Today we’d like to introduce you to Debbie Lechtman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Debbie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I first started making jewelry about 5 years ago as a hobby, although my skills were pretty elementary at the time. Eventually, I decided to take an introductory metalsmithing class, as I was interested in learning how to manipulate metal. Once I had the basics down, I became mostly self-taught, with a couple of complementary classes here and there when I wanted to improve my skills.
At the time, I was still in grad school and busy with other projects. I didn’t launch my company, Roots Metals, until this summer (2018). The entire concept for my brand was inspired by a conversation I had with my sister on a trip to India last year. Experiencing a culture so different from my own, and overwhelmed by the colors, smells, and beautiful adornments and jewelry, I became interested in exploring my own cultural heritage through my metalsmithing work.
Has it been a smooth road?
My brand is still in its early stages, so I’m sure there are many obstacles to overcome. I wouldn’t say it has necessarily been a smooth road — a lot has been happening in my personal life, so it’s hard juggling both — but it’s definitely been a learning experience.
I would say at this point the biggest struggle has been marketing and putting my name out there. I’m naturally a very introverted person, so it’s a challenge to promote my work.
However, I’m lucky to have met some great people along the way, as well as a marketing/consulting agency (Westside Collective) that has truly helped expose my brand to the public.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Roots Metals story. Tell us more about the business.
The short of it is that I make jewelry inspired by my Latin American and Middle Eastern heritage. I work using an ancient process called lost wax casting, in which a design is carved out of wax and later cast into the metal of my choice (I work with silver, bronze, brass, and 14k gold).
I do all the designing, carving, grinding, soldering, polishing, stone-setting, packaging, and shipping myself, so it’s a lot. The casting is done out of a small, family-run caster in Portland. I use recycled metals whenever possible, and all of the stones in my work have been ethically-mined, usually in the United States.
I currently sell my work on my website, select shows (the schedule is announced on my Instagram, @rootsmetals), and am also looking to sell wholesale to small, independent boutiques. I also do custom work, including engagement and wedding jewelry.
I think what sets me apart from other jewelers and jewelry brands is that my work is completely mine. My pieces look like 3D versions of images I’ve doodled in my notebooks and journals since I was a kid. My work is rooted in my eclectic cultural background, and I’m really proud of that. In a way, I feel that I am connecting with my ancestors through my work.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
That’s an interesting question! People always have and (in my opinion) always will adorn themselves with jewelry. What I’m personally seeing, though, is a shift in consciousness, with consumers being more interested in knowing where the materials for their jewelry come from, as well as a growing trend to support independent jewelers/designers as opposed to big retailers and brands.
- Website: www.rootsmetals.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: rootsmetals
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