Small batch jewelry store full of hope for the return of the holiday season


Red Giraffe Designs founder Kate Stevens keeps special memories of her first holiday season in her Short North storefront.

Stevens is used to hard work and during that winter of 2015 she designed so much jewelry that in the end her hands were stained black from the paint of the engravings on her personalized stamped bracelets, and her face was sore. by dint of smiling.

The jewelry store vacation has been chaotic every year since, and despite approaching her second vacation season since COVID-19, Stevens is confident the Columbus community will continue to seek something as beautiful as the person to whom. she offers.

Red giraffe designs specializes in small batch personalized jewelry made from a variety of metals – some pieces hand hammered, others delicately wrapped in thread and many matched with beads on a chain. The store was founded by Stevens in 2009 in her parents’ basement with help from Google and her father’s toolbox, but she admits she didn’t identify her passion quickly.

Stay up to date with the vibrant Columbus business:Subscribe to the CEO’s weekly newsletter, Insider

Jewelry photographed at the Easton location of Red Giraffes Designs.

Instead, Stevens was a 2008 graduate of Ohio University with a retail major and a business minor, but when she graduated she wasn’t sure what she would do, and with the recession, no one was hiring. She tried designing t-shirts and even creating home decorations, but knew it wasn’t her niche.

But as she watched design videos on YouTube, a tutorial on making earrings started playing and it sparked her interest. Her next move was to go to the hardware store for some aluminum wire, then return home to find some old beads and pliers – the rest is history.

“It was really a hobby… I had no idea what I was doing, or I never thought I was going to make it a long-term business,” says Stevens. Soon she was selling to over 25 craft shows each year and couldn’t track her orders online. In 2015, she opened her boutique Short North.

“Intrepid is definitely the word I would use to describe myself in this era,” says Stevens. “I never thought of failing, it never even crossed my mind.” And the name came just as naturally as her business idea: she loves giraffes and the color red.

Today it has two other locations besides its first one: Grandview, opened in 2017, and Easton Town Center, opened in 2018. It also has a design studio in Short North. This year the store was voted first place in the jewelry category for Best Columbus Weddings.

But business has not gone smoothly, she says. In its years of owning the store, COVID-19 ushered in the toughest year and a half of entrepreneurship.

Stevens’ team grew from 16 to four employees, and his designers created makeshift studios from their homes. In December 2020, she decided to close her old German village location to focus on her other locations and rewrite her plans.

“If I’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that I want to have goals, of course, but I also have to focus on the day-to-day,” Stevens says.

One of those short-term goals was to launch a brand new website in April where it rolled out a local pickup option and offers free shipping on online orders of $ 20. As state guidelines have fluctuated, her online activity is a major driver, she says.

And in all three of its stores, it continued to thrive. In October, it reached 13 employees, many of whom were rehired. For Meghan McCloskey, who has been at the store for two years, the comeback has been easy with a boss like Stevens.

“Kate is very approachable,” says McCloskey. “She encourages us to try new things, to share inspiration and to collaborate with each other … It’s like a small community of creation.”

Red Giraffe Designs downtown Easton location.

With the holidays fast approaching, Stevens plans to hire seasonal staff to handle the influx, especially at her location in Easton, which she expects to be the busiest. And as she heads into the holidays, she’s very grateful for what brought her here.

“Looking back, I’m really glad no one wanted to hire me,” she says, “or I wouldn’t have discovered that I love making jewelry. “

Jess Deyo is associate editor.

Red giraffe designs

Pitches: Easton Town Center, Short North / North High Street, Grandview Avenue

Business: Small batch handmade jewelry shop and other accessories and selected products

Founder: Kate Stevens

Employees: 13

2020 turnover: Would not disclose.