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Life & Work with Kristin & Chris Cooper of Kristin Christopher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin & Chris Cooper. 

Hi Kristin & Chris, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Chris and I met in a jewelry class in college. We graduated in metalsmithing, got married, and started Kristin Christopher in 1991. We did around 30 art fairs a year, traveling all over the country in our van with our German Shepherd. Thirty years later, our silver jewelry is still evolving, the van is now a Prius, and we’ve added two teenagers and three cattle dogs to the mix. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It was definitely not smooth at first! We started during a recession, long before social media and online stores. Our degrees were in art, not business, so survival was very much trial by fire. We read as many business and marketing books as we could. We drove an insane amount of miles per year to shows at a time when van life wasn’t cool. We were by far the youngest doing shows, and luckily for us, many seasoned artists took us under their wing. We also supplied more than 25 galleries and boutiques all around the country with our work. We often worked all night, drove all night, and ate an extraordinary amount of pb&j’s. It was the most adventurous, creative, and challenging time of our lives. 

After five years, we wanted to have kids, so we worked tech and creative corporate jobs for more stability and health insurance. hired Chris as an artist, and we ended up working together once again. We had a great time in LA doing web design and animation but missed making things with our hands. The web is always changing, and we missed making tangible items that last forever. 

We moved back to KC after our first son turned two to live closer to family. We started making jewelry again when it was time for me to return to work after having our second son. Our boys helped us at our first art fair, almost 8 years ago. We won an award, and we’ll never forget the looks of surprise and pride on their faces. Absolutely priceless! 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Chris and I have designed jewelry together since the beginning. Our pieces are truly handmade, with just our four hands. We create mostly one-of-a-kinds, and if we repeat a design, we like making each piece a little different from the next. We design individually and together, and after all this time, we still try to impress each other with our work. We’re always inspiring and influencing each other’s designs. 

We also find inspiration from the people who collect our work. When someone likes a piece so much they want to wear it, it’s incredibly rewarding. One of our customers recently said, “Artists need people — there’s an exchange of creative energy between the artist and the buyer.” We saw this in a new way when our shows were shut down for almost 2 years due to Covid. Creating in a bubble was challenging, and we are grateful for all the people who helped us make it through that surreal time by supporting our online shop and social media sites. 

We just did Art Westport and Lawrence Art in the Park, and it feels fantastic to experience the exchange of creative energy with the people who collect our work face-to-face again. We’re more inspired than ever to create new designs, and we’re excited to try some new avenues during the upcoming holidays and next year. 

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
We especially love the people here. We’ve met so many friends through our business — entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and jewelry enthusiasts. We really appreciate the thriving arts and entrepreneurial communities here and the way Kansas City shows up to support local businesses. It’s infectious. We also love living on the edge of this big city surrounded by trees and nature, the balance we need to be creative every day. Being close to Lawrence, where we met, is a big perk, too. 

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