Friday, February 5, 2010

Local Designer Kylie Grater of Early Jewelry

I recently sat down with Kansas artist Kylie Grater of Early Jewelry at her studio. Much like Kansas Couture, Kylie expresses her design aesthetic from a Midwestern perspective. Her distinctive handmade pieces are loved by women all over the world. She sells her work through her website, Etsy and at boutiques throughout the country. Currently working with Free People for their May catalog, she has also sold her jewelry through Urban Outfitters and has been featured in Nylon, Teen Magazine, Rachel Ray and more.
Kansas Couture: Tell me about your inspiration.
Early Jewelry: I go for natural, simple, clean design. I'm inspired by open spaces and rural souvenirs like wood, leather and antler: things you might find on a walk. Design-wise, I draw on the cleanliness of the rural Kansas landscape... plots of field and horizon lines.

KC: How did you start making jewelry?
EJ: I grew up in a tiny town and always liked being creative as a kid. In high school, I had a great art teacher who gave me lots of allowances. I studied metalsmithing at KU and spent a year in England, which prepared me professionally. I launched Early Jewelry through LOLA in 2005 and have been doing it full time for three years.
"I like being from Kansas. It's part of the Early Jewelry identity." 

KC: Tell me about your process.
EJ: I'm very materials-based. I don't do a lot of sketching. I'll see a shape in nature and then think about the design in my mind. I'm always manufacturing, forming and producing using techniques that I know work. I keep my production simple.

KC: Why do you stay in Kansas?
EJ: The internet is the only reason I can run this business out of Lawrence. My website allows me to have my own store, my own brand, my own identity. I can market myself internationally. And I like being from Kansas. It's part of the Early Jewelry identity. Being from Kansas can be cool. People find it quaint. It's not necessarily a reality to people. It's an idea or concept.
"I have ... a moral desire to have my business reflect good."

KC: Why is it important to be involved in the local art community?
EJ: Growing up in a small community taught me the importance of volunteerism. Involvement in the community in general is ingrained in me. I have a business but also a moral desire to have my business reflect good. Through this activism, I always meet people, which leads to other things.

KC: Do you have any advice for people interested in starting their own business?
EJ: Knowing business is really important. To go from just being crafty to a full-time job, you have to understand marketing, if and how you're going to advertise, producing a quality product, managing interns, bookkeeping, staying extremely organized and more. You feel like you have to do everything, but I'm doing what I like, and it's totally my voice.
Stay tuned: On Monday, there will be an Early Jewelry Valentine's Day giveaway!

Hey, Local Folks!
Here are some upcoming Early Jewelry events:

"Have a Heart" Valentine Art Show -- Van Go Mobile Arts, non-profit
RECEPTION: Friday, February 5th, 5 - 8 pm
715 New Jersey St
Lawrence, KS
February 6th - 14th,
1 - 5 pm

Early Jewelry @ First Fridays each month in the Kansas City Crossroads District 7 - 10 pm
Speak Salon
327 1/2 Southwest Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64108

Fashion Loves People and Early Jewelry Trunk Show
Saturday, February 6th, 10 am - 6 pm
Haught Style
6951 Tomahawk Road
Prairie Village, KS

Lola Valentine's Show
Saturday, February 13th, noon - 6 pm
500 Locust
Lawrence, KS 


Marie said...

What a great post... thanks for sharing. By the way, I want a work table just like that!

20something said...

yum yum yummy! <3

Francesca said...

wow i love that jewelry its awesome

F <-- Texas gal bloggin fashion from NYC!

Style of a Fashionista said...

Hi I have just found your blog and I love your style and great that you are from Kansas I have an Auntie and cousins in Kansas and they have always given me an image of cowboys and country folk as they call themselves but you are far from this xoxo

Clare said...

These pieces are lovely, thanks for bringing it to my attention :)

Loves x

Michele said...

WOW, thanks for sharing. Kylie Grater is definitely a very talented artist and it's always nice to see Midwest ladies represented.

Lexie said...

I love the horseshoe necklace! I think I may have told you this already, but one of my best friends is from Lawrence, and she has made me fall in love with Kansas!

jessie said...

love kylie. :) brilliant work and sooo sweet.

(always)alanna said...

love it- especially that PRESENTATION. to die forrr
and gorgeouss blogg- will definitely be back visiting SOON!

Lea's Suitcase said...

The merchandising is fantastic.

jenny said...

Lovely. I wish I was in Kasas!!!

jenny said...

That's supposed to say Kansas.

Danielle Barbe said...

really great jewelry and interview! i enjoyed this.

Mo said...

I met the girl behind EJ at the latest Renegade Craft Fair here in Chicago. I really love her work and was once again, really proud of the people of Lawrence & KC!