We’re excited today to share an article that originally appeared as a Tastemaker feature in our Summer 2016 issue. Kristen Baird is a jewelry designer in Savannah who has recently been named one of Business in Savannah and Savannah Magazine’s 2017 NextGEN honorees. She also was a Top 5 finalist for the Halstead Grant in September of 2016 and her jewelry line is carried in four Kessler galleries in Savannah, Charleston, Orlando and St. Augustine.
For 2017 Kristen is working on refining and expanding the business side of her brand, focusing on development and branding, sales, production, accounting and PR/marketing. She recognizes the importance of seeking support for growing her business outside of herself, telling us “I’m now part of a jewelry biz mastermind for the entire year. I’m so excited to be a part of this group of about 25 designers. We are working with five coaches to elevate our brands. Having that support system and sounding board is already proving to be beyond beneficial.”
Kristen also plans to launch a new collection in the first quarter of 2017. We hope you enjoy learning more about this talented designer!
We first met Kristen Baird in the spring of 2013 when she was making jewelry out of a corner in her bedroom. Three years later, now Kristen Baird-Rabun, the jewelry designer has expanded her company to include a full studio, a thriving custom bridal business and a new full time employee starting this summer. We sat down with her to discuss the changes she’s made in the past three years and where she’s going next.
Kristen started out after her graduation from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2012 doing jewelry repairs, making the occasional engagement ring and expanding her production line, which was then composed largely of pieces inspired by honeycomb and other textures found in nature. In 2014 she completed a professional certificate program at the New Approach School for Jewelers in Franklin, TN. The experience represented a major turning point for Kristen.
While studying at the New Approach School, Kristen refined her techniques and learned the skills that gave her the confidence to give her business her all, quitting her part time jobs to focus on jewelry design full time. The vision of her business is two-fold: fine jewelry—currently her custom-designed engagement and wedding pieces—and her production line, which now focuses on nature-inspired statement cuffs, rings, earrings and necklaces. She loves playing with textures, mixing shiny silver with matte finishes and finding new ways to capture and reflect light in her work.
Kristen identifies the moment she realized she needed to change her pricing structure as pivotal. Her experience at New Approach—along with a meeting with a nationally renowned appraiser who told her she was undercharging—allowed her to recognize that her pricing had to reflect the quality. Nonetheless, it was an intimidating move for an independent business owner, as the new prices priced her out of a venue she had been carried in previously. The change was an essential one, though, enveloping the overhead of her materials and further refining the vision of her business.
Kristen had a second life-changing experience in 2014—the opportunity to design her own engagement ring.
“I am probably my own hardest client,” she laughs.
She worked on the ring, doing mock-ups and recasting, up to the last minute, only finishing it two days before her wedding. The ring, which features a diamond-circled spinel that changes color under different lighting, transitioning from deep teal to royal blue to dark purple, is an inspiration for her upcoming bridal line which will incorporate colored stones, in addition to diamonds, along with two-toned metals and other details that are rarely found in traditional engagement rings. She expects to launch the bridal line in 2017.
[Editor’s note: Kristen launched her first gold collection at the Grand Bohemian Galleries in Savannah and Charleston in the late spring of 2016.]
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Paprika Southern, which also featured a profile on artist Christina Edwards, a home tour with Brooke Thomas, owner of Clutter, a dreamy Lowcountry boil styled spread with recipes and more. To see the full issue, order now.
Written by Bevin Valentine Jalbert / Photographed by Siobhan Egan
To learn more about Kristen, visit her website.