We are long time fans of Polaris jewelry and founder Kaliska Sweetwater she also happens to have been our first studio visit ever on the blog, three years ago! It has been so fun to see her brand grow into a gold power house! We are most impressed with her resourcefulness and attention to quality and detail. Using only gold fill and sterling silver in the most delicate way with her complexly simple geometric designs.
Polaris’ new 50/50 collection launched a few months back as limited run designs and 50% of the cost of the piece goes to organizations that are making a difference like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Such a great idea with such sincere intentions, we love that Kaliska has found a way to use Polaris to make a impact!
From her home studio to her upgraded downtown space she is really matured Polaris increasing her stockist like crazy and maintaining great relationships with some of our favorite Portland shops. Check out her adorable studio with some seriously great downtown light!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
I’ve lived in Portland my whole life - I was born here, raised here, and then I just kinda stuck around! I’m really close with my family, so that’s a big part of why I’ve stayed. Portland has changed really quickly, it’s been really crazy to see! There are a lot of things I miss, but my business wouldn’t have thrived in the version of Portland I grew up in.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
There are so many amazing business women here, and so many interesting artists- every time I get bored something new pops up! It’s a really exciting time to be here, especially as a young entrepreneur. I love collaborating with other artists, and Portland has a seemingly endless supply of them!
3. How did your brand start?
Polaris Jewelry happened purely by accident- I never intended for it to be a business. I started making myself geometric earrings, just soldering at my kitchen table, and people started asking me about them! My mom pushed me to sell my designs in her shop, and I was super resistant until I started wanting to buy nicer equipment and materials. From there it’s grown really naturally- from one account, to 2, to 6, to now more than 20 amazing shops around the country that carry my line! I think it’s really cool that people have been into what I’m doing, and it’s been exciting to see where this will take me! I never could have imagined that I would be able to build a business that would be able to pay for me to travel- it still blows my mind. I never could have dreamed up this life, and I think that’s the best way to start a business- by just listening to people when they say “Hey, that’s cool- where did you get it?”
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
Right now I’m trying to scale my business, which is super challenging. There’s really no guidebook, so it’s hard to figure out which direction to go in. There are definitely days that I miss clocking in and out- showing up to work and having a clear picture of what needed to get done. It’s hard to self motivate without that external structure, but I love that my job is different every day, and for me that completely makes up for it! There’s nothing like when an idea actually works- when something from my brain comes to life and clicks into place- I love that feeling, and I think it’s the thing that keeps me moving forward.
5. What or who inspires your design?
All of my designs are inspired by the people who wear them. I know that’s probably cheesy, but I think about my customers at every step along the way- I wear the designs, see how I feel in them, notice if I get complements on them. That has always been a big part of the process for me. I don’t want my jewelry to be something someone wears once a year- I want to design something so eye catching yet versatile that once it’s put on, you never want to take it off. Jewelry isn’t like other forms of art- it’s so intimate. My work physically touches people, and think that is one of the coolest things about what I do.
6. What is your favorite part of your studio?
Honestly I love every part of it! Renting my studio was the first real step I took when I decided to take my business seriously, and that moment was a big turning point. Working alone is a super weird thing, and being able to leave my house everyday is such a blessing. I love my giant work table, my hammering station, my huge window! Being able to hear people walking and talking outside is so nice. Plus the natural light definitely doesn’t hurt.
7. Tell us two truths and a lie!
Chips are my fav food
I have a pet fish
I coded my first 3 websites
8. 5 things you can’t live without.