By Julia Sayers
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with Birmingham jewelry designer Kate Morris. Morris talks about the competitive nature of the jewelry business and how she keeps her creative juices flowing.
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Local jewelry maker Kate Morris sells beautiful handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Featuring geodes, gemstones, and beads, each piece is unique. Here, she shares how she started her business and where her inspiration comes from.
Birmingham Magazine: Tell me a little bit about how you got started.
Kate Morris: I started making jewelry around age five. I have always been very interested in making things with my hands and in entrepreneurship. When I was in elementary school, I used to make flower bracelets out of beads and American flag pins and sell them out of a little box at my brother’s baseball games. When I got older, I was inspired to really work on my jewelry-making skills in high school. I began to practice and sell my jewelry in different venues.
BM: Your work is inspired by your travels. How do you take those inspirations and translate them into your jewelry?
KM: Traveling to Bolivia is what inspired me to sell my jewelry. My parents told me I could go to Bolivia at age 16 if I could pay for it. I paid for my trip by selling my jewelry. For the next eight summers, I traveled to different countries in South and Central America. I always went to the artisan markets to see what everyone was making and how they made their craft. I speak Spanish and I love Hispanic culture. Each piece has a Spanish name as sort of a nod to my original inspiration.
BM: What challenges did you face while growing your business and how did you overcome them?
KM: I am a handmade business. Some of my items are hand-drawn by me, then drawn on the computer, then manufactured. Everything I do with my jewelry takes a lot of time. Growing a business also takes a lot of time and dedication. One of my biggest challenges has been trying to figure out how to stay on top of my craft and stay on top of my business at the same time. Jewelry is a tough business to be in. There are a lot of jewelry companies out there, so it is hard to set yourself apart. I think the challenges are what keep you moving. I have had a lot of help this year with both the business side and the craft side which I am very thankful for. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges, but I just continue to think about my purpose and trust in the decisions my husband and I make for Kate Morris Jewelry.
BM: How have you seen the Birmingham community embrace your business?
KM: I have been so inspired and felt so loved this past year with my community in Birmingham. So many people have become valued customers, have cheered me on, and offered their help whenever I may need it. Birmingham is so motivated to support local businesses. I think the community in Birmingham has made a huge difference in Kate Morris Jewelry.
BM: What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs?
KM: We have all been given amazing gifts. Many of us are scared to use our gifts or we don’t know the context in which we should use them. I would advise any other entrepreneur out there to constantly remember your purpose and why you started. For me, I started selling my jewelry to make a positive impact in other’s lives. My hope is that I continue to do this through Kate Morris Jewelry. That hope is what keeps me motivated and helps me work hard day after day.
Ask for help, find a mentor! Working with others is the best way to create a well-rounded business. Do not compare yourself to others. Those people are not you; their story is not your story and your story is a good one.
View and shop for Morris’ pieces at katemorrisjewelry.com and at a number of boutiques around town.