LIVE LIFE IN STYLE INTERVIEWS: Kathy Bracewell, Agate Ranch + Marfa Jewelry Designer

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with interior designer, turned jewelry designer, Kathy Bracewell. Kathy is the designer behind the fun, western inspired brand, Agate Ranch + Marfa. Agate Ranch + Marfa is a like of jewelry pieces specifically made out of Marfa Agate rock that she has found on her ranch where she lives in Marfa, Texas. Kathy was in town to host a trunk show at a local Houston Boutique, called Tootsies.  It's the perfect time of year for Kathy to come to town because it's rodeo season here in Houston and adding any one of her amazing pieces to your ensemble will make you rodeo ready! 

Watch the video interview below or HERE on my YouTube channel! Don't forget to subscribe while you're there! 



THE INTERVIEW TRANSCRIBED:
 

Kathy: I'm so flattered that you've asked me for this interview.
Shalanda: I am so excited to be here right now and to be able to interview you. Your pieces are perfect for the rodeo. I'm loving the stones!Tell us a little bit about how you found these stones and how you realized you wanted to use them to make jewelry.
Actually, we have our own ranch property outside a town called Marfa, TX which is in west Texas. We bought the ranch property and I decided to walk around and look for Indian artifacts. I was looking and I started finding these distinctive looking rocks. I gathered some up, went to the little town of 2,000 people and there's a  rock shop. I went in and introduced myself and took the rocks in and he said that I had Marfa Agate; so it’s an agate precious stone. It is found in the area but not everywhere in the area. So my husband and I invited him to come down to the ranch.  We drove around and he trained my eye to see that the dirt or the soil actually becomes darker because agate is part of the lava formation. So your looking for darker soil that's where your agate beds would be, and I just started collecting them.
So are the stones on top or do you have to dig far down for them?
That’s a great question. They're actually on top. You'll just see these beautiful sparkling beds; it’s so pretty. I gather them up and take them to him. He actually is a lapidary rock man. He cuts the stones.  He has lapidary saws and lapidary polishing equipment. He cuts the stones for me and as he slices we get to know the stone a little bit better. On the outside I can tell what’s going to be inside. but everytime he detonates another slice, its another beautiful surprise. 
 
 
It looks like you have multiple shapes here, almost seems as if no two are the same, but they may come from the same rock. Does it just depend on the layer?
Exactly, depending on the size of the stones. Usually, I can get two to three slabs or slices out of one rock. That's a typical size, three or four inches; but the bigger stones I get multiple slabs.

You found the stones and you found somebody to cut them. How did you decide to turn it into a jewelry business?
Well, I decided when I was finding these stones and kind of getting into the the whole thing. My daughter in law and step-daughters started sending me images of different designers, mainly, Yves Saint Laurent and some other french designers. On their runway they were doing these great big chunky Agate necklaces. I just thought about it and I have a design background so I just decided to make jewelry and go with it.
 

When did you officially start your business?
I've been in the business now for five years. 

Congratulations!
Thank you, it’s been a really fun evolution. And I am thrilled that Tootsies is taking me on, and I am in the Tootsies in Dallas and Houston as well. It's very exciting for me.

We love to shop here! Tootsies is a favorite spot for a lot of fashion bloggers. We love the unique pieces that they bring in and all the trunk shows are fun. Most of the time we get to meet the designers during the trunk shows, because otherwise we don't get that opportunity to meet the designers! 
In this particular show we are concentrating around the Houston Rodeo, and because of that you'll see that I really introduced turquoise into the collection for the rodeo. I'm actually working with the Native American tribe out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Abetas. I send them some of my slabs and they put the pieces together for me. That’s been kind of exciting for me to get to work with the Indians.
 
Well it seems like you've always had an interest in Native American things. You said that when you first moved here you were automatically looking for artifacts. Where was that from? Have you always been into artifacts?
I really have! I've collected Native American for a really, really long time; rugs, pottery everything.

That’s great that you get to work with them now. I bet you love it. You also mentioned you have a design background. Tell us a little more about that.
Well, my training from Texas Tech is in Interior Design, so I've always been in a design business.

How do you inspire the final pieces? I know you said you add turquoise which is more for the rodeo, you were also talking about the leather. How do you come up with the design for the final pieces?
Really the stones seem to talk to me and tell me what to do. They really do. You can tell if one wants to be casual or they want to be dressy. This is a neat example here, so I introduced these multiple slabs in because originally everything was long and was a pendant. Then I realized how everybody likes layering. I decided to do these little multi- slabs which come in silver and gold. Also, new to the line are these hand beaded necklaces or chains.You see the stones and you see how it has the pinks and the whites and off whites, that’s how I spun around with that.
 

Your clients have a choice between the beads, the leather or the chains?
Yes. The leathers are adjustable you can slide with the clasp to make them short like a choker or long like a longer pendant. Actually, these are an example of a Milagro and those are used in the Hispanic Catholic communities. They are little charms that they would pray over. The sacred heart of Jesus is one and the other is a man or woman kneeling to give thanks for a miracle received or a blessing needed. It’s a really top seller for me with the Milagros.

Speaking of selling what is the price range for all of your products?
The leather pieces with the little nuggets start at $75and advance with Milagros up to $185. Then I start the lowest price chain is $225 and then going up into the beads and turquoise they're in the $600s.  The rings Rings are $325 to $350 and they are on adjustable bands which is really nice so you can wear it on any finger.
 

Who is the person you see wearing your jewelry? What’s your client like?
You know that's a really good question, because it seem like every age group really is into this line. I recently sold in the Tootsies in Dallas one of the necklaces, like you have on, to a woman that was shopping for her mother of the groom and wanted to wear it to the rehearsal dinner. 
 
It looks like your pieces are able to be layered and stacked. It looks like you have another element here that increases the fashionable aspect of your pieces.
We do. We just introduced into the line a feather attachment with a little lobster clasp and it simply attaches onto the back of any piece. It really changes the look of the piece. It's fun. I think you and I were laughing earlier about doing anything with it! You can put them in your hair, boots or purse like you said

Was there anything else you would like for my readers to know about you and your brand?
Let’s see. I can’t really think at the top of my head but please come shop me at Tootsies in Houston and Dallas. I am also in the boutique Muse and and Julie Rhodes.

Can we also buy online from you?
Yes, I have a website which is agateranchmarfa.com










DISCOVER AGATE RANGH + MARFA

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