From her Maple Grove studio, artist Christy Branham creates custom made, hand-stamped, personalized jewelry that marks some of life's most important moments. Think wedding dates and birth dates.
"It's not just a momento, it's something they can put on everyday," said Branham of her personalized sterling silver and gold charms that hang from necklaces and bracelets.
Sold under the Urban Sweetpea label, Branham started creating and designing hand-stamped, personalized jewelry four years ago as a hobby, but she soon found there was a market for her designs at local stores like Stonecrop in Maple Grove and the General Store in Minnetonka. Branham's designs are now carried at eight stores throughout the Midwest and nationally on websites like MaxandChloe.com.
"She is a nationally-known artist now, but she started out at Stonecrop," said Kathy Buley, owner of Stonecrop. "She has a huge following."
Last year, Branham's business grew by 300 percent. She's now creating about 400 pieces a week, and shipping out orders across the world. As the business grows, Branham brought on four employees to help her out with demand, but she's careful not to grow too fast.
"I literally look at every charm that leaves the studio, and it gets scrutinized before it leaves, and that's really important to me," said Branham.
As Branham creates both custom-made personalized designs and ready-to-wear pieces, she hopes her jewelry is the kind that will be passed down in families. As for her business, she ultimately hopes that too becomes something she can pass down to her three children.
"I would love to be able to build something that's successful that my kids can take over," said Branham.
Branham's jewelry ranges in price from $22 - $2,700 depending on the material and fabrication of the piece. Branham and her husband, Tom, donate a portion of the jewelry proceeds to local charities.
For more information, visit www.christybranhamjewelry.com.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
Monday, April 16, 2012