Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Fields.
Stephanie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Just a few years ago, I was working as a consultant in the digital industry as a Creative Director for hire. I had been in the digital/creative space for years, working with in-house creative teams, boutique firms, and larger digital agencies. I’d climbed the corporate ladder so-to-speak, and was finally working for myself. And while I had a great list of well-known clients, I was bored. I felt myself reaching into the same old bag of tricks, and wasn’t really seeing my work as providing “good” for clients. I mean, my work was good, but my heart just wasn’t in it.
I longed to be creative with my hands, and not just through my keyboard and mouse. I’ve always been crafty, and so to fill the void in my creative realm, I started making my own jewelry. After spending hours hunting and sourcing findings for my projects, I began to have the thought that others might be experiencing the same issues. The first rendition of Lovely Baubles was born – a DIY jewelry subscription box. I put my knowledge of websites and subscription models to work and created the company. I slowly gained customers, and each month I sent them materials and a tutorial on how to create the pieces. But once again, I found myself back at the computer, creating materials, graphics, video editing, and more. And I was still running into the issue of finding the right materials for projects. Late one night, my husband suggested I make the findings. Exhausted and tired of searching for findings for projects, I enrolled in Clear Creek Academy to learn how to actually make jewelry.
During this time, I was also ramping down my creative clients, and slowly tapering off the DIY box. I focused on learning my new craft and couldn’t soak it up fast enough. Six months into my learning, my mom got sick. Her nine-year battle with ovarian cancer was coming to a close, and I left school so I could travel back home to spend time with her. I was also in the midst of planning my wedding. So a lot was going on! One night, back home in Colorado after a long weekend with my parents, I sat down at my bench in the basement and created the Mountains Calling ring. I didn’t set out to make it, or even really sketch it, I just made it. I think I knew somewhere in my subconscious that I would have some heavy mountains to climb – and this would be my symbol.
Fast forward three years and that mountain calling ring have sold out in 12 stores across the country repeatedly. I’ve made thousands of mountain pieces that customers wear around the globe. I’ve connected with customers sharing their stories of heartbreak, new beginnings, new careers, family memories and more. Each story kept me going when I needed it most.
I won’t lie, though. The three years of wholesale work, retail work, and custom orders took its toll. This year, I took a step back to reassess what I was really doing. What once was a creative outlet had become a production machine. The time, the cost, and the toll both emotionally and physically was no longer worth it. I reflected on my journey and decided the best path forward for me was to cut wholesale and focus solely on custom mountain ring orders. I also longed for more – still! I went to study at the New Approach School just outside of Nashville, and learned how to create settings and set all kinds of gemstones. This past fall, I launched a new brand, Saint K, named after my mom. It’s a combination of our two very different souls and personalities, and the jewelry reflects that. This brand is the culmination of my passion, where I craft non-traditional gemstone engagement rings and bespoke fashion jewelry. It’s so exciting and different than anything you’ve seen before.
I’m currently loving the new path I’ve created for myself. I still get to hear the stories and create the pieces of customers climbing their own mountains. And, I’m able to stretch and challenge myself with gemstones and fine jewelry – still creating pieces that tell their own story!
Has it been a smooth road?
I’m a hard worker. I always have been when it comes to the daily grind! That continued drive and passion however, is what drove me to reassess just exactly what it was that I was doing. In the early days of Lovely Baubles, I was hungry for growth, more clients, and more wholesale. The funny thing is, the harder I worked, the more revenue I needed to keep sustaining the orders coming in. With an already low price point, it was near impossible to hire help. I slowly found myself competing with overseas knockoffs and their ability to offer less quality, but cheaper rings almost identical to mine. Unknowingly, I had created my own sweatshop with an employee of one and it definitely took a toll on me both physically and emotionally.
I struggled with wanting to provide the best quality to my clients but also making a living. It became a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of. I had initially thought I wanted to grow and be in stores all around the globe. But what I learned was that wasn’t really what I wanted. I didn’t want to be back on the production side of things. I enjoyed the hands-on creative, and becoming bigger wouldn’t allow me to do that.
The crazy times led me to understand what was really important to me, and it wasn’t making the same rings 600 times each week! What was important was health, happiness, and creating people special pieces with memories that will last a lifetime.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Lovely Baubles + Saint K story. Tell us more about the business.
Lovely Baubles now creates custom mountain rings and necklaces for customers. I also still offer some of the original designs, but now on a smaller scale. This new offering allows me to really connect with customers on the perfect piece for their mountain memory or something they can wear to help them climb their own personal mountains – whatever those may be.
I continue to keep the same standard of high quality and craftsmanship I am known for. What sets me apart from other companies is that I directly engage with the customer, and make them part of the process. They are involved in every step of the way, and in the end, that contributes to really creating the perfect piece of jewelry.
With Saint K, I get to play with beautiful gemstones and create designs that reflect my unique design aesthetic. I implore the same work ethic, attention to detail, and involving the customer in each piece. Customers receive updates throughout the process, and when their final piece is ready, they receive a documented keepsake of how their ring was created. People spend a good amount of money on custom engagement rings, and I want to make sure their time and money were valuable and the process was special to them!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think now more than ever, people are looking for a deeper connection in the fast-paced, high-tech world we live in. People come to me for custom jewelry because they don’t want the big-box experience. They want to connect with someone on a personal level who will listen to them and work with them to create the perfect piece that no one else will have.
I’ve seen a trend of moving away from white diamonds, and I’m all for it. We could go into length about why they became popular, the pros and cons of that, etc. but that would be a completely whole interview on its own! I started Saint K because I wanted to create jewelry that had my own personal style attached to it. While I did see different stones being used, I didn’t see much difference in the way they being used from jeweler to another. I want my settings to be just as unique as the stone. And that’s where I stand apart.
I see the future of jewelry as really connecting with the customer on a personal level. I see more and more people going the custom route, and the stats show that. It’s exciting!
- Website: www.lovelybaubles.com / www.lovesaintk.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
- Instagram: @_lovelybaubles_ / @lovesaintk
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lovelybaubles / https://www.facebook.com/lovesaintk
- Twitter: @lilsooner