What didn’t fit : Larissa Loden

Didn’t get enough of Larissa Loden from the “Sneak” peek you read in the latest redshoes news? I understand! Read on for the full interview with this fabulous designer. (Not yet a subscriber to redshoes news, my monthly email? Sign up here!)

Larissa’s jewelry makes the perfect Mother’s Day or graduation gift, and it also perfectly accents many wedding gowns!

A mustachioed Larissa Loden and her gingko earrings

A mustachioed Larissa Loden and her gingko earrings

Hey Larissa! Tell us about you.
I grew up in Upstate New York in a small town called Schoharie. It’s a feels-like-there-are-more-cows-than-people kind of town. I moved to the Twin Cities in 2002 and later graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors degree in Arts and, later, a Masters in Education. I started making jewelry when I moved to Minnesota. I thought, “Where does a Minnesotan get a job?’ and the Mall of America came to mind. A bead store there was hiring, and [it was] perfect, since a year prior, my high school art teacher had introduced me to jewelry making, and I thought it was the neatest thing.

I also teach 4th-8th grade Art in Minneapolis. I love teaching art, and even have an after-school jewelry club to help inspire future designers. I also love to cook, garden, draw, paint, bike, play with my two pugs, and travel. I have a huge travel bug and try to do art shows around the country just to help me [fulfill] that travel bug.

What drew you to designing?
I love making things and sometimes actually refer to myself as a maker. I find the process of making is something very gratifying. Jewelry just seemed like a great medium for me, as it’s art you wear.

How did it all start?
It honestly just kind of happened after my stint at the bead store at the MOA. I grew up in a family business in New York, so entrepreneurial skills were just in my blood. I was just like, “I have all these supplies now, people seem to really like my stuff, so, heck, lets just start doing shows and selling things.”

Why vintage?
I’ve always been very concerned about the environment, and the jewelry industry in general is not very green. I also grew up surrounded by antiques. I went to flea markets every weekend with my dad, and from that grew a love for old stuff. So when I found out that there was amazing dead stock supplies scattered throughout the country in warehouses, I was hooked. I also love the fact that all my pieces come with a story of where and when they were made.

Where do source your materials?
I get my supplies all over but a main focus is the New England area. I find that antiques out there are the best, and I assume it’s because that’s where our country began. I also started last year going abroad. In the summer of 2011, I looked for supplies in Paris flea markets.

Why do you do what you do?
The better question is, why not do what I do? Making jewelry and meeting the people who wear it is the most amazing experience.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Be true to yourself. There’s nothing worse than a designer who is not him or herself. Also, if you have never worked retail or taken a business class, please do. Being an artist/designer is as much about being creative as it is about being your own PR agent, bookkeeper, shipping and receiving agent, etc.

Who do you admire and why?
Emily Winfield Martin of The Black Apple. She to me is a full-time crafter’s dream. She has made this empire for herself, and I got to meet her two years ago while doing a Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. She was very down to earth and nice. I really admire modesty in people who make it big.

What’s in your crystal ball in the next 5-10 years?
I hope to be a more national brand, and doing this full-time, maybe even with a little team [behind] me.

What’s the best part of being an artist?
[Being out and about] and seeing people you don’t know wearing your pieces. Nothing beats that.

Find Larissa Loden Jewelry online, or locally at i like youCliché, the General Store of Minnetonka, and digs studio. Nationally, find it at Space in Houston, Texas, and Nomad Body Piercing in San Francisco, plus many more.

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