Get to know Kate and Damien, the inspiring husband and wife team behind jewelry brand Flight of Fancy.
This post comes from our blog intern, Natalie!
Kate and Damien are two well-traveled artists creating something truly beautiful in their home in San Diego, California. Their company, Flight of Fancy, not only designs and produces exquisite one-of-a-kind jewelry, but all the materials used in the pieces are from sustainable sources.
I met Kate, one half of the talented duo, for the first time a little over a year ago. After just that initial introduction, I was intrigued to learn more about her and her husband’s story, and the background of the brand. With their unique designs that make beautiful crystal pieces wearable as necklaces and crowns, and their truly inspiring passion for their craft, Kate and Damien are change-makers in their field. I am humbled to have gotten in touch with the artists, gaining a behind the scenes look into their work space and daily lives.
Where did you grow up? How did this shape the people you are today?
Kate: I grew up in San Diego, and was absolutely blessed to. Both my parents are avid travelers, so we did a lot of traveling when I was young. Going somewhere like Egypt at the age of 11 was super eye-opening, and I always appreciated other cultures.
Damien: I grew up everywhere. My dad is a Captain in the Navy, believe it or not, but it meant that I got to see the world all before I was 18. Going to karate classes in Japan when I was 5 and being around kids who didn’t speak the same language as I did helped me see the world for the vast and varied place it is. I think we were both super blessed to have this at a young age.
When did you first get involved in jewelry making?
K: I first learned it on the road, traveling in India, as a way to make my travels last. When I got back to San Diego and began selling at a local farmers market, that’s where I met Damien – pretty much from that point on we were a team.
D: I’d never thought I’d be a jeweler – never even crossed my mind! At the time I was a leather smith (still am), and I’ve been everything from a painter to carpenter – I’ve always been good with my hands. We make a good team, and both our work became better when we came together to create.
How did your jewelry brand, Flight of Fancy, come to be?
A few years into our relationship we realized that we could sustain ourselves creating, and with a little extra business sense we decided to dive into it 110%. Building the brand has been a slow process, but that’s the way we wanted it to be – organic, happens naturally, and stays fun.
What does a typical day look like?
We are so blessed to get to work together, and to work from home having a separate studio in the back. Honest day’s schedule? We wake up, and may have a morning meeting in the bathtub! Then we set into our individual projects – Damien may be in our garage studio working on finishing and stone shaping or setting, I may be in the fabrication and design studio making orders. We usually take a nice siesta break in the afternoon to workout, do some yoga, walk the dog, and then we’ll work a little later into the evening. It’s great to be able to work together, but separately at the same time – I think it’s what keeps us loving one another!
Take us through your design process. What inspires you to dream up new pieces?
We are usually inspired by the stones first and foremost. Sometimes they’ll just BEG to be housed a certain way, and we oblige! Damien does a lot of stone shaping and polishing, which lets us get even more creative with the process. Inspiration hits at different times – sometimes it’s a song, a weekend getaway, or walking around a flea market.
What are your favorite materials to use?
D: I LOVE silver. It’s so easy to work with compared to harder metals! Recently we’ve gotten into wax carving and casting more, and I really take to that.
K: Sterling silver is definitely where we get to be most creative, which I love. I usually feel most inspired by quartz or turquoise – they always speak to me loudest!
All your materials and gems are from sustainable sources. Tell us more about this. Do you find it difficult to maintain these methods?
The hardest part about using sustainable materials are the stones themselves. Many mines around the world employ mining techniques that are neither good for the environment, nor the people working in them, which is so sad. We’ve spent a lot of time cultivating good relationships with specific gem suppliers, who’ve proven their dedication to fair trade employment, community building around the mine locations, and land rehabilitation once they’ve finished with a certain location. There are certain stones we’d love to work with that we just can’t, because finding sources that respect these principles are just too difficult, save from traveling to the source directly! Metal, on the other hand, is INCREDIBLY easy to work with post-consumer. To be honest, it’s easy enough that we can’t see why everyone doesn’t do it! Most silver in circulation is post consumer silver, and it’s so easy to melt down and re-purpose. Industrial scrap yards are a gold mine for good usable brass and copper. The little extra effort goes a long way energetically.
What are your favorite pieces of jewelry that you’ve ever designed?
K: As someone who’s always wearing a hat, I absolutely LOVE our crystal crowns. My hat collection is currently adorned with a few custom pieces I’ve kept for myself, as well as a Smoky Quartz Annie Crown. On the occasion I’ve worn our Take Flight crystal crown out in public, having little girls run up to me saying I look like a princess from “Frozen” just melts my heart!
D: All of them! It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m currently wearing our new Trio ring in Turquoise on the daily, and love it – it works for men and women alike.
What is next for Flight of Fancy?
Now that we’re working with some new fabrication methods, a whole new world has opened up to us, in both a design capacity as well as production ability. We are actively working on an extensive Men’s line thanks to Damien, and we can’t WAIT to have an established collection for the guys! More immediate future, we have a few more festivals on our schedule to work, and can’t wait to enjoy the rest of summer among our sweet festival family.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
K: My yiddish Aunt Bee would always tell me when something bad would happen, “Eh, if it’s the worst thing that ever happens to ya, you’re a lucky kid!”
D: To just do you.
Where is one of your favorite places you’ve traveled?
K: Rajasthan in India – particularly Pushkar or Udaipur. I feel a real heart connection to the desert gypsies out there. The food, the colors, the smells, the camels… it’s an indescribable world.
D: First and foremost is Yosemite Valley. It’s my happy place on earth.
What are some of the challenges you face owning your own business?
Neither of us have any business experience – we’re both artists. Figuring out how to legitimize our art into a business is tough! That and separating personal time and work – living and working together, it never seems to switch off!
What are three things you can’t live without?
D: You cornball.
K: Ok, how about cold brew coffee and our dog Tiggy.
D: My Katie for sure, oxygen, and friends/family
Being free means…
K: Not being pre occupied with the future, or held back by the past. Being able to be absolutely present in the moment, and appreciate everyone and everything around me.
D: To do what I want!
Thanks Kate and Damien!
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