We met Kate Bowles while at Fordham University and, through the ~*MaGiC*~ of social media, caught wind that she'd started a dope jewelry line and was making the biz her full-time gig. I love a good NYC start-up story and wanted to know more (especially since my week-long foray into jewelry making was a total bust). All of Kate's pieces are handcrafted in Brooklyn using recycled metals and ethically sourced gemstones, and they're the perfect mix of simplicity and substance. Be sure to check out the goods here.
How did Kate B. come about? What was your path to getting to where you’re at?
When I graduated from Fordham with a degree in English and Sociology I searched high and low for a job and finally found a temp position at a law firm in Midtown. As a couple of years passed, I got promoted and was making good money but the whole time I felt like I was being inauthentic. I’ve always been a creative person - writing, drawing, acting - and I remember asking myself, "why did you move to NY if you were just going to work in a very corporate job?" I could’ve done that back in Chicago, where I’m from, and I found myself getting really bored with life working a 9-5. I started looking for creative outlets outside of work and when I found jewelry classes at a local school in Brooklyn called Liloveve, I decided to take a silversmithing course…. and from there I was hooked. I quit my job, started working for the same jewelry school I’d taken a class at, and I learned and grew in this industry from there.
Where do you make your pieces and who for?
I hand make most of my work using the lost wax casting technique (a jewelry technique involving carving/forming essentially a mini sculpture out of wax to be cast in the metal of your choice) so the majority of it can be done at my small home studio. If I ever need specific equipment, I just walk down the block to Liloveve and use their studio. As far as my muse - I’m inspired by natural, romantic yet edgy people.
Have you had any travel experiences that have influenced your work?
I think traveling is inspiring in general. Usually when I travel it’s because I NEED a vacation. I take that time to unwind, explore, and absorb all the experiences I can. Usually when I get back from a trip I’ll be itching to get back to my bench to try out some designs that popped randomly into my head while traveling.
Why do you travel?
I travel to broaden my experience. I’m completely energized by new sights and sounds. I’m the type of person who can’t sleep when on vacation because I can’t wait to explore EVERYTHING.
Favorite thing to bring back?
Gifts for friends! If I see something that reminds me of a person, I usually get it for them. And rocks and minerals from wherever I am to build my collection.
I think a ton of people would hear about what you do and think, “damn, I wish I could do that.” What would you say to them and what’s been the biggest hurdle so far?
I think the biggest hurdle in any creative field is fear - fear of failing, fear that your work isn’t good enough, fear of making a mistake. One of my favorite things to tell my students is to embrace their mistakes. If I have a design in my head and it just completely doesn’t translate well into reality, I always try to learn from it and say “ok, it didn’t work this way, but now I have an even better idea of how I can make it work, and I like that idea better than the original.” Life is all about trying. If it doesn’t work out, reassess, adjust, and keep moving forward. Chances are you’ll be successful if you work hard enough for it.
Anything else you want the world to know?
I love making custom pieces, especially if a client has their own stone that has symbolic or emotional value. Designing and building a setting around this object and seeing the smile on my client’s face the end of the day - that’s why I do this.