Interview: Sonder + Stone

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Ignorance is bliss. Except when it comes to fashion. An individual who does not understand the value or the power of fashion should take a look around. Artists love fashion and use it well as an alternative medium. The only difference with fashion is that a person is the ultimate canvas. Clothes dominate the fashion world; there can be no doubt there. However, there is a mode of style that adds onto the clothing universe. That glimmer of elegance is jewelry. All the shiny gold or silver bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pins bring about a final touch to clothing worn by both men and women.

Now, I admit that I am not the best judge of fashion being that my idea of looking good is through explosive and colorful attire. I would consider myself a fan of jewelry though; I wear three bracelets on my right wrist at all times and love a great watch on my left. Recently, I began to follow and watch a friend of mine, Kristen Friedrichs, break into the jewelry world with her new venture called, Sonder + Stone. I decided to learn more about her introduction into the space and became even more impressed with the amount of dedication and creativity that was involved.

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Kristen shared with me her beginnings with this ambitious project: “The initial start was sheer spontaneity, stemmed from years of style admiration. I’m an insanely passionate person, always in need of a creative outlet. I have spent many years wanting to create my own accessories that represented [my] style and identity. I decided to just dive right in, and am so glad I did. I was also the little girl who shook down my neighbors by selling lemonade [and] washing cars. You name it. The love for business runs strong through my veins!” She got that right. Kristen is making the magic happen at home in Alberta, Canada and abroad in her own Etsy shop which has helped make this dream a reality.

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Kristen’s main focus has been using stonework and various types to create a uniquely natural touch to jewelry. Her work has tons of color and organic flair that resonates. “Truly, I enjoy any time that a risk is taken, and it works out! Creating necklaces with stone as the accent always gets my heart fluttering. [A] majority of the time, I’ll fall in love with a piece I’ve made, and think, ‘I need to make one of these for myself.’ I will get [straight up] giddy about the entire process; I honestly would lose interest if that spark wasn’t there for it. Seeing the beauty and magic created by nature, its elements and shapes inspire me. Any time a shipment of stones comes in I think, ‘Yep, this is why I’m doing this.’”

Kristen is in the early stages of this intense exploration into jewelry and already she has big plans for her next projects. “… There are actually two I have dreamt a long time about making. There is a way of casting metal that has it coming out very textured and rough looking, when a stone is set into it, looks like its coming out of a boulder of gold (think Yves Saint Laurent rings). That style has been a creation goal of mine forever. The second has a story. I moved to the mountains and started working at a rock and gem gift shop that sold every type of stone and fossil. This is what ignited my passion. Working in that environment you learn so much. I had always admired these gorgeous bracelets that were hundreds of dollars and set with mismatched rough stones and fossils. I love that one-of-a-kind look. When you see Sonder + Stone bracelets set in silver or gold bezels, you will know I’ve reached my life goals.”

Kristen has a great work ethic that is only matched with here patience on difficult projects. “Oh, everything has been a learning experience! I have been self-taught up until this point, so I have made mistakes. I’m a fairly particular person, so if something doesn’t have that ‘oomph’ factor I need, I’ll move on. That part is always frustrating, when you can’t bring a vision fully to life. I remember starting [a] necklace with different stones and beads and just throwing it on the table, and walking away. Sometimes letting the simplistic beauty shine is what its all about.” Simple and sweet, I always say.

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Jewelry is another product that has blown up in modern times. There is so much great stuff available. Kristen shares her views on the jewelry world: “I like to think that there is something out there for everyone. I love when stores aren’t afraid to take fashion risks, but at the same time, mass produced goods leave less individualism. I think it’s important as a designer to stray away from trends and just make the type of jewelry that represents your own, personal style. People who like to buy artisan jewelry tend to look for pieces that are unique or one-of-a-kind, [that’s] where Sonder + Stone fits in.” Kristen’s work is both special and applies to many customers far and wide. Fueled with color and rich nature, each piece offers a chance to explore jewelry in its aesthetic element. Her work is both sophisticated and rustic, which is the best of both worlds.

With her main medium being in stone, she hopes to broaden her horizons with other mediums down the line. “… Stones will always be a huge inspiration, just letting the beauty of nature do the talking. Lately, I have been playing with different mediums such as sculpting geometric shapes with clay. I’ve also recently enrolled at the Alberta College of Art & Design for Jewelry Making courses. You will likely see my progression as I learn [metal work] and gem setting, and move into fine jewelry. There will always be an element of learning and experimenting going on, you can never think you have it all figured out.” I agree completely, artists to test the waters for all of their work at some point to unveil new roads. With each new road there is an innovative perspective that enriches the design and quality of the work at hand.

Currently based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Kristen hopes to expand her business. “Absolute life goals, to have my stuff in magazines, worn in fashion shows, international stores… I’ll always be reaching. The goal is expanding, I am open to whatever direction or opportunities come. If I can be totally honest, I’m still celebrating every small victory, like getting my stuff into local stores, making sales out of country, selling at my first show. Those thrills are not lost on me. Things have come together so quickly with Sonder + Stone, that I know it’s important to step back and enjoy the ride.” Totally dig the modesty and ambition here. Kristen will reap the benefits of each new venture and soar to new heights.

I have been fortunate to have followed Sonder + Stone from the beginning on some of the jewelry adventures and am still amazed at the creativity unleashed. I asked Kristen if there was anything she could add or change about her work or jewelry in general. “… I continue to be so inspired by those around me, the answer to this is simple, I want to educate myself as much as possible to get to a ‘fine jewelry’ status. Up until this point, I’ve been self-taught, and I’m ready to hit the next level. There is no end; I hope to always be learning, evolving, and bettering my craft.”

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Luckily, Kristen has many areas of inspiration in her work and studies to help master that craft. She had no problem giving examples: “I’m so inspired by the creativity of other jewelry designers, it has helped me to realize the possibility of hitting the niche groups of people who march to the beat of their own drum. Heavy hitters who have deeply inspired me are Alexis Bittar, Kimberly MacDonald, and Yves Saint Laurent Jewelry. These style icons have pushed the boundaries on style. Independent designers I’ve followed for a long time are Lissa Bowie, Unearthen, and Nallik Jewelry. I could go on forever. I appreciate anyone who embraces all that is eccentric, and finds the beauty in it. The great ones think of what typically makes something beautiful, and then proceeds to challenge that.”

This girl has no plans to slow down. She is bent on taking worthwhile developments to the next level. “I’ve always been a very passionate person, but the love I’ve found in creating is unmatched. I must continue pushing forward [because] it’s therapeutic. In addition to furthering my jewelry skills in art school, I hope to soon introduce a line of hand-painted silk scarves to expand the brand… The things that come next will be impulsive and delicious. There are no limits.” I am super excited to see what this woman does next. Prepare for some excitement and a fresh taste on the fashion world. Be sure to buys some of her stuff and wear it with pride. Please enjoy!

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