The BSpoken Designs Story

Posted by James Rich on



The BSpoken Designs Story

It has occurred to me recently when we were doing Kentucky Crafted: The Market, that many people know our story, of how BSpoken Designs came to be......but even more do not. So I believe this to be a good time and a great forum to tell you our unique story, of how two people (pretty much strangers at the time) kind of happened upon a really good thing and took a leap of faith. You just never know where life will lead you.......

At the beginning of 2012, our paths had never least not that we were aware of.  James, primarily a pen and ink artist, had been devoting some of his free time to volunteer work with special needs students at his son’s school. I was employed by Stamping Ground Elementary as a special needs para-educator, the same school James was volunteering.

It was by chance we worked with the same student.  After striking up a conversation with James about being an artist, I invited him to participate in a local art show I was doing with other artists in town.  Being a polymer clay artist in my spare time, I was in full swing making and selling simple polymer clay cane jewelry as a way to raise funds to help pay for treatments for my great nephew, Carter, who had been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis. We discovered that fateful night that we both shared a fascination for polymer clay. James had also been working in polymer clay back in 2011 with his wife, Jamie. He had taught himself to replicate his pen and ink drawing style into intricate polymer clay canes.    

A few days after the art show James asked me to create a necklace as a Christmas present for Jamie using his cane and my original, three-dimensional technique I had just developed. I was so excited about the new necklace I made I had to show all my friends at school. After receiving rave reviews, we realized we had collectively created something very special. Within weeks our collaboration became known as BSpoken Designs. We hit the ground running! By the end of 2013 we had juried into two of the state’s most coveted arts organizations, The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and the Kentucky Art Council’s, Kentucky Crafted Program and we were starting to do art shows.

Our jewelry can now be found in shops, boutiques and galleries in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. We also have an extensive show schedule doing about 10 shows a year. 

We've come so far in such a short time. There's just nothing like being fortunate enough to create wearable art and to be able to turn it in to a business. I, personally, never saw myself starting my own jewelry business even though my husband and others continually encouraged me to. I simply did not have the confidence to start one. There's something so very personal about creating art and showing it to the world. Art is "soul" work. It was very intimidating to create something, put a price on it and hope that someone buys it.

My canes were simple, not complex like the ones James made. When I made the first piece of jewelry with his cane for Jamie, my technique was instantly elevated by that cane.  Then when our families, friends and co-workers loved it, that was enough validation for me to consider making this a business collaboration with James.

I realized with this collaboration that I was finally listening to my own advice. For years I had been telling mostly my kids and kids that I work with (well for that matter, adults too) that if you don't believe in yourself, why should others. Each person has inside of themselves the ability to be what you want to be. No, it may not be easy....but it is possible.  You must always try, because if you don't, you'll never know how successful you can be. No regrets, right?









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