Local jewelry maker Kate Stevens of Red Giraffe Designs launches her own brick-and-mortar store in the Short North.
Inside Red Giraffe Designs on North High Street, clean white walls and vintage displays set the stage for Kate Stevens' jewelry: delicate charm necklaces, stamped cuff bracelets, vintage rings, boho-inspired earrings, statement necklaces studded with turquoise and more. But unlike other boutiques, shoppers at Red Giraffe get to peek over the counter and see works in progress.
The Short North shop, which opened in April, doubles as Stevens' studio. In fact, the storefront evolved from her original search for a bigger, better workspace. "I'd been working out of my house for six years, and it was taking over my home with all the tools and new techniques I was learning," she says. "So [my husband and I] started looking around, and then we started playing with the idea of finding a little spot where I could sell the jewelry as well." They lucked into the location at 847 N. High St., and after Impero Coffee declined to renew its lease on the space, Stevens was able to open her first brick-and-mortar location.
It's a big leap from working craft shows and selling her wares on Etsy. Stevens says she plans to attend a handful of festivals this summer, but having a permanent home for her business is a game-changer. For one, she doesn't have to constantly set up and break down displays. She's also been able to reach a whole new customer base thanks to her presence in the Short North. But her favorite part of the space is the ability to more easily customize jewelry for shoppers.
"If someone says, 'Oh I like this charm, but I like this other chain better,' I can switch it out for them," she says. "Or sometimes they'll point to something I'm working on and ask for something like it." One customer came into the store and asked for something butterfly-themed for his mother's birthday that weekend. Stevens hunted through her materials, found a butterfly charm, stamped a personal message on it and created a necklace on the spot. "That's the best part of working and selling here," she says.
Stevens finds inspiration in tinkering with different materials such as gold, brass, silver, quartz, turquoise and even vintage jewelry she repurposes into new pieces, meaning there's always something new on display. Her prices range from $6 rings to $50 necklaces, but most of her jewelry is priced between $14 and $35. "I try to have something for everyone in the different price points and the different materials," she says.
Opening a storefront took years of hard work, a little bit of luck and the support of family and loyal customers. "I have customers who have been buying from me since I started," Stevens says. "They're the reason why I keep doing this, and I'm very grateful." redgiraffedesigns.com