I met Kimberly at the enigmatically decorated Spa Noir, downtown Seattle on a Thursday. She was hosting her jewelry at a trunk show that night, though when I walked in she was hiding in a side room. Chicly-dressed and naturally beautiful, Kimberly is a shy girl in real life; she’s warm, and welcoming, but she won’t be the first to say hello to strangers. This is where her shyness ends, however, and as I looked over her designs at the show I realized how fearless she is in her work.
Kimberly Baker Jewelry had a completely organic start. Originally from Chicago, Kimberly went to high school in Spokane, WA where she took her first jewelry class.
“I was very lucky because I don’t think they have those classes in public high schools now. I kind of fell in love with it in high school. When you live in a small town you kind of make your own sun…you make your own art.”
After high school and years traveling, living in Asia, London, Scotland, she found herself in Seattle ready to study. Kimberly had what could possibly be every designers dream beginning: rather than scrappily begging stores to stock her product, she was asked by the boutiques who’s jewelry she was wearing and where to get it.
“Basically it just kind of happened because I would be wearing the jewelry, and boutiques would see and ask for it, and I’d put it in the boutiques to sell…I decided to take a leap of faith and saved up six months’ rent, and gave myself six month to make this jewelry thing happen, and that was 17 years ago. It’s kind of crazy. I’m constantly amazed I’m paying my mortgage.”
Before your eyes get too green with envy, take a look at her designs like the ram ring (left), a personal favorite of the designer. As fatefully as her career began, it’s clear that Kimberly still works incredibly hard to be original and unique in each of her pieces. Though she’s been selling locally for years, and even sold in Nordstrom, she also now houses her own studio and office in Fremont.
“It has a lot to do with your initiative, and if you get knocked down you get back up” she told me. She receives much of her inspiration from travel, books “I’m all over the place-architecture books on art deco, musician books, The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, that’s always a big reference for me as well”, to her upbringing. And it might just be her upbringing that brought her to jewelry in the first place.
“[Growing up] my mother and step father built one of the first Buddhist Temples in Spokane. I grew up with a temple in my house, and that’s what I grew up around. I always loved ritual, and my mother always wore a mala. For me jewelry is something I like it to have meaning; obviously it all can’t have meaning behind it, but it should always have expression. I’m not a label person, I am drawn to things that have meaning to you. I like jewelry that has symbolizism. That is where my inspiration for jewelry comes from.”
For a designer who’s pieces have been seen on Nickelodean Kid’s Choice Awards, on the big screen with Zoe Deschanel, and on not one but FOUR cast members of Gossip Girl (that’s right, Serena, Blair, Vanessa and Jenny!), she is still incredibly humble in her efforts:
“I think a big problem in our society is that we don’t have rituals anymore. We do, but they’re not like a Quinceanera, or a rite of passage from being a child to becoming an adult, we don’t do that anymore. I think that’s important, I think a child becoming an adult, or passing on to your children your morals and your ethics and your spirituality, jewelry can be a symbol of that. It’s kind of like passing on something that says ‘Now your an adult, now your responsible, this is something that I’m giving to you to show you that.’
My mother gave me my grandmother’s wedding ring when I graduated high school. It was such a big moment for me, because she said ‘You don’t need a man to make you complete you just need yourself and to be compassionate to others, that’s why I’m giving this to you now…because it’s time for you to go on and travel and do things on your own’. For me that
was huge, that she gave me that confidence in myself.”
Kimberly shared with me one of her newest designs, a medical ID necklace with true fashion sense. She says the design was requested by a customer one day in her shop, and Kimberly got to work designing something between a necklace and a rosary. Kimberly herself liked the design so much, she was wearing it when I met her at the spa. In fact its encounters and causes like this that will likely drive much of Kimberly’s business goals in the next ten years. Though, admittedly, she has no definite plan for her brand since it has always seemed to carve its own path, she does intend to give back. Kimberly plans to partner with organizations such as Nest, which partners women in other countries such as Guatemala with designers to help the women start their own business and income. “I think it’s all about giving back, what you can, giving back as much as you can to the community around you that supports you and women in other countries so they can be self sufficient as well.” As for Kimberly Baker Jewelry, future designs will be designated to Limited Edition, produced in only 200 quantity, while her favorite designs will be held on permanently in the Classics.
Get your own beautiful piece of Kimberly Baker at 617 N 36th St in Fremont, or shop online at http://www.kimberlybaker.com/.
And her The Glamour Wire sent you.
As for her signature look…(you’ll want to write this one down):
“Jeans, I’m definitely a jeans girl. Helmut Lang jeans, a great boot with a heel. And then I wear just like a probably vintage top or t-shirt and a fitted blazer. I either do my hands or my neck, like tons of bracelets and a stud earring, or a huge necklace and one ring. Always lots of accessories but in one area.”
Special thanks to Michelle Moore for her suggesting Kimberly Baker Jewelry to be on the Wire. And be sure to LIKE the wire on Facebook to get exclusive access to deals from local boutiques today! http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Glamour-Wire-Seattle-Fashion-Series/120173214738698