Kellie Rode has a huge heart — she donated a dozen baubles for our Canton relief flash sale — and knows when it’s time to follow it.
In the late 70’s, she studied interior design at The University of Texas and later worked in the field selecting finishes for the City of Dallas’ buildings and airport terminal waiting areas. In 1980 she started her own interior design business and for 14 years had balanced residential design clients with raising her two children.
She loved making jewelry and did so as a hobby until 2004 when she started selling her handmade designs at small shows and holiday bazaars. Today she takes on an occasional interior design project but mostly crafts jewelry from her empty nest because it makes her heart happy.
We invited Kellie to the office to show off her process, pieces and inspire creative thinkers — and fellow empty nesters! — looking for a fulfilling passion project or job.
Where did the idea for your biz come from?
It came from friends encouraging me to take the leap from hobby to business. I’ve always loved making things and have been all my life but now I have more time so I took the leap.
Has the idea for Kellie Rode Designs changed from day one?
Yes, Kellie Rode Designs was originally my interior design business. But once I realized I was doing more jewelry I just decided to transition to that full time. I still do interior design for friends and family though.
Is your job role part or full time?
My jewelry biz is part time. I’m the only employee who makes jewelry but I do have friends and family who are helping me with web site, manning booth at shows and marketing.
How would you describe your jewelry line?
My style of jewelry design uses mostly one-of-a-kind bronze pieces that are not refined or perfect. I also make quite a few delicate layering necklaces and earrings, some chunky pieces too, lots of bright and fun colors. I find vintage pieces at estate sales and while traveling. I always look for the local flea markets as well as purchase stones and supplies at gem shows and from local stores.
Where do you sell your wares?
I sell at trunk shows, holiday markets, Beaucoup in Richardson, Artists Showplace Gallery, Etsy and of course, my fave, Flea Style! I’m excited for my site kellierodedesigns.com to launch soon!
What are your tips for working at home?
I can get distracted at my home studio just because it’s usually busy around here with kids stopping by, dogs wanting to go out to play, dryer buzzing, deliveries, etc. I have learned to stay put for 45 minute spells then I get up and stretch and give my eyes a break from focusing on tiny parts
Tip for people considering starting their own business?
My tip for someone wanting to enter the design biz would be to just start small and design what you like, what you would wear.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry to make and why?
I don’t have one favorite piece of jewelry. I just love the thrill of seeing how each one turns out. Because of the firing process in the kiln with the high temps each one of the bronze pieces shrinks, may or may not crack, bend or not so it’s always fun to see how they turn out. Some are smooth and sometimes they are very distressed. But it makes it fun for me to wonder what the results will be. It’s always a surprise.
Where do you find inspiration for your jewelry?
I find inspiration from vintage pieces that I pick up at estate sales and while traveling. Sometimes a special strand of stones will inspire an idea. Also, my customers have given me great ideas when they need a custom piece made. I do lots of those. Lately it’s been for wedding parties.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
I would encourage anyone who has the desire to start a business and already has something they enjoy to just jump in and do it. It’s really not just about making money. It’s about the people you will meet, the experiences you will have and the things you will learn along the way. It opened up my world in a way I could never have imagined.
What is your favorite way to relax?
My favorite way to relax is with my family and friends around a nice bottle of vino preferably in Italy but on my back porch will work too!
What inspires you and your designs?
The way I stay inspired is by keeping my eyes open and noticing what colors are currently in. I like to find new pieces to make molds of that might be nostalgic for myself or others. Often just a beautiful strand of stones can inspire a new idea for me.
Favorite vacation spot or vacation memory?
Favorite vacation spot is Positano or Lake Como and my favorite vacation memories are from traveling with my family in Italy after their college graduations.
It’s a weekday morning, what would you be found doing?
On a weekday morning you will find me making a cappuccino the old fashioned way and drinking it while reading emails.
Favorite hobby or thing to do (besides dreaming up your jewels!)
My favorite hobby is growing herbs, some veggies and lots of flowers and watercolor paintings.
Mornings or evenings?
Coffee or tea?
Tea, I drink it (Passionberry by Shangrila Teas) all day long.
Current favorite TV show?
I am currently binging on Bloodline and Damages. I watch lots of HGTV and Ina Garten too.
Savory or sweet?
That’s a hard choice….
“You guys” or “y’all”?
I love just about every color in nature. If I have to pick a favorite it would be seafoam green or red…. wait, I can’t pick just one.
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