While selling jewellery in a spa boutique, a friend gave Kristen Ross the nudge to start designing her own jewellery. Ross began making and selling beaded jewellery and her product was well received. “It was easy for me,” says Ross. Shortly afterwards, Ross started working with an agent and her line took off.
After two and a half years, Ross was given an opportunity to venture out on her own. “I am not very comfortable talking about my own work, but I realized the customers wanted to meet the artist. My husband said give it 110% or don’t do it at all. Since then my business has tripled,” states Ross.
Ross was successfully designing and selling beaded jewellery when sadly her grandmother passed away. “My nana was a seamstress and had tons of buttons. I asked my mom for them and introduced it into the line of jewellery I was creating,” she states. “I have moved away from making jewelry with beads and I am going into my fifth year of button jewellery.”
Over the past year and a half Ross has gone from using buttons from the 1950s and 60s to working on buttons from the late 1800s to 1930s, with some items from as far as Czechoslovakia and Paris. “They are Victorian metal picture buttons that I find at estate sales and auctions. I call them story pieces,” states Ross.
Bracelets and earrings are Ross’ two bestselling pieces. Recently, she introduced story lockets into her collection. “Each locket has a button from the 1930s and a quote on the inside. I introduced these at the last art show and quickly sold out of them. My gut is telling me they are going to be good,” says Ross. “It is just a simple pretty piece. It is something that can be sentimental for someone. I think people identify with anything with words, not to mention the vintage piece being the button,” notes Ross.
“Most of my sales come from wholesale. I travel to eight to ten art shows each year where retailers and stores come and purchase from me,” says Ross. Part of the appeal of Ross’ designs is not only her one of a kind creation, but the reasonable price point. “Everything in my line is around $30 to $60,” says Ross. “The last art show I did was in Guelph and I sold a lot of my story bracelets to boys who were buying them as presents for their mothers and girlfriends.”
Ross’ new line of “precious metal clay (PMC)” is jewellery made from particles of silver or gold that is shaped using one’s hands or small tools and then fired in a kiln, leaving a precious metal that has retained its original shape. Currently, all of Ross’ designs are original creations which makes it difficult to sell on-line and the use of PMC will allow Ross to begin replicating her button designs. “I want to start making my own components and pieces,” she states. With boutiques and museums across Canada interested in these incredible story bracelets and other memorable time pieces, it is clear why Ross would want to begin duplicating her designs.
Although her designs are sold in boutiques and craft shows across Canada, Ross was constantly being asked by individuals where they could purchase her products if they were unable to attend a craft show or live too far from one of her retailers. This prompted Ross to put her house up for sale and move her family to a home that would allow her to create a dual purpose space: a shop and a studio. “I am finally happy to be in a space where I can have the public come in. I have never had that before. Even though it is in my home, I would like people to have a place to come and do some shopping,” says Ross.
One of Ross’ biggest challenges lies in the fact that everyone’s body is a different size. Which is why she brings her tools with her to every show. “I try to make things adjustable, but if not I will make the adjustment to the piece right there on the spot. I am still trying to find the happy medium that fits everybody,” she explains.
Ross stands firm behind her product. “I don’t want things coming back. A lot of single women say they won’t buy it if they can’t close it themselves. I am open to suggestions from clients and retailers that benefit us both,” adds Ross
Sometimes coming up with a new design can pose an issue for Ross. “I do get that ‘block’ every once in a while. I am a runner and when I am stuck, I go for a run and clear my head. Some of the best things I have come up with have been on a run,” she says. “I always want to stay one step ahead and have something a little bit different to offer my customers. It means a lot to me when someone says, ‘I have a piece of your jewellery and I love it.’”
It has been four years since Ross went into business on her own and she couldn’t be happier. “It is the smartest thing I have ever done,” Ross comments. “I love what I do and I could not imagine doing anything else. I love that I can be home for my kids and have the flexibility because I work for myself. After working for so many years for someone else, it is nice to be your own boss.”
Walk in to Ross’ studio and be prepared to view a variety of beautiful and unique rings, necklaces, watches and bracelets or spend countless minutes looking through her antique button collection, which includes a box of her nana’s buttons she couldn’t part with. Either way, you will be mesmerized by the beauty that is K Ross Creations.
For more information visit krosscreations.com or friend her on Facebook