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Conversations with the Inspiring Jennifer Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Allen.

Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Maine surrounded by creatives and homesteaders. My father was an artist with a passion for painting and metal sculpture. He was an art major who ended up a laborer, so when I expressed my interest in art school he quickly shut it down. As an alternative, I took an adult ed course on silversmithing and wisely, enrolled in nursing school. I set up shop next to my dad for those years and taught myself all the basics of silversmithing when I wasn’t in class or clinic. Upon graduation, I moved to San Francisco and then New York, for work all the while taking metal classes and dabbling in studios. When I moved to LA with my husband 2 1/2 years ago, I was finally afforded the space and time to set up a shop of my own. I started my business a little over a year ago and through local craft shows and social media have been able to connect with both artisans and the community on a level I had not anticipated. I now design, create, market and distribute all of my pieces completely independently. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to spend my free time creating unique pieces of jewelry that people will hopefully have for a lifetime.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I work a full-time job as a nurse practitioner caring for veterans. My job has it’s challenging on a daily basis but is by far the most rewarding work I have ever done. At the end of the day, I often come home both physically and emotionally exhausted. Creating jewelry has become a bit of a meditation for me. It allows me time to focus on only the task at hand and let the rest of the day roll away. It’s a conduit for all of my creative energy. The most difficult and important part of the process has been making the time which I had struggled with in the past. It’s much easier to walk into my apartment and lay on the couch, but much more therapeutic to go to the shop. Like meditation, it’s all about showing up to the practice. There are days when nothing goes right, you melt metal and break stones, but that’s all part of the journey.

What should we know about Winthrop’s Daughter? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
When I was growing up, my grandmother always wore this giant Navajo turquoise ring. I remember it so vividly on her finger. (I now wear it whenever I feel like I need her with me.) When we went to flea markets, I was often drawn to these similar vintage designs. The very first ring I ever made was a turquoise ring. Over the years, I experimented with a lot of other styles and materials but it all came full circle for me. When you talk to people about their turquoise they almost always tell you stories about inheriting it from a relative. It’s one of the only stones I’ve known that takes on this heirloom quality. I’ve always been enamored by that. Now, I create all of my pieces using recycled sterling silver and I source my turquoise almost exclusively from American mines. And I can only hope that some of my pieces one day are worn by the children of my customers.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Participating in local craft shows has helped me meet a bunch of other local artisans. It’s so helpful to hear other people’s stories and struggles. There are so many invaluable things to be learned from the people around you. Talk to everyone! I’ve gained some dear friends, some great marketing advice and a wealth of knowledge about turquoise just from chatting people up.

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Image Credit:

Liz Clayman

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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