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BIZ CRUSH: Britta Kauppila of Britta Lynn Design

BIZ crush

Britta and I have a lot in common. We love creating things with our hands, we seriously enjoy peeking into makers' creative spaces, and we both think we've been living in Duluth for shorter amounts of time than we actually have (#timeflies).

We went several years in the city without ever crossing paths, and once we did- we couldn't stop running into each other!

She's got some serious skills and works with some amazing materials to create one of a kind pieces that have been known to turn heads.

I asked her a few questions about her journey and her process- read on to see what she had to say.

Photo by Louisa Marion Photography

What kind of kid were you growing up?

I was a little farm girl who loved to wear frilly dresses but played football with the boys on the playground. I was a confident kid and truly thought I could do whatever I wanted, that life held no barriers. (Naive maybe, but man it made me ballsy). When I was growing up there was no such thing as girls’ hockey (which is a crazy thing to think about now) but I never thought I couldn't play hockey just because I was girl. I wanted to, so I did. I liked the idea of being different and paving my own way and going against the grain. As the baby of the family I also thrived on being the center of attention (I was loud and no filter of embarrassment, yep I was that kid).

How did that affect your path towards jewelry making?

I think it ultimately comes down to support. I was never told “you can’t do that” so I honestly believe I can do whatever I want to do if I work hard enough and have passion for it. All the activities and interests of mine as a kid came from me, I didn’t do them for anyone else but myself. We had a lot of independence as kids (aka very little supervision) and I think the greatest effect that had was for me to do things for me, not out of praise or someone else wanting me to, genuinely being able to follow my interest and passion and I alone was accountable for that.

If your story could fit into a 30 second commercial, how would it go down?

As I entered college I knew I wanted to pursue art but I never even thought of jewelry as an art form until I saw it there in the art department. As a lover of geology and history I landed on jewelry as the perfect medium to explore. I worked for many years in the jewelry industry from a small independently owned fine jewelry store, to corporate fine jewelry, to small high-end custom jewelry designer, all experiences were so helpful as I set out on my own. I’ve been self-employed for 6 years and feel so fortunate to meet such supportive people at such exciting and loving times in their life. I love the symbolism and sentimental aspect of jewelry which keeps this medium a constant source of inspiration for me.

Who’s positively influenced your path the most?

Besides the constant support and cheerleading of my partner, Adam, I have to say I have been lucky enough to have a great community of supporters and mentors. But ultimately I can 100% say I wouldn’t be a self employed artist without my first studio-mates Betty Jager, Emily Johnson, and Susan Frerichs.

We all worked for a custom design jewelry designer down in Minneapolis, Studio Vincent. The first time I walked into the gallery my eyes grew 10 times, it was everything I thought jewelry could/should be and I found it! I basically stalked the gallery until I got a job ;) The gallery also employed other aspiring jewelry artists like myself and through the support of each other we got our first studio. We worked, we supported, we critiqued, we helped, we shared tools and we empowered each other. Still to this day they are my metal mavens for life and so lucky they are still a big part of my life. (And I would like to say each of us is a self employed jewelry artist!)

And I haven’t even mentioned the amazing mentors that helped me too, Stephen Vincent (taught me so many of my skills), George Sawyer (a great supportive voice and also gave me my first jewelry bench) and Merry Beck (gallery owner who first supported my work by selling it in her gallery, along with giving advice about collections and pricing). There are so many wonderful people out there willing to help, support, and empower people to follow their dreams. Lucky to have so many of them in life.

Photo by Louisa Marion Photography

Favorite part about working for yourself?

Being able to create everyday, to follow my own inspirations and aspirations, and all the amazing people I have the pleasure of working with.

Most challenging thing about working for yourself?

Being alone. I’m an extrovert so being alone in the studio 40+ hours a week is hard. I definitely gain energy by being around people, especially other productive, creative energy. Also, turning work off. When you’re self employed you’re constantly working. Or learning how to delegate and finding the right help that will allow you to grow sustainably.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

Getting out in nature. I am constantly collecting bits and pieces along the trails that are a huge part of my inspiration. Also, reflection. Listening to my emotions and what I want to say/create from them.

If you could be a fly on the wall to anyone’s creative space {dead or alive} who would it be?

Georgia O’Keefe because she was the first artist I fell in love with. Her work still captures me to this day and is a person I have always been inspired by (as an artist and as a badass woman). Second, Andy Goldsworthy. I love love love his installations. Using nature to create fleeting relationships with it, so simple and so utterly amazing. I’d love to be in the Scottish farm fields with him as he creates. And then German metalsmith Mirjam Hiller. Her work and process is deceivingly complicated yet simple and she creates the most thoughtful pieces of art from one piece of metal and gives this cold sheet of metal such life, depth and warmth, all through a saw blade.

Talk about a failure you’ve learned from.

It’s okay to say no. Being overworked, even if you love your job is very stressful and affects your love with the medium (and your personal life).

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments in business?

This year I celebrated 6 years of full-time self employment. That felt really special. 2016 was also the biggest year for me and my business. I’ve grown organically each year but last year was an explosion. I worked really hard (and had a lot of stress) all year so when my final numbers came back at the end of the year it was such a validating feeling. The work was worth it.

What do you wish you knew when you first started that you know now?

Hire a bookkeeper sooner! It’s been so good to let go of that part of my business where it took away from creative time and something I didn’t enjoy doing. Learning what I do best and get help with the things I don’t enjoy and am not the best at. Targeting my talents in the right direction to keep my work brighter and my energy fresh.

What’s next / What are you most excited about?

Jewelry is my main love, but most of all I just like need to make things. I have ideas for jewelry in other materials (non precious) that I’d love to pursue, not necessarily to sell, but to create for the sake of creating them. I definitely feel I communicate best through what I make and not words.

Photo by Louisa Marion Photography

Time of the day you are most productive:

Afternoon, once all the distractions are taken care of in the morning

The app you couldn’t live without:

Wunderlist, keeps track of all mayhem

Social media outlet you love most:


Favorite account to follow on this outlet:

@ashleymaryart - Ashley is a friend of mine but I just love her work and full use of color and her work ethic is so inspiring. She’s always making and setting standards high for herself. Jewelry.

I love to follow @johnnyninos, he shares in-process to final pieces of jewelry along with little snippets of his life as a father on the west coast. All gorgeous photos and he is such a kind person as well.

Favorite Pandora station at the moment:

I use Spotify but Beck, Haley Bonar, or Sylvan Esso is usually a go-to radio for studio work. Or Missy Elliot or M.I.A. if I need to get a little motivation :)

Go to accessory:

My 22k gold stud earrings. Wear them everyday.

Favorite Netflix binge:

Parks and Rec

The coolest metalsmith tool you own:

A torch is pretty badass, but I think all my tools are pretty badass ;)

Favorite material to work with:

18k yellow gold always and forever. So so good. I love the way it feels, the way it glows, the way it heats and solders, the way it reacts and moves to your hammer, ah, it’s just so good. There’s a reason gold has been coveted for thousands of years.

The best “hidden gem” in the community:

The new JuicePharm! Quick and super healthy food, love that it's right next to my studio. Outdoor, I've always loved Ely's Peak. I grew over the hill on those trails so it always holds a special place for me.

Where can we find Britta Lynn Design (in person & online):

I mostly sell through me at my studio in NE Minneapolis or here in Duluth, but I also sell at galleries throughout MN and WI. I have stayed away from online retail until recently, actually hoping to have a small shop open by June.

See more from Britta: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Photo by Louisa Marion Photography

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