People often ask us how we got started in this industry, and opened up a jewelry store. It’s not a very straight forward story, but here is a bit of a summary. We are a family business, founded in 2013 by Dustin Hutcherson. Dustin’s wife, Caroline and brother-in-law George joined him in the next couple years as the business grew.
The three of us all grew up on Kodiak Island in Alaska, and Dustin and Caroline were high school sweethearts. Even in high school, all three of them were always creating something. Dustin was welding sculptural lamps, George was creating animations with CAD, and Caroline was painting flowers.
Dustin and Caroline took jewelry and metalsmithing classes together in college in Alaska. One of their jewelry teachers claimed that one day they would have a successful jewelry store together, “with Caroline’s designs and Dustin’s technical skills.”
Caroline was already on a path into healthcare and went to physical therapy school in Montana. It was 2008 during the recession, and Dustin struggled to find consistent work, bouncing between jobs in Montana and Alaska. He was doing construction, maintenance, welding and fabrication, and working on snowmobiles. He even got hired at a jewelry store before it closed down. He then discovered a jewelry program a couple hours away from where Caroline was going to school.
Dustin took the opportunity and graduated with a degree in goldsmithing and a certificate in CAD (computer aided design). Already having jewelry experience prior to this program, he excelled and graduated early. His teachers then connected him to a jeweler in Portland who hired him in their fast-paced jewelry repair shop.
Dustin continued to make jewelry for his friends and family out of his garage. He loved that creating custom jewelry allowed him to utilize a variety of techniques and see a project completed from start to finish. After a couple of years, he decided to start his own jewelry business, initially doing contract work for other local jewelers. He had a vision of being able to control every step of the process, to ensure the best outcome and experience for every customer and every piece. He quickly outgrew his tiny studio under the Fremont Bridge and moved to his current location, in the Willamette building.
During this time, Caroline had been working as a physical therapist in Portland. Her mom fell sick in Alaska, and moved to Portland to receive treatment. Caroline found herself needing to take a step away from healthcare, at the same time Dustin’s growing business needed extra help. Caroline joined him to help the business grow, building a small showroom out of a room in the shop, and working with custom clients directly to put designs on paper. With her help, Dustin was able to decrease the work he was doing for other jewelers, and increase the work done directly with the customer who ultimately gets to enjoy his creations.
George also left his job in construction and moved to Portland to help take care of his mom with Caroline. He started apprenticing with Dustin to learn about goldsmithing and jewelry creation. He had already taught himself CAD in high school, and learned how to apply his artistic maker talents to jewelry. Now, Dustin has a creative, complementary team to provide a full custom jewelry experience from start to finish exclusively in our Portland studio.