Handmade: Jewelry designer sets up shop in Ferndale
Elaine Jaeger, who's lived in Ferndale for nearly the past two years, is doing what she loves -- designing, making and selling jewelry.
"I kind of had an epiphany, where if you do what you love, the money will come," she said. "It's definitely a luxurious way to think about life."
Jaeger, who was born in Columbia, MO., but grew up in Denver, CO., earned a fine arts degree in metal smithing and hot glass work at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. in 2009. She later spent 3 1/2 years working in Charlottesville for a goldsmith.
She moved here from Virginia last year after her husband, Brad, got a job at Ford Motor Co. She then took part in Wayne State University's Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, "a program for small businesses that links learning to action," reads its website. Described by organizers as "an accelerated MBA program," Jaeger said it afforded her the opportunity to gain a "community of resources here in Detroit."
About her move to the area, she said, "I was excited to move here. It was a change, and the fascination with Detroit and what's going on here. It's the land of possibility. There is space for creative people and experimentation, more so than a lot of other places. We chose Ferndale to live in because of the neighborhood and walk-ability. We wanted to be able to walk to a restaurant, and not drive on the weekend."
"About half the time," she walks the six blocks from home to her jewelry store, "Elaine B. Jewelry," which she opened last month at 22961 Woodward in Ferndale. "This has been a kind of dream of mine," she said. "I've always done craft shows -- wholesale and online -- (but) this is an attempt to take control over my day, life, and space -- not to have to travel a lot. I just wanted to create a beautiful creative space where people can come in, see stones, and see the process of how things are made."
Back when she worked out of a studio in downtown Detroit, she was also busy "putting together a team (of jewelry artists), getting to know people, and getting involved in the small business handmade community." One thing led to another, including her own studio, after sharing space in Detroit with a furniture designer and metalsmith. She admitted, "A lot of it was luck."
In the past year and a half, she's had a team of three "amazing" women helping her produce many of the items she sells. "I touch most pieces, and I design every piece. I personally make all the fine jewelry -- all the gold and custom work, and my team helps make all the everyday jewelry pieces," she stated. "At the very beginning, I made all the pieces. I love people and community, but I can't do everything myself. (And,) I've always had help with photography and graphic design. I love collaborating with talented people."
Jaeger designs and creates a lot of "geometric-inspired" pieces, many in the form of hoop earrings and angels. She uses a range of precious and semi-precious materials, including sterling silver, 18K gold vermeil, 14K gold, "recycled diamonds," lapis, moonstone, quartz, emeralds, pearls, and labradorite.
The company's Concentric Collection is quite popular among customers. She said, "It deals with a lot of big hoop earrings and the idea of space, but it's also light and wearable." Overall,prices tend to range from $40 for a pair of stud earrings up to $1,500, or more, for an engagement ring.
Jaeger's fascination with jewelry making is linked to the strong emotions that are often attached to it. "Jewelry is really exciting because it is such an intimate and personal product. People give it and receive it at special times in their lives," she said. "It's usually given by someone who loves you. Then you wear it, and it's a very intimate adornment."
Elaine B. Jewelry will host "DIY Days" Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m. "People can pick different charms and stones, and kind of make their own jewelry." Then on Thursday, the store will have its holiday party from 5-9 p.m. Now through Christmas, the store will be open everyday from noon-6 p.m. Regular hours (noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat.) will resume after Christmas.
In addition to "putting the shop together" more, Jaeger said, her "next big project" will be giving birth to her first born Feb. 5!
Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, email@example.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Elaine B. Jewelry (22961 Woodward, Ferndale) at (248) 565-8758. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.