When Columbus-based designer Kate Stevens began selling handmade jewelry at craft shows in 2009, she didn’t have any prior experience as a jewelry maker. But, as an Ohio University alumna graduating with a degree in retail merchandising with a focus in fine arts during the midst of the recession, she was struggling to find a career that invoked passion. So, she got creative.
After intently watching countless YouTube tutorials, Stevens realized she has a talent for jewelry making. So, she bought more material, packed up her handmade accessories and set up booths at local and regional craft shows where she sold items for the first time as Red Giraffe Designs. From there, she started selling her products online and then wholesale to local businesses.
Demand for Stevens’s product grew faster than her small apartment business could keep up with and she eventually opened her first brick and mortar storefront in Columbus, Ohio. Now, Red Giraffe Designs has four brick and mortar locations around the Columbus area in Short North, Grandview, German Village and Easton Town Center.
“The Columbus community is why I was able to open up a storefront,” Stevens says. “When I opened the store, I didn’t even really announce it. I just opened and people showed up.”
All of Red Giraffe Designs’ locations are part studio, part boutique meaning that most of its products have been handmade or redesigned by the company’s own employees. From snarky stickers and motivational bracelets to bold hair clips and dainty necklaces, Red Giraffe Designs offers a wide variety of jewelry and other accessories.
In addition to the standard line of inventory offered in store and online, Red Giraffe Designs also gives customers the option to order custom-made pieces. Stevens says she has previously created specialty products for proposals and Mother’s Day gifts.
“I love not only creating unique pieces that maybe people wear as their favorite piece of jewelry, but also creating something that either helps them through a tough time or is connected to a certain special memory,” she says. “I think that’s one of the best things about jewelry making.”
As a business owner and female entrepreneur, Stevens hopes to continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of her consumers and encourages other ambitious women to do the same.
“Just go for it and have as much of a clear vision as you can,” she says, noting that slow progress is better than no progress. “I did a lot of craft shows in the beginning where I barely made any money, but usually I got something out of them. Whether it was meeting someone that led me to another craft show or meeting someone that then connected me with another local store that wanted to carry my product. In the beginning, being involved in as many things as you can is going to help you expand your network.”
Be sure to check my Instagram to enter Kate’s giveaway!