Kickass Entrepreneuers Trending This Season
Our second stop on the Fempire 614 tour is with Kaleigh Shrigley and Claire Lowe, co-owners and designers of ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry in Clintonville. They recently added a storefront to their studio space and celebrated their third anniversary! Their shop is filled with their hand-crafted collection along with hand-picked goods, made mostly by local women. These two are so dope, so see what they have to say.
So, what’s your story?
I was at CCAD studying graphic design. My sophomore year, I took a jewelry class as an elective. Immediately I fell in love with it and called my mom moments after the class and I was like, “I found my calling!” and I went and changed my major. The next two years I dedicated to learning as much as I could and taking advantage of the studio as much as I could while I had it.
During that time I was also working part-time on the weekends at a boutique in the Short North, where Claire then worked full-time. We met and became friends. Her husband is a photographer, so he started helping with photoshoots while Claire would helping with styling. I started wholesaling my jewelry to the boutique while I was in school, which was the only way I was selling it at the time.
When I graduated I was ready to start doing it hopefully full-time, so Claire and I quit our jobs at the boutique and I asked Claire if she wanted to be a part of the business!
I started going to school for psychology and liked it, but didn’t really love it. The quarter before I graduated I took a textiles class and loved it and asked myself, why haven’t I been doing this the whole time!?!
So I worked for a couple of years, and went back to get my Masters in Textiles and Clothing. I started working at the boutique in the Short North, where I met Kaleigh. I loved her jewelry and begged her to let me be a part of her business!
How did ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry get started?
We had no clue what we were doing. I reached out to a friend of mine, Meredith Piccin from Honey Rose & K, and asked if she could give any direction or advice. Meredith and her husband (who is an attorney) helped us get an LLC and taught me all of the backend stuff that we didn’t know how to do, like shipping packages and setting up the website.
We meet with her once a month for “tea time” to share ups and downs and to bounce ideas off each other. She introduced us to Kelly Kepner PR, who is based in L.A., and we worked with her to get our name out there. After that, we said alright let’s stop doing PR and get our own space (we were working out of my attic). We were just sending massive amounts of cold emails to stores and using Kelly Kepner PR to get it started. We had an online store and were focusing a lot on wholesale, but that’s how we got our start. Then in February 2015, we got our space!
What are some of your biggest accomplishments with ONE SIX FIVE?
Getting a space. It was a notable, measurable accomplishment. Just from starting in the attic, I don’t know how we did it…
We were very nervous, but we knew we had to. The space was perfect for what we needed. Our landlord let us start with a 3 month lease, so that was less intimidating. We were really lucky in that and it made us feel more comfortable in making that decision.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
In the world that we live in, it is so hard to not be inspired by other jewelry that you see, but we try very hard not to. Even when you don’t want to, sometimes it just happens. When designing a new collection, we try to not look at jewelry. Instead we look at sculpture (Alexander Calder) and fashion (Dusen Dusen). We decided to go large for the SS17 collection because we saw large earrings on all of the runways. It’s funny how things change. When we started, all everyone wanted was tiny little stacking rings. Now it’s been such a shift to earrings, it’s crazy.
We don’t want to copy anything, but it is nice to be inspired to create something that is high fashion, but at a lower price. We want to interpret things in a different way, and at a more affordable price point.
Our designs are minimal and focused on form and shape, so a lot of it is experimentation with scale and materials. With metal, it’s harder to come up with new designs every single season. With clothing, the material options are endless. We also have to forecast what people will want to pay for a piece. We don’t want to make jewelry for ‘Upper East Side’ girls. There are enough companies that do that. We strive to stay in the category where we might be a splurge item for some people, but it’s a splurge item that’s quality.
What has been the biggest learning curve of owning your own business?
There are so many. We’ve learned so many things along the way. One of the biggest that we are still struggling to understand is the combination of SEO and marketing. We are getting there, but there is so much information. You almost need someone full-time for it. It’s so important, but there’s only two of us. It’s hard to determine what to invest money in, but you have to experiment and take risks.
How do you approach each day?
We’re always excited to come in, we never dread coming here. There are days where we are tired, but it’s honestly incredible that we get to come and hangout here everyday.
We can’t imagine doing anything else. To us that feels like we are doing the right thing. After having your own business, going back to doing something else is really difficult, but that’s just us.
We don’t know what the future will hold… something could happen overnight that would totally change our business. Every year things are so different, and change so quickly.
How do you guys stay fluid and grow, but also stay true to the brand and your passion?
We have done things where we knew they weren’t for us immediately. But you just have to try. We both just have a pretty good sense of where we want the brand to be, it’s a hunch when we know that things are good, or not for us.
With a retail space, we have had a couple of brands that we wanted to work with, but sometimes it just doesn’t merchandise well with the rest of the store. It could be the greatest product ever, but you have to think about things on a higher level.
Describe your working relationship.
The biggest thing is that we respect each other. When we are making a decision, we might not always agree. We always say,”if you feel really strongly we can do this”. Usually one of us will feel more strongly about something, and we will end up going that route.
We are always honest and listen to each other’s opinion. We are good at making each other laugh when we are in a bad mood. The worst is when we are both in a bad mood, and we are just quiet. But we come in the next day and we are fine!
What are your goals for ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry in the foreseeable future?
Growing the website. We have been learning a lot about SEO (MOZ is great starting point) and stepping up our marketing game. In years past, wholesale has been our focus, but we are starting to move away from that. We would also really love to work with a PR agent again, it’s been awhile since we have done any of that. I think we could rejuvenate that area of our business.
What advice do you have for babes when it comes to investing in yourself?
The best thing is to just start small. Start making, writing, whatever it is you are doing. Do it. Just start doing it. You don’t have to have a state of the art website, just make an Etsy. People get tied up on an idea that their business has to be this big thing. We started so small. So get a logo (find a friend to make one), get a work email, get a business bank account… just start. And let it grow organically. Use any free time you have.
Congratulations to ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry in celebrating their third year!! Stop by their shop on 3171 N High Street to say hi, or shop online, and check out their new SS17 collection 🙂