What: Jewelry made out of metal and semi-precious stones. Often described as classic with a little edge, her unique style includes combining stones and metal to create four distinct lines that have been noted internationally and featured in USA Today, O and Martha Stewart Weddings. Prices range from about $50 to about $1,500.
Who: The lure to lustrous metals began as a child for Kristin Hayes. Her father, Johnny Hayes, a NASCAR team owner, took her to races, where she watched cars being built. “He always encouraged me to follow my heart,” she says. She graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in apparel and textiles, then found work as a production assistant for a brand-name designer in New York City. There, she says, she gained insight on how artistic jewelry can be incorporated into everyday fashion, then began designing jewelry for another company. After moving back to Charlotte to work in marketing, she decided to step out on her own. “I don’t follow trends,” she says. “I let the world inspire me. I think that’s why people say my jewelry looks modern, yet feels timeless … kind of like the women I design for.”
How: “I have two approaches to design,” says Hayes. “One is that I come across a vintage piece that inspires me and then I just start playing around. It’s almost arranging, more than anything, and then I just keep building until I like the design. I kind of follow the bread crumbs. The other approach is somewhat intuitive. I will just be doing everyday things and all of sudden a design idea comes to mind.” To craft her pieces, she sets stones, stamps, wire-wraps and rivets (she solders and uses cold connections in her work, too); she has two people who do casting and soldering work on her fine jewelry.
At peace with her place? “I am pleased with where I am today,” says Hayes. “I have high expectations for myself, so although I love where I am, I still have bigger dreams. The best part of my job is the people I get to meet and work with. I am also a big fan of the flexibility, which allows me quality time with my (6-year-old) daughter.”
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The role of jewelry: “A special piece of jewelry can make a woman feel especially beautiful, stylish,” she says. “Putting it on should be gratifying, empowering. When I design, I imagine the woman who will wear the piece, how it will make her day or evening, every time she puts it on.”
Favorite piece: “Usually I might say the piece I just designed,” she says. “I love the spark of inspiration. That said, I really love the custom number necklaces and gratitude necklaces from the new Johnny and Ann Collection.”
Details: kristin-hayes-jewelry.myshopify.com; 704-607-9050.
Find it locally: Sloan, Denim House, Poole Shop