Red Giraffe Designs
Owner Name: Kate Stevens
Year Started: 2009
Red Giraffe Designs is a handmade jewelry company that specializes in customizable jewelry including stamped bracelets and necklaces. We have been big fans of their work for several years and we were thrilled when we got them opportunity to work with them! We interviewed Kate at Red Giraffe Designs to learn more.
Can you tell us more about your business and your background?
I graduated from Ohio University about 9 years ago with a degree in Retail Merchandising, Sales, and Fine Art and not a clue what I wanted to do. Luckily my parents let me live with them for a year or two so I could figure it out. I dabbled in a few different ventures, including t-shirt and home décor design until I stumbled upon jewelry making. I often grew bored with things after doing them for a while, and when that didn’t happen with jewelry making I knew I had found something that I would enjoy for many, many years.
I started making a few pieces here and there that I would give as gifts, or that my Mom or Aunts would purchase out of the goodness of their hearts. Then I began to grow my inventory and decided the next thing to do was to sell at craft shows. My first show was a learning experience for sure. The entry fee was $200 and I made about $100. To my surprise, the most popular booth at the show was a lady selling plastic baby dolls in baskets. I knew from that moment that I needed to research shows a little more and find the ones that more aligned with my brand and target customers.
I got into the “craft show game” and slowly built up a customer following. From there I started selling in a few consignment stores and eventually started a wholesale line. My business eventually grew to the point where in order for me to grow more, I needed help and I needed more room to work. This led me on a search for a studio space. My father-in law actually found the space I’m currently in on High Street. At 356 square feet, not many businesses could run out of such a small space, but for me it was perfect. The location on High Street in the Short North was a bonus that I wasn’t even searching for at first. Since it was in such a great location, we decided to turn it into a combined store and studio. Customization has always been a large part of my business – At craft shows I would always bring my pliers and charms and be prepared to whip up something custom right there for the customers while they shopped, so I really wanted to continue this aspect at my storefront. Now people come into the store with an idea or request, and I’m able to look through my supplies and collaborate with them in an effort to bring their idea to life. Sometimes I refer to my store as a brick and mortar Etsy shop. I can hand stamp bracelets and charm necklaces with coordinates, monogram lettering, or short sayings right in the store while customers look around.
We’ve been open at our retail store for a little over a year, and in that time I’ve gone from working completely by myself to now having a staff of 7 girls helping me. On top of our retail store, I continue to sell at craft shows and in other stores throughout the U.S. Keeping up with demand has been challenging, but we recently moved into a second studio and office space down the street from our store, so that has helped us keep store tasks separate from office duties and online orders (as well as giving us more storage space!)
We’re gearing up for craft show season and I’m very excited for all the events coming up. Knowing that I have so much more help this year for my busy times is such a relief and I’m so happy and lucky to be able to do what I love every day with a great group of girls.
What aspect of your business makes you proud?
The customer service and products we offer make me proud. We will do anything to make our customer's experience a positive one and we strive to offer trendy, high quality jewelry at affordable prices.
Is your business involved in any charity work in the local community?
I donate to various charities and silent auctions throughout the year and am currently working with some Pelotonia riders by creating some custom pieces to raise money for their rides.
Why do you love Ohio?
I love that Ohio has all 4 season, an abundance of craft fairs and farmers markets, and that the people from Ohio are so supporting of small businesses.
Instagram Account: @redgiraffedesigns
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/redgiraffedesigns
Twitter Account: @itsredgiraffe