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Freshie & Zero

American Made Since 2006
2014 Style Finalist

Freshie Lawrence

Nashville, Tennessee
Freshie & Zero makes simple & modern jewelry with love & a hammer in Nashville, TN. "Freshie" a.k.a. Beth creates while her dog Zero naps nearby.
Finalist Tennessee
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Tell us about your business.

My inspiration has always been the desire to make jewelry that was modern, pretty and affordable. I grew up going to craft fairs, and naturally the jewelry tents were my favorite destination. As I visited each jewelry booth, I was always disappointed in either the ornateness or the high price tag of the jewelry offerings. I loved jewelry and handmade products, but I often would leave these craft fairs empty handed. Why wasn’t anyone making simple, wearable, affordable jewelry that didn’t feel like attaching a sculpture to your neck? It became my mission to craft jewelry that fit this bill, so in 2006 I officially launched Freshie & Zero after dabbling in jewelry making for most of my life. I initially built my brand by attending dozens of craft shows, including many fabulous Renegade Craft Fairs! Now we have shifted our focus to mostly wholesale so I don't have to travel as often (I also now have two little kids at home!). My passion has grown into my career - I feel so lucky!

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

My studio is currently in the basement of Nashville's oldest skyscraper! However, we are about to move into another old building downtown as we have outgrown our current space. I can't wait to move into the new space - it is a warehouse being renovated for studios and other creative spaces. I'm eagerly anticipating the creative environment we will be a part of! I love the fact that I get to create my own company culture - I currently have a staff of two part time employees who help me create and ship jewelry. Each day, I’m in charge of setting the tone for the workday, whether it means jamming to the Beastie Boy or cheesing out to the Bee Gees. It’s important to me to establish a fun work environment, one that makes people happy to come to work. I take us out for for milkshake and latte breaks. I have even set an annual tradition of an employee spa party for Christmas! I have been fortunate in my lifetime to have a few awesome bosses, and I truly want to be one of them, too.

What inspires you?

I have always loved making art of any kind - whether it is a paper doll, painting, or jewelry. This desire to create and be surrounded by art has been a never-ending source of inspiration. I have a degree in Studio Art with an emphasis on photography and drawing. I design my jewelry mainly from this formal training but I do not have any formal jewelry education. When I studied art history, my favorite modern masters were Picasso and Chuck Close - I love their use of line & geometry in their work and how they can create something beautiful out of something so simple. This is the basic principle I always operate on - create something beautiful out of something simple. I still go to craft shows and art galleries whenever I can. It is so amazing to see other artist's creations whether it is a photograph, a vase, or a screen printed shirt. I love how we all have our own voice with our chosen medium.

What makes your business stand out?

I think we have the right amount of artistry, quality, and affordability that draws people in to our jewelry. Having a fine art background helped me focus on the craftsmanship of each piece and I think people really notice that even though my work is simple, it's done with a high degree of design and quality. Also, our tagline is "Made with Love & a Hammer in Nashville, TN" - I love how perfectly this describes Freshie & Zero. It infers our sense of humor, sense of purpose, and hometown pride. It also doesn't hurt that half our namesake comes from my dog Zero - people love dogs!

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Oh my goodness - where to begin?! I would say first and foremost, be original and authentic to what you love to create. It's okay to be inspired by others but try and find your own voice and do something that is uniquely yours. The worst thing to hear when someone sees your work is "Oh that looks so much like so-and-so." Be ready to work around the clock - there is no rest for the self-employed! Be prepared to put yourself out there and weather the storms of rejection because there will be many more "no's" than "yes's". Be ready to toot your own horn proudly but humbly - you must be your greatest advocate. Be ready to sell a lot - or nothing at all. Success comes in waves. Be open to anything - in the beginning you may want to say yes to any opportunity that comes along. After you get some experience under your belt, you can start picking and choosing the opportunities and shows that you know will work best for your product.

What does American Made mean to you?

Since becoming a full-time maker, I have become part of a large network and community of other makers. This is honestly one of the best parts of doing what I do. Being part of such a passionate, creative community has made me very mindful of my own purchasing. As a job creator myself, I know that purchasing products made in America means that I am most likely helping to provide jobs to others. And not just any job - a job of creating something amazing by someone who followed their passion. That is something worth supporting.
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