Jenni Babcock is the owner and jeweler behind the brand Jenni B Jeweled. Her style is vintage and rustic, using metals and leathers, along with keys and words from old books. Aliya Hall/The Creswell Chronicle
Jenni Babcock of Springfield said she found her jewelry style when she started to look at the use of items a little bit differently. When she ordered vintage watch faces from Ukraine, she said it didn’t look right putting them in as bracelets – then she had the idea to put them into necklaces and earrings.
”I recognized I could take pieces I loved and change the use of them to make them work in a different way,” she said. ”I made jewelry (before) like my style, but it wasn’t my niche until the vintage pieces. I stopped doing things that didn’t feel like me; this is very much who I am.”
Jenni B Jeweled’s style is vintage and rustic, encompassing keys, license plates, metal and leather with words and pictures from old bibles, postcards and dictionaries. Each piece has its own story, and is truly unique.
Babcock has been making jewelry longer than she’s been selling it, although she said she has always been crafty. After her divorce, she helped out a friend of hers who was pursuing jewelry making as a career. As she was helping her, Babcock realized she might be able to pursue jewelry as well – especially because even her original work was different from most jewelers, focusing more on chunky, bolder pieces.
The hardest part of running Jenni B Jeweled was coming up with prices, Babcock said. She doesn’t describe herself as a business woman, and said she’d rather have friends over, make and give away the jewelry than sell it.
”The business side was the downside of me starting something,” she said.
The response she had received from the community, however, made her realize she could support herself with this during the summer to winter months, when she isn’t tutoring 25 to 30 hours a week.
”I realized my style, which is very different from a lot of people’s, people are liking,” she said, ”and that’s really exciting.”
One staple of Babcock’s jewelry making is hammering and soldering. She said her family has gotten used to hearing the hammering, especially after a package arrives full of supplies. It’s a noisy enterprise – cutting leather, hammering, torching, soldering, stamping, hole punching and grinding.
”Before the bench grinders, I was doing everything by hand,” she said. ”I really want my hands involved as much as possible.”
Although it depends, an average bracelet takes around 30 minutes to make and a soldered necklace takes around an hour. She also tends to work on multiple pieces at once, to shorten the time.
Jenni B Jeweled generally sells her pieces in jewelry fairs, such as at the Eugene Holiday Market or Junction City Scandinavian Festival, but has also recently sold at shows in Cottage Grove and now in Tigard. She also sells in Springfield stores: Gilt + Gossamer, Sweet Salvage and the Vintage Industry, as well as in California stores and on Etsy. She is also open to custom work.
”Customer service is really important and everything is guaranteed,” she said. ”I always fix everything.”
Her favorite method of selling jewelry, however, is in person.
”I love the interactions of face to face,” she said, ”I can talk to people as they’re looking at it and tell the stories about each thing.”
Babcock’s favorite aspect of the jewelry is to see it resonate with her customers. She had one necklace with a picture of nightshade and its definition that hadn’t been sold for awhile, until a ”young, goth woman” came along and found it to be perfect for her. Another customer’s brother recently passed, and she started crying when she saw a bracelet that had the word ”Remember” stamped in it.
”It’s having them admire what I admire,” Babcock said. ”The things I put a lot of time into. I try to be inspirational and sweet (with the words she chooses). This is a passion of mine. Knowing it has touched (customers) deeply is really rewarding.”