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Conversations with Jennifer Ramos

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Ramos.

Hi Jennifer, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
After working in Finance for over 13 years, I began to take after work classes in different design areas to see what I really wanted to do. I had always been passionate about fashion and design, but I didn’t know exactly what space I was most interested in. I took classes in Parsons and FIT in interior design, fashion design, and accessories design. At the beginning of 2014, I met my husband, and he encouraged me to dive into the unknown and pursue my passion. I was planning on quitting my job and going back to school for accessories design. I had purchased some leather and was going to begin with a handbag collection. At the end of spring, I became pregnant, and of course was unable to leave my work. My son became the engine I needed to continue with my plans in spite of the changes we went through. I honestly thought I had to walk the walk if I ever wanted to teach him about pursuing his own dreams.

I began making small jewelry pieces using the leather I had bought, as making a handbag at home with a newborn was not possible. After seeing that my work was appreciated by close friends and family, I began thinking about the name for my company, the idea of a brand creation, etc. I wanted it to have some connection to my home country Colombia, but at the time the only artisanal work we were really known for was the Wayuu tribe.

I explored names in the Quechua language (the Wayuu language), and then I found this picture that was called Karonka. I googled it and it was a specific location in the northern region of the guajira desert, where the Wayuu indigenous people live.

Since this project for me was like growing a flower in the desert, what better suited name than “Flor de Karonka.” It took me some time to really get over the impostor syndrome and believe in my work. We moved to Florida in 2016, and a lot of things changed for me. I was at home with my two years old son, unemployed, and it took me a while to get adjusted to our new life. I went back to work part-time in private wealth management in Miami, and then I hit that wall again, of being in an industry and doing something I was not passionate about. I continued to work part-time in my jewelry, attending local markets and selling to close friends and family. A few years later, I was surprised with a diagnosis of breast cancer (Nov 2019) which of course rocked my world in its core. I have always thought that disease is not simply something that happens to us but that we manifest in our lives because we force ourselves into something we don’t like or believe in. This of course made me reassess everything, and after being blessed with a successful surgery and a cancer that was not aggressive, I began to make changes in my life.

As 2020 came, and with it Covid, I had more time to dedicate to my work and started doing it full time. The rest is history as I continue to evolve on the products I make, always hand in hand with local artisans in Colombia. I currently make hand-painted leather pieces, which is sourced from scraps. I offer artisanal handbags and some tabletop decoration. I believe you simply cannot escape what you are destined to do. Growing up, I was always into art, ballet, and Piano, but because I was raised by a single mother, unconsciously I didn’t want to struggle with making a living, so I took the safe 9-5 career and job.

Eventually, I was brave enough to make that jump, and with the support of my family, I am very happy to see my work and brand evolve with me.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I feel there have been many struggles. From a business perspective, you have to wear many hats at the beginning because you lack the funding. With the ever expanding social media platforms, it has been easier to tell your story directly to the consumer, but you have to know your limitations.

For one, I am no marketing expert, and in the vastness of the internet, getting your name out there is very complex. Learning about SEO, google ads, etc. has been interesting, but I simply have understood that sometimes you need to ask for help and invest with those who know a LOT more on the subject than you do.

Secondly, you have to BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE in yourself. Nobody else is going to make it happen for you. I am a huge procrastinator, so being organized has been a huge task to undertake.

As an artist, it is SO EASY to let time get the best of you and create away, but you have to remember that you are running a business. Creating and making is the fun part, then you have to take pictures, edit, and add inventory. Updating your website, taking GOOD pictures, and knowing your costs is indispensable, Not so fun, but still happy to learn from those processes.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I started with collections but quickly realized my work was more in the unique, custom space. Currently, I am approached by women who want custom pieces for special occasions. Whether it be weddings, parties, birthdays, or pets, I am good at creating pieces that have a sentimental value. For example, my animal collection began with a client who had a collection of elephant statues she had inherited from her grandmother. She asked me if I could make elephant earrings for her, and so my first animal was created.

I think what sets me apart is that I have taken something as “common” as jewelry making and made it my own. Each piece is hand cut, beaded and painted, which makes them small pieces of wearable art. (At an affordable price). Women love custom, but It usually comes with a high tag price. I believe I have made it somewhat more affordable.

My clients love the fact that my pieces are big but INCREDIBLY Lightweight.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
So many lessons to choose from, but the most important one for me has been to enjoy every moment of your life. You never know what sort of curveball will be thrown at you, and no amount of money will ever replace a life or a moment with your loved ones.

Pricing:

  • Custom pieces begin at $75

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Achieve Studio USA

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