During college, Kristin Morris knew she had a knack for jewelry design. Tucked away in an art studio at Appalachian State, the apparel and textiles major would solder, cut, and saw pieces of sterling silver to create delicate rings and pendants. "I didn't see jewelry as a career then," she says. "I always thought I would take a more traditional route."
But the design bug had bitten Morris, so she pursued a career in fashion and landed a job with Tommy Hilfiger. Her career was flourishing until a move from Manhattan to Charlotte to be with her new husband brought her professional aspirations to an abrupt halt. "I didn't want to open my own boutique or go work for Belk, so I had to put fashion behind me," she says.
Still, it wasn't long before inspiration struck again. In 2002, Morris wandered into an uptown bead shop. As she browsed glass baubles and vintage charms, she realized she could turn her collegiate talent into a career. Within a year, Morris launched Vanilla, a line of funky costume jewelry made with beads, brass, and gold-filled chain. In 2008, she added a line of fine jewelry to her glittering empire. The 18-karat gold pieces (prices range from $500 to $2,000) manage to be timeless and trendy, like jewelry collections from Ippolita or Jennifer Meyer. "These are heirloom pieces. They're made to last a long time," says Morris.
Find her designs locally at Sloan (1419 East Blvd.), Luca Lu (2823 Selwyn Ave.), or online at kristinmorris.com.