Hometown Heroes: Jewelry Designer Jennifer Rodgers
Rounding out our series of Austin Hometown Heroes is Jennifer Rodgers, a jewelry maker creating cool, sculptural pieces using old-school metalsmithing techniques for her brand, Slantt. We just had to know more about how her artful designs come to life, so we stopped by her studio for a chat.
Tell us how Slantt began—what sparked your interest in jewelry design?
Four years ago, I made a handful of wood rings and necklaces, just as a personal project. I had a modest collection of woodworking tools, some scraps of hardwood and a few ideas floating around in my head. My friends started noticing the pieces and asking to buy them, so I decided to put together a website and signed up to participate in a few craft shows. Soon, a local shop picked up my first collection and things grew from there.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My day starts with coffee and taking a quick look at emails for new orders. I try to jot down a simple list of production to-dos. I usually have work to finish from the day before, so I'll sit down and get started on that. I take frequent breaks to stretch, play fetch with my dog and squeeze in a little exercise. The majority of my day is production, but sometimes I spend a whole day on the computer editing photos, updating my website and catching up on emails.
How do you stay motivated while you’re working in the studio?
I always have something to listen to as I work. Some of my favorite podcasts are How I Built This, Pod Save America, On Point and Unstyled. I've got a list of audiobooks I'm getting through and a long Spotify playlist. Recently, I've had Loma and Khruangbin in the daily queue and on repeat. Solange is always in the mix. Having a well-lit space also helps keep me focused and awake on those long production days.
We love the sculptural style of your jewelry—where do you find your inspiration?
Most often I find myself inspired by my travels. Natural forms, architecture, colors, landscapes and even the mood of a place can inspire a particular shape or an entire idea for a piece of jewelry. Art is a wonderful source of inspiration, and there's so much amazing work out there. I love to take my time while visiting a gallery or museum. The Blanton Museum of Art is a beautiful space in Austin that houses incredible work including the new Ellsworth Kelly installation. Modernist art and architecture is a major source of inspiration as well.
Any advice for others looking to turn their creative interests into a full-time thing?
My advice is to just do the work. Planning can get you so far, but you can propel yourself into a real business if you keep taking steps forward. Be bold but not hasty. Reach out to your community of artists/designers/makers. They are a great source of inspiration, resources, encouragement and knowledge. Every success I've had with my business is easily connected to some lovely person who supports my work. Lastly, there are always ups and downs, so don't get distracted by the latest down. Just stay focused.
Thanks for hanging, Jennifer. Shop Slantt jewelry and from our Hometown Heroes right here.