Nora Swanson Arts

American Made Since 2007

Nora Swanson

Berea, Kentucky
Exquisite Neo-Rustic jewelry melds today’s fashions with old world elegance. Hand fashioned art to wear with remarkable genuine oxidized patinas

Tell us about your business.

It started when Dale and I met at an Interior Design Conference. We hit it off, and began working together. One day, I asked Dale what patinas could do, as he made conservative interior pieces. Soon he surprised me with a lovely pair of earring in a lapis blue patina and an invitation to dinner. I fell in love with him AND patina artistry! Dale's background in jewelry making which he learned from some Navajo and Zuni metal smiths in Albuquerque, N.M. combines perfectly with my passion for cross pollinating art mediums. Starting with raw copper and brass, we hammer, shape and drill each piece. It gets treated with our proprietary chemical formulas to target what patina color we want. We then grind off the back, wash it, clear coat it and dress it up to sell. We are always exploring new patinas, new metal soldering techniques and new designs. Starting out with a few baby steps in the garage; to a 2,000 sq ft. studio, to being in Niche Magazine as one of the ten new trendsetters in 2013.

What makes your business stand out?

We have innovated a line of jewelry with genuine metal patinas as the focus of the concept. We have had to educate artists, jurors, and the public about what this form of art is. Those who know about patinas will tell you our work is off the charts. I love to hear "Wow, what is this? I've never seen anything like it!" and "Ooh this is different." My greatest challenge has been to create a language bridge between our work, and those who meet it. We have sought the offer the complete luxury experience, each piece comes with a pedigree tag stating it's authenticity and patina color, along with a card briefly describing the process. Dale and I are the sole makers of this work. Our methods are highly proprietary so there is a limited scope of handling for assistants to do. We have developed production to be super efficient,handling bulk orders in a timely way. I design all of our collateral, line sheets and website, I just redid the cards and loved the color so much I got a pedi to match!

What's the best business advice you've received?

"Get the bank manager to introduce you to the loan officer, things go much better." ~small business 101 professor. "If it's horizontal it's a pile, if it's vertical it's a file." ~Mom 1998 "There's two things that will kill you if you don't handle them right, hired help and cash flow." ~Mom 2012 Other than that, I haven't had much in the way of mentoring, I took college classes that made sense to me, adjusted much of it to the "real world" over a few decades of working as an artist, and actually do use most of what I learned in college. My degree is in Arts and Humanities Management. For this jewelry adventure, I have mostly just been following my instincts.I have also gleened off the web, and watched what other's have done with their presentation of their work, either to innovate on it, or avoid it.

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