A question that I get pretty frequently is “Why did we choose to make wooden earrings”?
Well. The answer is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Primarily, when we were first starting out, the problem we were trying to solve was, “How do we make a lightweight earring”?
Eureka over dinner.
During dinner, one evening in the summer of 2017 Judy, Jake’s mom, started going on and on about how much she loved these earrings that we saw online. “Why don’t you wear earrings?” I asked. I was curious because she had commented on earrings before but I had never seen her wearing them.
It turns out that Judy had worn earrings her entire life until about ten years before when she started to get ear pain. It started out slight enough for her to ignore but soon developed into unbearable pain. After talking to her doctor she realized that the large earrings she was wearing had done permanent damage to her ears. She tried off and on over the years to wear them again but every time she tried the pain would come back.
It was at that moment a lightbulb went off in my head. I said, “Judy, think of all the women who are in the same situation”! We could really help them. And from that moment the idea for WHITL was born.
Why wooden earrings?
We had honestly talked about wood early on but decided against using it because the only wood that we found that was lightweight enough was birch and the earrings we tested out of it fell apart. It was a bad material. The other woods we’re too heavy. It was a real goldilocks story. Then one day while researching materials that I came across a model making manufacturer. The wood they used was gorgeous. I read up on some eco-friendly composite wood materials on their website and wondered if I could use their material to make jewelry. I called them up for a sample and we made a test run out of this wood. They turned out perfect! Better than I could have imagined. After that, we got together and developed a few designs and started trying to get the word out about WHITL woodworking.
One of our best early designs was our cactus earring. Unlike most of our other designs, while made with walnut and maple composites, we also use a moss stained wood. One day while visiting John & Judy in Eastland, they suggested I stop by the Carousel by James and ask him if he had any advice. James has one of the most beautiful boutique stores in Texas. And I just happened to have the first samples of our wooden earrings. They were a hit! James loved them. He immediately wanted to put them in their store. That relationship has continued to this day. James takes the time to help us decipher fashion trends, navigate the wholesale industry and has been a sounding board on more than one occasion when I can’t figure something out. I am so glad I stopped in that day.
Partnering with boutiques to sell WHITL Wooden Earrings.
James started selling WHITL in mid-November. While he was ready to get started selling we still had a lot of work to do setting up an actual business. It was all we could do to keep his store filled! After that, I knew we had something special. I started partnering with some choice boutiques in West Texas and the panhandle. We have been lucky to find some amazing stores. The partners we have made on our journey this year hold a special place in my heart. We could not have started without the special people and businesses who believe in our story and love our wooden earrings. I have spent the past year focusing on developing our brand into a mature line that can compete with the big boys and in January we will be introduced at our first market at Dallas Market Center. But I could not have done any of it without our partners.
Doing something new is always frightening. I have always been a risk-taker but I am more cautious when I partner with other people. With John, Judy, and Jake partnering with me I have tried to be more cautious. So at first, I was skeptical about using wood as a medium for fashion, but now I am ecstatic about it and finding new ways to be creative with such unusual material. It isn’t just me. Everyone from Judy and Jake to our partners and customers has had input on how we design and what we create. It has been and always will be a team effort. Wood is naturally beautiful, lightweight and our customers love it! Wood for me has been a gateway for creativity that I never thought possible! I am excited to see where this material takes us and hopeful for the future of WHITL.