to take away from nature and infuse into my own style?

Yosemite-2

I’m happy to say that after many miles on the trails, I think I’ve resolved what nature means to me. I’ve plotted out mental notes for a new collection which utilizes natural elements from this weekend and infuses them with my developing aesthetic and style. A mix of meticulous shapes with a hint of wabi-sabi that results in what I’ll give a working title of ‘modern/urban/organic’. Nature’s full of imperfection- and that’s possibly my favorite part.