Jaci Riley Jewelry offers a wide array of hand crafted jewelry, from playful pieces to more subtle and simple styles. We interviewed owner Jaci Riley about her local business in Toledo, Ohio.
Tell us about your business.
Hi, I’m Jaci! I am the owner/designer/maker/head boss lady of Jaci Riley Jewelry. JRJ is based just outside of Toledo Ohio, and was founded in 2007 while I was in college studying interior design. I graduated shortly after the economy collapsed, and I ended up losing my job. My career path took an unexpected turn and I decided to pursue my interest in jewelry. I am so glad that I did!
What drew you to your craft?
I started making jewelry for fun, and mostly because I couldn’t find pieces that I really wanted to wear on a daily basis.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to just one thing, but some of my favorite pieces to make are those that are repurposed from bullet casings used in a 21 gun salute. These pieces are so meaningful and give loved ones a simple way to celebrate the lives of those who have passed. I am always honored to create such a special piece.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I had dreams of being a marine biologist or an artist. I have always been drawn to water, wildlife and conservation. Actually, I’d still love to be a marine biologist!
What is your creative process?
I love to sketch out design ideas, but sometimes it’s easier for me to just dive right in and start making. I find that it’s really helpful fine tune my designs after I see how they feel on, or how they wear.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Trust and believe in yourself, and don’t let the haters get you down.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
Supporting local artists and makers is such a huge part of contributing to our local economy. It also just feels so good! Buying a piece from the person who made it is a really unique opportunity.
Why do you love doing what you do?
I love making jewelry because I am able to be creative in my profession, but I also really love that I can make things that make people happy. I love that I can create a bold statement necklace that in some way makes the person wearing it feel empowered and beautiful. It’s like I’m giving them super powers!
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
Do it! …but be prepared to work harder than you ever have. Don’t get too held up on comparing yourself or your business to others, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t crush it right out of the gate. Good things take time.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
My favorite thing about exploring Ohio is how diverse the terrain and wildlife is, but I will always have a soft spot for spending time on Lake Erie.