Episode 2: Finding the Sustainable Path with Susan Crow, owner of East Fourth Street Jewelry
The path to building a jewelry business focused on sustainability is different for every jeweler. Some jewelers make sustainable practices the cornerstone of their businesses right from the get-go. Others, like Susan Crow, owner of East Fourth Street Jewelry, in Northfield, Minnesota, learn about it later in their careers, deciding to transform the way that they do business. After a number of years working as a jewelry designer as well as a product designer in the consumer home goods industry, Crow became increasingly concerned about the environmental and ethical issues she saw in overseas manufacturing. She began to wonder if there was a different path to take. She decided that it was time for a change.
Today, Susan is recognized in the industry for integrating sustainability into her design process and business. She’s also the Responsible Practices Distinction winner in the 2019 MJSA Vision Awards. Along with making jewelry in her low-impact, environmentally conscious studio, she serves on the board of sustainably-minded organizations Ethical Metalsmiths and the Minnesota Jewelry Arts Guild. She is also licensed to make jewelry from FAIRMINED gold and silver by the Alliance for Responsible Mining.
In this episode, Susan shares her journey and discusses the challenges and overall rewards of building a responsible supply chain and adopting green processes.
- 2:50 - Susan’s beginnings in the jewelry industry
- 3:54 - Sustainability awareness, making the decision to return to school
- 4:53 - Launching East Fourth Street Jewelry, taking sourcing to the next level
- 5:30 - Getting connected with Ethical Metalsmiths, becoming FAIRMINED certified
- 7:40 - Making her studio more green, the jewelry industry’s ethical footprint, artisanal mining
- 10:00 - Susan’s approach to responsible jewelry design
- 11:15 - Changes and improvements in sourcing from suppliers
- 12:49 - How she handles marketing
- 14:09 - Susan’s main customer demographics
- 15:15 - Dealing with the administrative tasks, certification requirements
- 17:47 - Future plans and outlook on the sustainable movement
Related MJSA Journal Articles:
- Greener Paths (Members Only)- Jewelers share their personal journeys into sustainable practices. By Shawna Kulpa (April 2019)
- The Sustainable Story (Members Only) - How to talk about your responsible efforts. By John Shanahan (April 2018)
- Greener Ways (Members Only) - Green bench tips shared by jewelers who are taking an eco-friendlier approach in their shops. By Shannon L. Brown
Related MJSA links:
Mentioned in this episode:
- East Fourth Street Jewelry - Susan’s business located in Northfield, MN.
- Christina Miller - Sustainable jewelry consultant.
- FAIRMINED - Assurance label that certifies gold from responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations.
- Alliance for Responsible Mining - Independent initiative supporting artisanal and small-scale miners as well as creating and implementing standards for responsible mining operations.
- Minnesota Jewelry Arts Guild - a nonprofit organization focused on educating consumers about handmade jewelry, while promoting the work its member jewelers.
- Ethical Metalsmiths - organization of jewelers dedicated to supporting responsible jewelry practices through education, connection and action.
- Ethical Fashion Forum - collaborative movement focused on transforming social and environmental standards in the fashion industry.
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