Harlow Jewelry’s new store is charming and inviting. Big windows let natural light pour in, picking up the glimmer of antiqued metals and illuminating the rich colors of gemstones.
For six years, owner Ruthie Crawford worked out of her home studio and just opened her first brick and mortar store with open work studio in 2015. “It helps to be able to separate home life from work life,” she explains. And she has good reason for this: Harlow is named after Crawford’s young daughter, whose birth actually spawned the beginning of Crawford’s jewelry-making career. A friend prompted her to try it as a creative outlet after having a new baby, and she quickly found she loved the process.
She soon had a website up and running. She decided to focus mostly on selling wholesale, and in the first year had her jewelry available in five different stores (out of her now 700+ shops across the country). Her very first wholesale customer, Fuchsia, helped her navigate the ins and outs of running a wholesale business. “I feel so lucky, so grateful, to have had that guidance at the beginning,” Crawford says. And indeed, the handful of wholesale customers she started with is still with her today, and she remains grateful for their generosity and support. Even with her own store now in place, Crawford wants to maintain these connections. “I love the relationships I’ve formed with my wholesale clients,” she explains. “I love being able to work with so many women-owned businesses and have us both succeed.”
The cause of empowering women, especially out of poverty, “embodies what I care about,” and Crawford feels passionate about being able to give back to her community through donations to various organizations, like Dress For Success.
The process of coming up with new ideas for jewelry lines is a fairly mercurial and subjective one, as two entirely new jewelry collections come out every year. It starts with the gems and beads that attract Crawford’s eye, evolves from there. She annually attends an international gem show in Tuscan, and searches for new gems to use throughout the next year. Crawford relies her own sensibilities: “I don’t look at trends or colors-of-the-year; I just go pick what I think is pretty.” It is important to her to have a wide range of price points, to keep her jewelry available and affordable to all who want to buy. From the steady growth of her business, it’s clear her instincts are good.
One of her favorite parts of the business is the care she takes with her wholesale and online customers. One of the ways she shows this is in how she packages the jewelry she ships. It pleases her to take special care: “I want them to feel like they’re opening a gift when they open a package from Harlow.”