Friends of the Children visits b&i!

In a super awesome "full circle" moment, a group of kids and mentors from Friends of the Children - a nonprofit we've donated to last December and April of this year -visited our studio. I worked with Natalie (back row center, below) to set up the logistics of the tour, and after time to peruse our retail shop, Amory led the group through our studio where she demonstrated annealing and hammering a Fremont Bridge cuff. Friends of the Children Portland
The group from Friends of the Children Portland

Throughout the tour, we covered the past, present, and future of betsy & iya, allowing plenty of time for questions along the way. The group asked such great questions that I thought I'd share some on the blog along with the answers. Chances are, some of you have wondered these very same things!

betsy & iya studio tour Amory on the mandrel! Hammering the annealed cuff gives it the shape perfect for your wrist.

How do we determine the price of pieces? - Materials and labor are calculated in a spreadsheet that determines the prices of our jewelry. It's all very scientific in order to keep costs as accessible as possible. What was the first piece of jewelry Betsy made? - Egyptian Isis Goddess earrings, which are still in our line today! What pieces take the longest to make?  - Some of our necklaces have a lot of intricate assembly work, two of which are seen below: Campeche necklace and Arkadiko necklace Two examples of labor intensive necklaces

How do we decide who does what in production everyday? - It's a combination based on replenishment reports and projections of what we'll need for the upcoming weeks, and matching tasks with the makers who not only have the sharpest skills, but who also enjoy the process (aka giving people tasks they like and are good at).

betsy & iya studio tour Shayna giving the group a look at colores- the process of adding color to the painted pieces from our Voyage Collection.

In addition to those more technical questions, the kids were very inquisitive about how Betsy, Amory, and all of production ended up making jewelry, and the fluidity of one's career path emerged as a theme. No one answered "jewelry designing/making is exactly what I set out to do," thus giving a firsthand example to young people that you don't have to have it all figured out by a certain age. Interests and circumstances are always evolving, and no job has to be permanent. With hard work along the way, anything is possible, even your wildest dreams. Natalie summed it all up towards the end saying "you don't have to have the background or the skills necessary to follow your dream, but you do have to have passion, flexibility, and desire to grow." Couldn't have said it better myself! Observing and documenting this tour, I thought this was such an encouraging thing for this group to hear. When you're young, there are so many emotions associated with just trying to figure out how to be yourself and at ease with who that person is. How wonderful to see examples like Betsy and Amory, women who didn't have "it all figured out" right away, but instead let life guide them to their current roles at betsy & iya. Thank you Natalie and Friends of the Children for this tour; hope to have you back very soon! Much love, Anna and all of b&i

Group 7