Designer Ruthie Crawford
Established in 2009, & named after my daughter, Olivia Harlow
Handcrafted in Portland, OR by a small team of 2
I love making pretty things to make people feel happy. Most of my business is selling to other retailers. I love working with primarily women owned small business and being able to offer jewelry that is pretty, affordable, and handcrafted quality. It's important for me to give back, so I do that purposefully (see giving back page). I believe we are all in this thing together, and I hope to do my part.
A little more about me, if you want to know…
People often ask me how I got started making jewelry. It was more of a series of events than a mapped out plan. I’d been working in banking for 10 years and had a new baby girl. A friend of mine (literally) talked me into trying to make my own jewelry. I was convinced that it was something I would NOT be good at. But immediately after she showed me how to wire wrap gemstones, I was hooked.
I kept making pieces and would stay awake at night thinking of new ideas. One morning I was having breakfast next door to my favorite jewelry shop in Portland. I was with a cranky friend and my infant daughter. I wanted to go talk to the shop owner about Harlow to see if she would look at my jewelry- and I *almost* didn’t – due to the less than ideal crew I had with me. Determined, I went in anyway, and she said yes, she would meet with me!!! …and then she didn’t show up for our appointment.
I left my jewelry with her shop gal anyway and waited for the shop owner to call me. She didn’t call. Embarrassed and disappointed I assumed she hated it. I prepared myself to make the phone call of shame, and ask for my jewelry back. When I finally spoke with her, she said, “oh, yeah..I love it all, I’ll take it!”
I knew immediately that this was something I wanted to keep doing. (that shop owner is now one of my closest friends, by the way)
I worked in student loans at the time, and our segment of the industry was being eliminated. My layoff was imminent. I had no savings, the economy was still crashing from 2008, I had a new baby and a bad relationship – and I was determined to keep going.
I contacted store after store.
I learned and stumbled my way through learning how to run a business.
It wasn’t easy, but I loved it.
Blood, sweat, and many tears have gone into growing over the years. I have memory of myself working that first year of business that has stuck with me. We had just moved and had nothing set up yet. I would enclose myself in baby gates (to keep my 1 year old from getting to me and putting beads in her mouth) on the floor of our living room and work for hours – just to make jewelry for our, then ,7 stores.
Since that summer in 2009 when we got our first store account, we’ve grown tremendously. Harlow has been carried in over 1000 stores nationwide (and in Canada) over the years, and just opened an open studio and store in Portland, OR in April 2015.
I am crazy grateful for all of our growth and that I’m able to do something that I love so much. It wouldn’t be possible without my amazing team of women, support from friends, and our amazing retailers and customers.