As an artisan brand, Bronwen Jewelry solves a unique problem while maintaining an eco-conscientious mindset through operational transparency and industry partnerships. Bronwen Lodato recognized the need for jewelry that was strong enough to withstand the rigors of the outdoors but still is delicate enough to feel sexy while leading backcountry expeditions for Outward Bound.
We had the opportunity to learn more about the woman behind the brand and her entrepreneurial spirit. Allow us to introduce Bronwen Lodato.
Was there a defining moment when you knew you had to start treating your passion as a business and no longer as a hobby? Or did you always know this specific passion would become a business?
I was not that person that just forever knew that I'd run a jewelry business - making jewelry was just a hobby for me - although it was a hobby that I loved deeply and I felt almost viscerally pulled to. I did have a defining moment in 2009 at the Outdoor Retail show when the buyer for Sundance Catalog somehow found me and my jewelry sandwiched between a booth selling outdoor portable toilets and a booth selling outdoor portable toilet chemicals! They invited me to HQ in Salt Lake for a full private line showing the following day and I knew that if I could be discovered amidst all the other "crap" out there (pun intended!) then anything was possible and I better game up and go for it. So I did.
We’ve all heard the struggles of starting a business and the questions that keep entrepreneurs up at night, what habits did you develop or strategies do you use to keep your internal light shining bright even when you wanted to quit?
Self Care! Can I say it again? SELF CARE!! And yes it is both a strategy and a habit. Like most entrepreneurs, I cycle through periods of feeling totally lit up with ideas and feeling utterly overwhelmed by everything. The first thing I do is name it outloud right there and then when I begin to feel it - whether I'm in the grocery store or at home hanging out with my family. I say "Oh dear, I'm feeling overwhelmed!!" Then I give myself permission to feel crumply and uninspired and overwhelmed, knowing that it will pass...and so far it always has. If it ever DOESN'T pass then I'll know it's time to make some real change. My husband calls me a champion sleeper and if my sleep is interrupted by work anxiety I work to find ways to remind myself of my place in the much larger life picture. I always bear in mind that I am also a mom, a free spirited traveler, a partner in marriage, an outdoorswoman....I'm not JUST a business owner.
Now that your passion project has become your 9 to 5 grind, what passions do you practice to keep your creative juices flowing during your dusk to dawn hours?
I prioritize my needs without guilt. I am very self aware of what I need in order to stay both inspired and even-keel leading a team. For me, this looks like a daily yoga practice before I begin my work day, monthly massage, regular meet ups with girlfriends for hiking, skiing, biking, shopping, wine, or just sitting together talking. I hang out with my husband and daughter tons. Travel is a hugely important part of keeping my internal fire stoked and I intentionally create opportunities to travel with my family or friends multiple times a year. I also tuck into bed before 9pm most nights and read my book which gets me solidly out of my work head-space.
We know that your company and its individuals do good in many ways, what is the one do-good thing or principle you want more people to know about your brand and your team of badasses?
That's easy: We stand behind the integrity of our workwomanship. When we build our jewelry, it is with the intention that it will be bought once and we stand behind all of our jewelry with a lifetime warranty. Our jewelry is very high quality because it is crafted with high quality materials by high quality women.
What’s one more thing you want us to tell the world about your company?
I am not looking to build the next gigantic brand. I am not looking to explode. I recognize that our ability to scale is limited because I've chosen to craft our jewelry by hand in Bend, Oregon because it's a wonderful place to live and work and my team is happy and so am I! I have spent the last 12 years growing this brand with one enduring relationship after another and I do this because I truly love this Bronwen Jewelry community.