Inclusive By Design, The Heart Of Glitter And Gold Studio

Inclusive By Design, The Heart Of Glitter And Gold Studio

When I opened the doors of Glitter and Gold, I knew that the primary goal of my studio was to focus on being a welcoming and inclusive space. While I’ve been creating custom jewelry professionally for 30 years, creating a space of my own in 2021 meant I could choose the furniture, paint, tools, and layout… and I also got to decide what my mission as a company would be. As it turns out, that mission is deeply connected to me personally. While I normally like to focus on celebrating my client’s stories, I’d like to tell one of my own.

When my daughter Rose came out first as Bisexual, and then Transgender, at 16 years old, it was both joyful and frightening all at the same time. We have always been close, and I’m so grateful that she felt safe with me to talk about her gender identity. The first thing we did was pop open The GSBA Directory (a wonderful Seattle area “yellow pages'' of LGBTQ+ owned and allied small businesses) and looked for a therapist that could guide her on her journey. 

After the work she and her therapist did, it was time to start affirming her identity, helping her to bloom into the “Rose” she is.  One aspect of her transition entailed clothes shopping and working on her hair, which should have been an exciting time to take my daughter to the mall and stores to explore some girly time!  However this excitement was tempered with a lot of trepidation and safety concerns…a common experience for transitioning teenagers, who may not appear as their gender right away.  

In our quest to define her style and find flattering clothes, we embarked on a series of ventures without much guidance.  Our first attempt at Bainbridge Island's Rotary Auction, where clothes were priced by the bag, allowed us to experiment at home. We concocted a cover story to mask our uncertainty, yet the process felt uneasy. Our journey continued to Old Navy, where the non-gendered dressing rooms, placed in the center of the store, exposed her to public scrutiny as she tried on various outfits. Instead of being joyful explorations and fun shopping trips, these experiences were eye-opening for us, fraught with anxiety and discomfort.

Of course, having me as the “mama bear” there was helpful, but I couldn’t help reflecting on the fact that I wouldn’t always be there for her to keep my head high when she could not. 

On the flip side, when we went to get her hair done, we went to a good friend who now owns his own salon (Jonny Levi Salon).  He welcomed Rose with open arms, understanding what it meant for Rose to have someone ask the “right” questions, who understood what the pain points might be for someone in the beginning stages of transition. 

Even better, when Rose had some dysphoria (feeling uncomfortable with her outside appearance not matching her inner self) in the chair, she felt comfortable enough to reach out to Jonny and talk about what would make her experience better. Jonny was open to learning and growing with Rose, not only to help her more effectively, but to also be able to help his future trans clients as well. The experience was a beacon that showed me a path for my business: to put inclusivity, growth, and openness to learning front and center. 

So when I opened my store, I knew I would place my focus on helping every single person that comes in to feel honored in their human-ness and treated with dignity, kindness, and fairness. Their gender identity, sexual identity, relationship structure, race or religion will be treated with the love and celebration it deserves. After all, there is a “magpie” in all of us that loves shiny things… I want to be the space that celebrates every sparkly person!

When you walk through my doors, you won't find assumptions; you'll find curiosity. I’ll ask open-ended questions because I genuinely want to understand who you are, and what you are hoping to create with your jewelry. Creating custom jewelry is an ongoing journey of exploration, learning, and adaptation and I want to ensure that your experience here is not just transactional but meaningful too.

Creating custom jewelry is, in and of itself, an inherently inclusive act because together we are creating unique and one-of-a-kind jewelry from scratch. We aren’t fitting ourselves into the box of traditional, mass-produced jewelry styles, with their often outdated gender norms of sizes and styles and relationship structures…. 

In fact, I had a conversation very recently with a gentleman who told me a story about how he had gone into a jewelry store and was (without being asked) taken over to the “men’s jewelry” section. When he asked why there were no big, sparkly gems in this section, he was told “that’s not men’s jewelry”…  What!?  Ugh…C’mon…

Starting every project from scratch means we can really get to the heart of what YOU like, not what you are told to like,  and not just what the algorithms are showing you.  You’ve probably noticed that when you are looking for engagement or wedding bands online, they all look the same.. that’s because most of the jewelry sold online is actually being produced at a dozen or so manufacturing houses focused solely on trends, not what fits you and your own relationships.

At Glitter and Gold, making a custom piece of jewelry is centered around your unique stories.  So we start the process with a personalized approach, getting to know who you are and finding out how we can use jewelry to express who you are.  Each step of the way is an opportunity to learn, to experience how fine jewelry is crafted, and to guide you through the decisions so that the creations we make stand the test of time.

Diversity and inclusion are not “just business” practices for me; they are the heart of what I do. I’m a proud member of The Gay-Straight Business Alliance (The GSBA), Equally Wed, The Rainbow Wedding Network, and Strands For Trans. I’m also excited to be sponsoring the 2024 season of the Puget Sound Pronouns, a trans and non-binary softball team playing in the Emerald City Softball C division. These affiliations represent my commitment to learning and creating an environment where every client feels seen and heard.  

And, I’m also not new to the fight for equity…Beginning with marching in the early 90’s protesting the lack of AIDS research, I knew that speaking up about these matters mattered.  I’ve been a member of the GSBA for over 14 years with my former employer/studio, and have been creating inclusive jewelry for my entire career… It’s just that now I get to center this inclusive approach at the heart of my business.  

My ultimate goal is for Glitter & Gold to be recognized as Seattle's premier inclusive jeweler creating the same safe space and inspiration to other small business owners the way Jonny was for Rose and I.  My second goal is to have a Glitter and Gold GSBA Scholarship, where LGBTQ+ students can pursue higher education even if they don’t have family support to do so.  That may take some time, but it will happen! 

I want every visitor, both in-person and virtually, to embark on an experiential, educational, and joyful journey in creating jewelry that will in turn be future heirlooms for future generations to enjoy... And yes, it's a bit selfish – I want the world to be a place where my daughter, and everyone's loved ones, can walk into any store and be met with nothing but kindness, compassion, and respect.  No “mama bear” required!

So, if you're looking for a jeweler who values inclusivity, authenticity, and the unique beauty of your story, I invite you to experience Glitter & Gold Studio. Because at the end of the day, I believe everyone deserves to have their heads held high both coming in and leaving my studio (with a little sparkle in hand too!)

I am looking forward to crafting something special together!  Let's chat!

P.S.  This article was written with the full permission and support of my daughter Rose, who approved the final copy. 

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