Rachel Rieke creates jewelry that reflects how women want to feel: one-of-a-kind. As the designer and owner of Wild Mint Jewelry in Lawrence, Kan., Rieke designs bold, colorful jewelry with a Native American influence. She doesn’t make jewelry full-time, but she’s become a fixture at Lawrence craft shows. She describes herself as “Internet shy,” yet her Etsy profile has attracted international customers. I visited Rieke at her home and workspace to talk about her brand.
HS: Until recently, the brand was RED Designs Jewelry. What was the inspiration behind the new name?
RR: I think changing the name was the right direction since I wanted something more “me.” When I was brainstorming, I wanted something clean and simple. I don’t think there’s anything negative about the word “mint.” It’s just easy, fresh and clean. The designs of my beaded work is where the “wild” part came from.
HS: How would you describe your jewelry?
RR: Colorful, unique, high quality. I have a hard time describing it as “Native American” since the trend of calling things “tribal” is so big now, but it definitely has a Native American draw. No matter what, while I take inspiration from things, it’s really important to me that I stay true to creating original designs.
HS: Quality is obviously important to you. Tell me about the materials you use.
RR: All ear wires are handmade and they are all either sterling silver or gold filled. The beaded work is made from delicacy beads that are all standard size and create clean design patterns. Other beads come in different sizes and can look messy. I glue and sew faux leather on the backs so the design isn’t distorted. The pieces are really made to last. I’ve had people tell me they’ve run pieces through a washing machine and they’re still intact.
HS: Are there other materials you want to work with?
RR: I’d love to start making stackable rings using real gold. I’m definitely a gold person over silver. I also want to start using real leather for the earring backs, though I want to use recycled real leather.
HS: What is your design process like and what do you like to do while you’re working?
RR: I don’t usually draw out my designs. I’ve been doing it so long that I usually have an idea in my head and just have a trial and error process. The beaded earrings take between two and six hours per pair and I usually have to force myself to stop because, at shows, I like to have around 50 pairs. While I work, I’ll usually have music playing but I’m a repeat watcher of television shows and I love “Arrested Development.” I can just put on an episode and not really watch but still know what’s going on.
HS: What’s next for Wild Mint?
RR: I want to be more active online and have professional photos taken of my earrings on models and really begin to develop a lifestyle brand. Something else I really want is to be more active with charities with a percentage of each purchase going to the Humane Society.
Find Rieke’s jewelry at upcoming craft shows:
- Bizarre Bazaar
When: Nov. 29 and 30
Where: Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.
- LOLA Giant
When: Dec. 7 and 8
Where: Van Go, 715 New Jersey St.
– Hannah Swank
Photography by Hannah Swank
Edited by Kaitlyn Klein
This article was provided by University of Kansas’s Magazine Journalism class.