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Dreaming of Jewelry

Cailey Passer is an accidental small business owner who moved west to learn about Native American silversmithing techniques to make her stunning jewelry

Starting Small

My business started on accident! I was making jewelry for myself and for friends because I could never find what I was looking for in shops. I was really interested in Crystals and found objects from antique malls and tiny junk shops in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. For the first couple of years I was completely doing it for fun along side working long hours at restaurant jobs. Things took off rather quickly though, and I was struggling to find enough hours to fill my orders after long days and late nights at work.

Evolution of Style

My style has done a complete 180 from the time that I started. At first I only had one style of necklace that incorporated crystals and bullet casings. From there I learned how to silversmith and thought I only wanted to make fine jewelry with gold, diamonds and stone setting. I think sometimes it's hard to take the lessons you are taught and apply them using your own artistic voice instead of the literal way you were taught for fear of doing it wrong. I developed the style I have today by a lot of trial and error and trusting the process along the way.

One of my absolute favorite pieces I've made was in the very beginning of my silversmithing journey. I really wanted to own a Native American vintage squash blossom but they generally run well over $1000-$2000. I decided I was going to really push myself and just see if I could make one. After two weeks of working solely on that piece- I had my very own squash blossom. (...For about a week until it sold!)

Cailey’s Mood Board

Facts and Favorites

Zodiac Sign: Gemini

Favorite Food: Los Angeles Food Truck Tacos or anything cheese related

Favorite Jewelry Designer: I’m drawn to jewelers and brands creating iconic pieces that you know them for. Some examples being Cartier’s Love Bracelet, Elsa Perretti’s Bottle Pendant and Bone Cuff, Pamela Loves Tribal Spike Necklace, Jennifer Fishers Samira Hoops.

What is the longest its taken you to make 1 piece: 36 hours!

I'm very particular when I source my materials. I also feel that the weight of a piece is very important- I hate when things feel flimsy. I use solid metals like brass, silver, and gold. Never anything plated. All of our castings are done by a small company locally. I also hand pick most of my stones during my travels because I feel that it give the piece soul. By the time my jewelry is in (or on) your hands, I want you to feel the journey and love it took to create it.

Words to the Wise

There are new obstacles that pop up along the way as you grow. One of the things that are the biggest obstacle right now is creating systems and organization within your brand to help business run smooth and efficiently. There's no instruction manual or rule book on that- it's up to you to create them - so I'd say that's definitely new for me.

I think you just need to trust in the process and commit yourself fully and see where it takes you. You also need to be stronger than your fears and also have a very strong work ethic. Consistency with your clients is also key. You also need the understanding and willingness to learn the MANY aspects of running a business if it does begin to take off. 20% of my time is doing what I want to do and 80% is doing what I have to do.

Find our more about Cailey and her company Sage & Brass here and on Instagram