“I would love to start a movement for opportunities in skilled craftsmanship for young people in rural communities”

“Long ago, craftsmanship was taught by a Master to their Apprentice working day in and day out together to grow and create.

“Long ago, craftsmanship was taught by a Master to their Apprentice working day in and day out together to grow and create. There are a few places around the United States where a person can go to a creative collective and live on-site to learn a craft, but the traditional style of learning and thus a lot of traditional skills are being lost. I would love to see a movement towards skilled craftsmanship and opportunities for young people, especially in rural communities, other than “white collar” or “blue collar” jobs. I take pride in being a craftswoman and would love to share that with others.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeana Rushton, Owner and Designer for The Fox and Stone Jewelry a company that understands the value of standing apart from the crowd and focuses on marrying raw organic elements with a luxury finish. Their mission is to create jewelry that taps into a deeper part of our consciousness and is perfectly suited to who we are: unique individuals with raw potential formed and molded by the experiences around us, the people in our life who give it meaning and the intuitive desire to be true to ourselves. Thanks to their unique approach to designing jewelry and creating an experience that is both deeply personal and beautiful, they have been featured nationally and internationally in publications like Buzzfeed, Brides Magazine UK, Wedding Day Magazine (online), Travel and Leisure Online, Grey Likes Weddings and more.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

One dark and stormy night in the summer of 2008, when insomnia and anxiety were crippling me, I dreamed of earrings. The next morning, I sketched them out and drove into town to see what supplies I could find to start making them and sold my first pair the next day. This hobby not only soothed my frayed nerves but helped me earn money while I was in college and newly married. Over the years, I picked up and put down jewelry making when I needed extra cash or something to help ease the anxiety of life and motherhood, but in 2015 I decided to take it full time. Being an artist is something innate to who I am, but along with that is also a driven business woman so making the transition from hobby to business for me was exhilarating!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

I think the most interesting story is how the path I am on now began. ​One day in early Spring 2015, when I was still a very small business doing only local shows a few times a year making wire wrapped copper jewelry, I got a call from someone wanting me to make her an engagement ring. I was blown away that anyone would trust me with making an engagement ring but taking on challenges and doing things that scare me a little is always how I have advanced and grown my business, so I happily sat down over coffee with her to discuss the design. It was through that conversation that I discovered both electroforming (what I called metal-dipped rings at the time) and Opals. She wanted both of those design elements for her ring even though I knew nothing about either I went home that night and did hours of research and discovered my passion. Thanks to her I now have a thriving shop showcasing electroformed jewelry, have made hundreds of engagement rings and specialize in Opals. The funny thing was, I never heard from her again. I now specialize in Australian Opal electroformed jewelry with an emphasis in custom bridal sets all because of my angel who just dropped into my life, set it on a path, and disappeared.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

To this day, every time we go to a live selling event we forget something that we need. Every time. No matter how many lists we make, or bins we pack, we always manage to forget an essential part of our booth set-up and this forced us to improvise again and again.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company tells stories. I was a writer long before I became a jeweler and that desire to tell stories is what drew me to bridal jewelry. There is a movement happening in bridal jewelry right now for custom work that speaks to who the bride and groom are that is taking us away from traditional Diamonds and allowing the couple to share their hopes, dreams, background, future, commitment and love in a piece of jewelry. What makes my job the best in the world is listening to these stories, sorting out the pieces I can include in the rings (typically engagement ring and wedding bands) then building that story into the design and stones. Magic happens when we not only find the perfect design but combine that with just the right stones. The allure of raw stone/crystal jewelry for me the utter realness of something untamed. In a world of ‘insta-perfection’ creating something that is intentionally and beautifully flawed because it is unaltered beauty is a rare treat and I am honored every time someone entrusts me with such a task.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The reality of being an artist is that burnout will happen from time to time. Attempting to avoid it is like hoping summer won’t end. The best way to deal with it is to have a plan in place for when it happens and learning how to use the burnout to fuel the next artistic phase.

What’s hard for artists, and especially small business owners in the growth stage, are the times we don’t see it coming. It’s a slow burn. The endless monotony of the day-to-day business details can cause the slow erosion of creativity. In moments like these, the best remedy is to have a plan already in place. Trying to think of how to relax and recharge while you’re out of energy is the worst, and if you could think of how to feel better, you probably would! So, while you’re feeling at the top, take a few minutes to think “What really fills up my energy? What soothes my soul?” Then write down those ideas for the next time you’ve run dry. For me, it’s reading, exercising and crystals. When I reach the end of my energy I just sit at my bench, look at the stones and let them speak to me. To avoid that ‘bottom of the energy rope’ feeling, figure out what recharges you and plan time to do it often. Weekly or even daily just take a few minutes and be who you were made to be.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Over the years we have donated to several charities mainly motivated by things happening in the life of our friends and family. In those moments we give back and reach out, but beyond financial donations I love working with other moms/females who are just starting out with their businesses, sharing the lessons I’ve learned, and brainstorming ideas for how to grow their companies. I am a visionary so some of my favorite moments in life have been the times I sat down with a stranger and just talked through ideas to help them succeed. I believe firmly that there is room for all our ideas in this world and that by helping others achieve their dreams we step closer to our own. This is at the essence of who I am, the jewelry I create and the lives I connect with.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

Maybe it’s because I am a mom, but my favorite and most remembered life lessons have all come from Dr. Seuss. Sometimes, looking at life from a child’s perspective (or something written for a child to understand) provides the clearest answer. Among my favorites is “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you.” I think because I have always been a little different than those around me that I really feel the truth of this down to my core, and it has become the foundation of my life and business strategy. When I truly embraced this idea of being the ‘Me-est” I could be and creating things that didn’t pander to what was ‘popular’ or ‘trendy’ but instead reflected my own passions and perspective, I saw massive growth in my business and haven’t looked back!

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I love seeing the growth of the custom market and getting back to the idea of craftsmanship equaling quality. This isn’t particularly a new trend but instead a reversion to an old tradition. In the modern world of mass manufacturing being the normal way to produce goods, and the rise of trends like Etsy allowing everyone to sell their craft (high quality or not), true custom craftsmanship has become confusing for the average consumer. With so many turning to “crafting” as a hobby-business it’s hard to tell the difference between high quality custom craftsmanship and junk. As in years past, social perspective helps weed out the skilled from the unskilled but there is still an education gap for the consumer between ‘craft’ meaning macaroni wall art and ‘craftsmanship’ equaling a unique and often one-of-a-kind item created by a skilled professional artisan.

What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry. Please share a story or example for each.

Be yourself and always speak without compromise and with the confidence to be heard because your voice and perspective are unlike any other and should be cultivated. Jewelry is a densely saturated market, but I succeed because my jewelry brand represents my essence in that it’s rough, yet strikingly raw beauty encased in an organic and luxury frame. My passion for uncommon striking stones leads my designs and together they allow my voice to stand out in the crowd.

Fearing rejection is self-doubt in disguise and self-doubt with cripple you.

It has taken me years to acknowledge that I know what I’m doing when it comes to making an engagement ring. I still like to push myself and try new techniques so that I continue to grow, but for a very long time I wouldn’t even call myself a jeweler because that felt too sophisticated and really (my mind reminded me), I was a self-taught nobody who faked it till I made it. It wasn’t until I finally started allowing myself to be proud of the work I’ve done and acknowledge that my perspective is unique that my business skyrocketed. Fearing to acknowledge that your perspective is worth hearing, will cripple your business before it even has a chance to thrive. Give yourself a moment to breathe and accept yourself. Then…

Do things that scare you often. ​ Fear is a powerful motivator. Taking risks like applying for a large art show or sending out PR leads to magazines that seem out of reach can seem scary while you are doing them, but turning the fear of rejection into a catapult of energy has helped my own skill set grow exponentially and taken my business from hobby to the point that both my husband and I work full time from home and gross six figures per year.

Success is different for everyone- take time to know what your version of success is and aim for that. Don’t be blinded by trying to live up to other people’s versions of success. So, don’t be afraid to forge your own path to success. ​ Succeeding in this industry boils down to having a deep understanding of who you are but also having a thick enough skin to handle the criticism and understanding how to wield that criticism into a productive move forward.

Lastly, celebrate when the successes come! ​ As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘the next thing’- the tasks that inevitably follow a big success because our paychecks are dependent on moving forward and always creating new business. Celebrating moments of achievement creates an atmosphere of success, happiness and satisfaction where an uncelebrated success creates an atmosphere of insatiable wanting. You are left unsatisfied if the work that went into that success is left unacknowledged, but if you leverage that positive energy you can push yourself higher and farther than you even thought possible. So, take a moment, pop open that ice cream tub, open a bottle of wine, take a day off, and do whatever you need to create a moment of acknowledgment and celebration. Then kick it up a notch and aim for the next big goal with your energy tank ready to take you there!

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I love seeing so many people in the fashion industry move toward less waste, recycled goods and improved social conditions for workers around the world, but this is still an area that needs work and it will take time. As a jeweler, it’s my responsibility to ensure the materials I am buying are sourced ethically, recycled whenever possible (for instance the gold and silver I use in my pieces is recycled rather than ‘new mine’), and as close to the source as possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Long ago, craftsmanship was taught by a Master to their Apprentice working day in and day out together to grow and create. There are a few places around the United States where a person can go to a creative collective and live on-site to learn a craft, but the traditional style of learning and thus a lot of traditional skills are being lost. I would love to see a movement towards skilled craftsmanship and opportunities for young people, especially in rural communities, other than “white collar” or “blue collar” jobs. I take pride in being a craftswoman and would love to share that with others.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest with the handle @thefoxandstone!

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Originally published at medium.com

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