Kristin Coffin

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Drawing inspiration from local landscapes, jewelry designer Kristin Coffin creates her pieces with the classical elements and composition in mind. She’s down to earth and passionate about what she does; it’s easy to see this all shine through in her work.

Kristin was raised in rural New Hampshire and studied Studio Art at the University of Vermont, with an emphasis on metalsmithing and jewelry design.

“Growing up, I never realized jewelry designing could be a career. I loved beading and tinkering with materials to make clothing and accessories. It always seemed like a hobby, rather than something I could pursue into adulthood. It wasn’t until I took my first metalsmithing class in college that everything changed,” she recalls.

Until that point, Kristin was focused on drawing and painting, but after her first metals course, her passion was piqued. She finally found an art form that she wanted to pursue in every free minute she had. Whether that was in between classes or even during vacation months, Kristin truly loved how technical and precise metalsmithing could be.

“Pieces should be works of art, but they should also have the body and its form in mind. Since my pieces are primarily everyday wedding rings, my aesthetic is very balanced, streamlined, and wearable,” explains Kristin.

While she was still in college, Kristin was hired as a goldsmith at a renowned gallery on the East Coast. She started playing with an idea for a jewelry line while she was still in school and pieces of it were sold in the gallery.

“It was fun, but I still didn’t take my own collection very seriously. After the gallery closed its doors I was hired as a metalsmith for renowned artist, Belle Brooke Designs, and I continued to sell my own collection on Etsy,” says Kristin.

Eventually, Kristin got to the point where she was working two full-time jobs: one for Belle, and another full-time job fulfilling her own orders for stores and Etsy, but then things began to change.

“It was an epiphany of sorts when I realized I could sell my own collection full-time without needing another job alongside. Up until then, I truly thought I’d just go back to school at some point to become an art teacher. I simply thought my goldsmithing and designing were ways to save money for grad school. It was wild to finally realize I could make a living as an artist,” Kristin said.

Although she studied drawing and rendering in school, Kristin almost never sketches before starting a piece. “I prefer to jump directly to the metal or wax,” she begins, “I keep boxes and boxes of sterling twigs and branches around that I can cut, form, hammer, position, solder, and create new designs from. Until recently, all of my new designs were made directly from metal. Recently, I’ve started playing around more with wax carving and sculpting, but it’s very ‘fly be the seat of my pants’ since I have almost no training with wax working. I’ve found wax carving to be really relaxing – perfect with a glass of wine!”

Kristin Coffin Web1

While Kristin has found much success with her work, just like all artists, she still faces setbacks from time to time.

“I still get worked up, but I try to see setbacks and mistakes as part of the process. It’s taken years to realize that ‘wasting’ money on new designs, or trying out new vendors is all part of the process, and not a waste at all,” she says.

The Kristin Coffin client is primarily fairly young, and just getting engaged and married. Unlike classical proposals where a ring is purchased as a surprise, most of her couples/clients are non-traditional. She sells many engagement rings to females picking out their own rings or to couples shopping together.

“There are certainly some clients purchasing a ring as a complete surprise, but I find more and more that young couples are deciding together when to get engaged. That’s my favorite type of customer too – they know their finger size, they know what they love, they know their budget, and everyone is giddy! I also love that I get to work with many same-sex couples, and I keep that I mind as I create listings and take photos. For example, a “His and His” ring set,” explains Kristin.

Photo of bench

We live in this new age of Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, etc. where females (in particular) are able to “window shop” and then leave trails of clues for their partner.

“I’ll admit it’s extremely rare when a male finds my shop on his own. If the couple isn’t simply shopping together, then he wound up at my Etsy shop because he found a photo of a ring on her iPad, on a Pinterest page, etc. So although I have male buyers, my shoppers tend to be almost all female. I’m able to really focus on their tastes as I design, photograph, and write descriptions,” says Kristin.

When it comes to design, Kristin has found that she has very conscientious customers.

“They want ethical metals and gems and alternative options,” she says, “My style tends to attract someone looking for something unique, but still timeless. My clients tend to be less focused on big white diamonds, and more in tune to alternative engagement ring options, and alternative weddings in general.”

In today’s world, trends change rather quickly. For a designer, staying relevant can be a never ending battle, and Kristin has witnessed this first hand.

“When starting out, everything was petite: skinny Twig Stackables, small gemstones, and fairly low price points. As my clientele expanded, I’ve found that everything has gotten bigger. I get more and more requests for large Moissanites, big rustic diamonds, etc. My line tends to adapt over time with demand, and bigger is definitely in demand!” she explains.

In a world where we’re inundated with designers all around us via the internet and social media, it’s easy to feel invisible. Remember to, “be your most authentic self, both with your customers and with your designs,” suggests Kristin, “Don’t fixate on what everyone else is doing, or how everyone else is pricing their work. Create a collection you love, and price it fairly to pay yourself well. I see so many new designers pricing their work way too low to be making a living wage, especially on Etsy. If you take your work and your designs seriously, others will see the value in it.”

It’s clear to see that Kristin’s work and her brand are uniquely hers. “I was very intentional when I chose my company name, Kristin Coffin Jewelry. I wanted myself, the artist, to be the brand. I answer all emails and inquiries; I do all my own photography; write my own copy for all my listings; write my own blog; etc. Client interactions are extremely intimate and genuine. In addition to exceptional customer service, I pride myself on handmade pieces crafted from ethical materials,” she says.

Kristin’s favorite part about what she does is that her business never feels like a job. “I love designing, playing with tools all day, and getting dirty. My days are certainly hectic but I can enjoy the time in a different way. Until having my own business, I never realized the joy of savoring my coffee for a couple hours while responding to customer emails each morning. I never take a moment for granted,” she explains. JBA

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Author:Jewelry Business Advisor

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