Interview with Rachel Chen from Poppy Jewelry Designs

We are very excited to welcome jewelry designer Rachel Chen to the Happening Hands blog! Rachel owns Poppy Jewelry Designs based in Seattle, WA, and she’ll tell us a bit about her process and business story. You can find Rachel’s jewelry in her Happening Hands shop, and you can follow her on Instagram.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s the story behind you and your business?

I’ve been making jewelry for more than ten years now, I was taught when I was young by a family friend. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed making jewelry for friends and family, with a couple of small sales and craft fairs here and there. Last year, I finally realized my goal of opening a shop, Poppy Jewelry Designs, to share my jewelry with others. The name is in honor of one of my favorite wildflowers, and my favorite color: orange! I love camping, hiking, and learning plant names along the way. When I’m not making jewelry or on a hike, I love cooking, reading, taking care of my plants, and bullet journaling!

Where do you draw inspiration and motivation from? How do you stay creative?

I draw much of my inspiration from the various hikes and road trips I’ve been on. Whether that’s through color, texture, or design, many of my pieces were inspired by natural elements and special experiences on road trips, I’m especially inspired by the desert.

Zapata Falls in the Great Sand Dunes National Park inspired Rachel’s clear dangle earrings.

I also draw a lot of inspiration from various prints, shapes, and textures. Most of the time, I like to let the bead or stone shine on its own, as they are each so unique and detailed. I want to create classic, minimalist, long lasting pieces that people can wear as staple items. Most of my designs come to me right as I’m falling asleep, so I often have to jot down ideas or make a quick, messy sketch before I shut my eyes.

What’s your current favorite podcast, music, or tv show that you’re hooked on and why?

I’ve been absolutely loving Smartless, a podcast by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes. I’m such a fan of all of them (Jason Bateman is one of my top favorite actors!), and their conversations with surprise guests are just hilarious. When I’m making jewelry, I listen to a lot of different types of music, but a couple of my favorite artists are Anderson Paak, the Head and the Heart, Emily King, Toro y Moi, and Still Woozy. As for books, some of my recent favorites include Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, and the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Homegoing is an especially beautiful and rich read, I come back to it often.

Name one thing not many people know about you.

I’ve been living a low waste lifestyle for several years now, and love swapping zero waste tips and recipes with friends and family. I’m also a huge baseball fan! It’s a goal of mine to visit every major league stadium in the U.S (and Canada), so far I’ve visited 13! My favorites are Oracle Park (a bit biased since this is my home team, go Giants!), Fenway, and Coors Field.

What are your top three values in life?

I value authenticity, mutual respect for each other and the Earth, and community the most! I think it’s really important to understand that we are all interconnected, and live alongside nature, not above it. I’m so thankful for the mentors I’ve had in my academic and professional career so far who have really modeled these values to me, and taught me so much. I hope I can do the same for others as well.

Do you have any business challenges and/or goals you’re hoping to crush over the next 6 months?

I have quite a few goals I’m working towards. I make wooden bead necklaces as well, and I would love to perfect my natural dyeing technique!

Another goal I have is to make more one-of-a-kind pieces for people to treasure. I really enjoy making unique pieces, and have quite a few in my personal jewelry collection that I wear all the time. Finally, I wear studs 99.9% of the time, so I’m hoping to make more stud earrings in the future.

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