The year Risa Regory became a yia-yia (a Greek term for “grandmother”), she also became a full-time jewelry designer. For Regory, 2009 was a year of new beginnings. Although she had experimented with jewelry making for a couple years, it was still a just a hobby that also supplemented her day job. The birth of her granddaughter, Amaree, however, inspired Regory to rethink her lifestyle.
With an established customer base, Regory rebranded her jewelry line as Amaree & Reese in 2011 and began showcasing minimalist metal designs. “When [Amaree] was born, I thought, ‘Man, I’m at work five days a week, eight hours a day. The only time I get to see her is on the weekend,’” explains Regory. “I wanted to create something for myself where I could make an income and have a little bit of time [and] freedom.”
After she tried hosting home parties for a jewelry company and decided she disliked the format, Regory says her husband was the first to push her to consider designing a line of her own. Once she overcame her hesitation, Regory spent hours carefully studying YouTube videos. Armed with a pair of ordinary craft scissors and a fresh piece of sheet metal one evening, Regory began cutting and assembling her new designs. She was hooked.
The Portland native says loyal customers, weekly street fairs, local boutiques, and the countless jewelry designers who have shared techniques of their own all helped in shaping Amaree & Reese today. Even with the impressive growth of her business, Regory wants to keep her operation small to ensure each piece is creatively handled and cared for by her. “I want to say, ‘I want a big storefront and I want 20 employees…’ But I really don’t. I think what’s next… [is learning] how to be a highly skilled metalsmith.”
Written by: Jenni Moore & Emilly Prado
Photos by: Joshua James & Cervante Pope
Published: November 2017