Forged In Friendship
Cate Florey Studio, Granite Falls
There is a story behind every local maker and business owner. An experience that inspired them or changed who they are. A person that gave them a little nudge in the right direction. A passion that they’ve had their whole life or just recently discovered. These are things you find out if you take the time to stop and listen, to ask questions, to find out more about what you are purchasing and who you are purchasing it from.
Now, as someone who gets to hear these stories a lot, I can say that they aren’t always going to be something that inspires you or brings tears to your eyes. But sometimes, if you are lucky, they do. It has happened to me more times than I can count. Regardless of that, every story and person behind it is worth getting to know and, if you are lucky, you might just find a friend in the process.
Cate Florey, is someone that not only has a story to tell, but is someone you won’t be able to resist wanting to be friends with once you meet her. More importantly, you will be inspired to create. That is because you aren’t just getting one-of a kind piece designed by a local maker, you have the opportunity to help design it yourself. And the best way to do that is by attending one of the many Ladies Night, seasonal, and other events that she hosts at her studio.
The SnoCo Kid and I were fortunate enough to attend one of her Ladies Night events last month and had a blast. When I got the invite, I thought cool, we are going to show up, take some pictures for the article, maybe make a piece for ourselves. What happened was so much more than that though, and after just one night, I can see why Cate loves what she does so much.
The evening was spent with a studio full of local women, all different ages, different backgrounds, different ideas in mind when it came to the piece they were looking to have made. As each one worked through what word or words they wanted to include, what metals and add-on’s they liked, there wasn’t silence. No, instead there was stories told, laughter, and all out silliness the later it got.
It was an amazing night, one that I am very grateful for it. It was hours of fun, smiles, and laughs, when I needed them most. It was a welcome reminder of why I do what I do and that there are still stories to be told. More importantly, it was an opportunity to create something beautiful that I can’t wait to wear (catch my bee inspired necklace in the next photo).
Now that I’ve talked her up, here is Cate’s story and more about her busines in her own words …
How did you become a jewelry designer, and why hand stamping?
Eight years ago my husbands job transferred us to Washington from Southern California. It meant having to leave behind a successful career in residential real estate, but it was also an opportunity in more ways than one. Relocating meant being able to stay home with my twin seven year old girls and it meant being able to live a more simple life: living on a small farm, some land to enjoy, chickens, a garden and alpacas. It was the kind of life I’d always dreamed of having.
Once we had moved and all of the boxes were emptied, I found it wasn’t entirely a dream come true. It was lonely and I struggled to find a connection. That wasn’t the only thing I’d found though. While unpacking, I came across a gift that I had received from one of my last real estate transactions, one that inspired me and changed the course of my life.
The gift was from a ninety year old woman named “Elva,” who had taught boat building to high school students in the 1960’s. One afternoon, she and I were talking about hobbies, and I shared with her how I had always wanted to learn how to hand stamp jewelry. It was something that I discovered after receiving a piece of adoption jewelry when my husband and I were adopting our twin girls. I felt so blessed by the gift that I wanted to learn to create another piece.
After hearing my story, Elva said, “I think I have something you could use,” then dashed out to her wood shop and returned with this heavy black box. When I opened it, I was shocked. Inside was a large block alphabet metal stamp set. “These are what we used in the classroom to stamp their initials on the oars,” she shouted at me. They weren’t exactly what I had envisioned for making my delicate hand stamped charm necklace, but I was stunned and grateful that she would give them to me.
Finding that heavy black box while unpacking, and remembering that story, inspired me. It gave me something to do, to create, and a way to build new connections. Eight years, and fifty or so font sets later, I still keep Elva’s alphabet stamp set on my bench and I think of her every time I look at it.
Where do your designs and sayings come from?
Most of my pieces are custom one-of-kind hand stamped jewelry. Customers will often come to me with a special word, sentiment, or date in mind and ask for design inspiration. We then work to find elements that will to create the piece they are envisioning. As it all comes together, I feel just as surprised as they are by how beautiful the designs turn out.
Where can people buy your pieces?
I have a small Etsy shop and this year I have started a website as well. Most of my sales are on my Facebook VIP private group, Instagram or in person at my studio or at local events.
I specialize in Ladies Night out parties, classes, birthday parties, make and takes and special events held at my studio, located on a farm about four miles North of Granite Falls. Women gather and I create their custom jewelry as they enjoy food, visiting with each other and great music. They love that they are greeted by my alpacas as they arrive and the peaceful surroundings my studio offers.
My upcoming events include:
Ladies Night Out on October 17th, in studio
Harvest Festival on October 26th, in studio
Getchell High School in Marysville on November 9th
Facebook VIP Sale on November 12th, in studio
Christmas Open House on December 7th, in studio
What is your favorite thing about owning a local business?
I love that my passion for loving people and hearing their story connects through my jewelry. Women come to me and share their words, their stories of hurts, dreams, last words of loved ones or words they wish they had said to loved ones. These words and stories feed my passion and inspire me. They are a testimony to healing and strength that keep me going.
What role has the Granite Falls community played in your business, and what are your favorite local businesses to shop there?
When we moved to the Granite Falls we plugged into the library and local businesses. I met the people and fell in love with their hearts and goals for the future of this community. Living here has also given me the opportunity to create scenic jewelry (Lake 22, The Mountain loop highway), as well as designs and words of encouragement and support that reflect this community for local businesses, fundraisers, and events.
I have two favorite Granite Falls businesses, because you can’t have one, without the other! Hanky Pies first, for their amazing coffee and farmhouse atmosphere, then Rustic Redemption for a warm welcome and treasures from the past that find new life when they find you!
Find out more and buy at www.catefloreystudio.com