We're kicking off a new series on the blog that's intended to connect you with the men and women who make betsy & iya jewelry. Establishing this connection is something Betsy & Will have strived to do since the beginning of the business. Before I began working here, a huge appeal of buying b&i was feeling like I was purchasing something from a friend. Feeling like I knew Betsy because she openly shared her story in a genuine way. Feeling like I could approach her in the grocery store, even if I happened to be in some outfit halfway between workout clothes & pajamas (she'd totally understand me!).This notion of accessibility - familiarity, comfort, ease - with betsy & iya is what makes us special. Whether it's sharing personal #betsyandiyalife photos on our social media, or just feeling like you could go out for a drink with us after a busy day, the human element of our business is something that will always remain a priority and hopefully adds value to your interactions with us. Introducing you to each of our makers – that's Barrie, Amory, Alyssa, Matty, & Betsy – will only serve this goal.
First up: Miss Barrie Chan
Although I don't know the exact reasons why her Instagram handle is @onequirkypeach, I can only surmise that it's a nod to her funky sweetness. Barrie is the girl who will waltz into work sporting 12 rings on the 2 hands that bear a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. Barrie amazes me daily with talents ranging from computer wiz (she made the above graphic for this series) to dishing out amazing customer service, all with a smile and a killer mane of hair (srsly- if she whipped that ponytail your way, you might just pass out permanently). After two years working the shop floor, she's recently made the transition to full-time maker. Therefore, as the rookie, she's first in this series. Let's get to know more about Barrie!
Hometown: Ten years outside Boston, ten years in the Bay Area, now I'm here in Portland, they're all my home.
Zodiac Sign: Taurus: I'm stubborn, love presents (giving and receiving), and I love to snuggle!
I've been making jewelry since: April 26, 2013
Items of jewelry you make most often: I take charge of most of the painting of the Voyage collection, and I do so with pride.
Before I was a Maker at b&i I was: Still at b&i as a shop girl/merchandiser! (in action below, during our most recent shop revamp)
Describe your path to becoming a maker in an ice cream flavor & why: Mint chocolate chip (which happens to be my favorite flavor anyways). I've always been interested in it, and as I get a spoonful I find myself wanting more and more! The chocolate chips equate to some chunky bumps in the road, but those are just challenges that I love to overcome and learn from (and I love chocolate anyways... Duh).
Favorite b&i Piece to Make: I'm learning how to make ear wires right now--one of the things I consider to be a quintessential signature of betsy & iya jewelry. It's a challenge, and it takes a LOT of practice, but when I get it right it's really rewarding.
Favorite b&i Piece to Wear: All of it. But mostly the rings. All the rings.
What are some of your favorite tools to work with: The hammer, naturally, to let out the aggression :-) and the paint, because I love painting and I love bringing color to our collection.
Do you listen to music while you make? If so, what are some of your fave jams? Recently, I've been listening to Beyoncé's latest album, but other than that I'll listen to The Mamas & the Papas station on Pandora. TED Talks too! NPR has a TED radio hour on Podcasts. Truly inspiring.
Being a maker has taught me: To be confident. When Matty was teaching me to use a hammer (as elementary as that sounds) he told me to be confident in my actions. Go for it! And I do. *Punches fist into the air with confidence*
This was Barrie's best day of 2014 thus far, featuring her two favorite things: puppies & baked goods. Barrie is memorable. Barrie is patient. Barrie is an amazing teacher and an equally efficient learner. Barrie embodies the hardworking and fun-loving spirit of betsy & iya. Cheers, Anna ***Song of the Moment: XO by Beyoncé***