We feature Heidi Lowe in the new ftb on education, which is out now. During her 30 years as a jeweler in Rehoboth, Delaware, she has divided her time among custom jewelry for her clients, creating her own designs, and teaching jewelry classes both at her studio and universities.
With all the recent upheaval due to COVID-19, I touched base with her to see how she is doing. I was amazed by what she related.
The last time we spoke, her business had outgrown its 450-square-foot cottage/studio. Her contractor husband tore it down and is building her a 1650-square-foot shop with plenty of room to grow. Meanwhile, she had rented a tiny studio in a nearby town. ”I envisioned having time to focus on my own designs, and learn new techniques. Instead, I ended up busier than ever and able to keep the two younger jewelers I employ, working with me.”
Then COVID-19 hit. “I had no idea what it would be like or how I’d make it through,” she says. ”I figured it would be bad for my business, but beyond that, I had no idea. I have to say I didn’t imagine how well things have gone. I just had an amazing month. I’m busy every day, and I have a different focus.”
Heidi credits her long-time customers — some local and some who have moved away from Delaware — and her strong relationships with them. Before COVID-19, her studio and website featured 10-12 pieces by each of 50 designers she’d come to know over the years. She concentrated her work on her custom design clients, small collections, and her teaching.
Now she’s devoting herself to new designs and showing them on Instagram. “People message me if they want to buy a piece. Honestly, customers are buying everything I make. It’s out of the goodness of their hearts,” she says. “They want to be sure I’m surviving the shutdown. I find their concern very . . .” Her voice trails off.
She’s making most of her pieces in sterling with prices ranging from $150-$350. But she’s also had ten significant orders. “This involves phone calls and sending sketches and pictures back and forth until my customer is happy with the design. I’m inspired by how much they trust me.”
She has a lot of work right now, and she’s using the opportunity to nurture her creativity. This is how she imagined this time while she waits for her new store. “I get better results, and clients are happier with what I create. It takes me longer to work this way, but I enjoy it, and customers are willing to wait.”
Heidi has always put extra effort into building close relations with customers, and during this challenging time, this work had paid off. “I’m naturally interested in understanding people, and it’s an important part of the designs I’m creating for them,” she says. “They want to know about me and my creativity because it makes each piece of jewelry special and personal.”
During this time, Heidi has given back to her creative community by offering her popular webinar, Abundance for Creatives, free. “Participation was incredible,” she says. “So I gave it twice. In one, I had 75 people, and 73 in the other.”
What lies ahead? Like the rest of us, Heidi isn’t really sure. She’s designed a line of gold jewelry and carved them, but she doesn’t want to cast he pieces until she’s open fulltime.
For more on Heidi’s store, click here.