Commanding Presence, Nostalgic Soul, Bleeding Heart.
When I started Buffalo Lucy in 2009, my wife and I had just had a baby with a major medical diagnosis. We were both working full time office jobs and desperately trying to find a way for one of us to have a more flexible schedule. I had taken up metalsmithing about a year before, and after some initial success with an Etsy shop, we decided to take the plunge and I quit my day job.
The first piece of jewelry I created that really took off on Etsy was a simple engagement band originally designed for a genderqueer client who wanted something “less feminine.” It ended up being a popular item with men, and at the time inexpensive wedding bands for men was a mostly untapped market on Esty. Thanks to my unexpectedly popular “unisex” ring design, and several that followed, my new business grew to the point that I could afford to keep doing it full time. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Industrial and Gender Neutral
Over the years I’ve experimented with various trends, sometimes getting caught up in “what sells,” but I always felt pulled back to my signature style - bold, industrial, nostalgic. And even though I never felt quite right about categorizing my designs as specifically men’s or women’s, I thought it was necessary for “search engine optimization,” (things like product titles and categories are important to Google). But as I begin my tenth year of business I’ve done some soul searching and decided that I need to make sure my business really aligns with my own values, even if it means I lose some customers. From here on out I’ll no longer be telling you who my designs are for. Some pieces may feel more feminine or masculine, but if YOU like them, they’re meant for you, regardless of gender. Additionally, I will no longer be shy about including political and social justice messages in my work and on social media. As a family, we are committed to social justice (it’s close to our hearts: my wife is a professor of social work, we are queer, and we are raising a child with special needs), and going forward I will make that obvious in my brand as well. Each month I’ll be donating 10% of my profits to a pre-selected social justice cause.
Why “Buffalo Lucy”?
I was born and raised on the Canadian prairies and then moved to the great plains of Kansas in my early 20s. It was there, where the buffalo famously roam, that I began metalsmithing and later opened Buffalo Lucy. My aesthetic was heavily influenced by the industrial beauty of Kansas City and my love of Americana. We lived in Lawrence, Kansas, a city with a rich history as a battleground over slavery, and our home was an 1890s barn-like structure, quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks. In contrast to the beautifully ornate Victorian homes just across the street, ours was a plain but solid ode to utilitarianism, likely originally owned by servants who worked for the families across the way. This dichotomy, beautifully ornate vs. solid and grounding, has been a recurring theme in my pieces. The influences of class struggle, Americana, and industry all come out in my work. The bison, a creature I felt a strong connection to when I first came across one on a camping trip as a child, seemed like the perfect representation of it all: commanding presence, nostalgic soul, bleeding heart. ♥