Behind the glitz and glamour of precious gemstones, hammered brass and delicate gold chains exists the creative mind of Lindsay Farrer.
In the highly competitive jewelry industry saturated with designers hocking handmade goods on websites and at street fairs, the Decatur High School graduate’s creations — inspired by the mystery of California’s redwoods, the red rock arches of Utah’s Moab desert and the pagodas of Cambodia — are causing a stir.
Last month, The Today Show’s style website featured Farrer in “Take a Walk on the Wild Side: 5 Fashion and Beauty Rules to Break this Summer.”
“Over the last few months, everything has seemed to click,” said Farrer, founder and lead designer of Simon & Ruby. “The company has grown tremendously, and I am struggling to keep up with orders. It’s amazing.”
The Nashville-based up-and-coming jewelry designer attributed the surge in popularity to the genuineness of the collections.
“I feel like these pieces reflect me more and more. I feel more connected to them, and I am putting my whole heart into them. I have found my own voice as a designer,” Farrer said.
The breakthrough came after seven years of pitching items to stores at market and four years since she quit her steady day job as a visual manager at Pottery Barn. Farrer never imagined or planned on hand-crafting necklaces, bracelets and earrings. She never thought jewelry would become her passion.
Growing up watching her uncle and grandfather create stained glass and her grandmother and great-grandmother string beads as seamstresses, Farrer developed a love for art — a love fueled by lessons with Jackie Goode Briscoe and photography classes at Decatur High.
At Berry College, she studied fine arts and planned on pursuing a career as an artist. That is until a professor altered the course of her life.
“It was my senior year and I was in a critique class. My professor said ‘You are not an artist, but you are a designer.’ That broke my heart, but that moment made me take the time to figure out what I really wanted to do and who I wanted to be. The professor was right,” Farrer said.
Instead of creating art solely from paints, Farrer realized her works featured found and recycled items put together in unique ways. At Pottery Barn, she translated her ability into helping customers design rooms and select accessories.
In 2008, needing a creative outlet, Farrer picked up jewelry making as a hobby and started an Etsy shop.
“I was not even into jewelry that much growing up. I am so surprised that designing jewelry is what I love to do. I love that each piece is unique and that I can combine my passions of travel, art and design into these creations. It’s been a lot of work, but also a whole lot of fun,” Farrer said.
Inspired by her travels, Farrer selects colors, textures and gemstones reflective of a region. Her organic designs featured agate, jasper, wood, labradorite and quartz.
Stores in 27 states carry Simon & Ruby products, including Bank Street Art & Antiques owned by Farrer’s former teacher, Jackie Goode Briscoe, who described her work as an art tutor as “opening the doors into another world for my students.”
“The people of Decatur, more than anything, have dramatically influenced me. Jackie Briscoe was my art teacher for years. She passed on to me her passion for art and taught me how to take what I see and translate it into art,” Farrer said.
Farrer’s fall collection, Lost Woods, inspired by a California state park, will be available at the end of August.
Past collections include New Orleans, Coastline, Desert Sunset, Italian, Deep South and Cambodia.
Along with The Today Show, Farrer’s pieces have appeared in Zooey Magazine worn by actresses Autumn Reeser, of “The O.C.,” and Gina Rodriguez, of “Jane the Virgin,” and on the Oxygen Network’s “Preachers of L.A.” personality Myesha Chaney.
Q-and-A with Farrer
What inspires your collections? I love travel. If I could travel all the time, I would. In my collections, I try to translate my experience of a place into the jewelry. I try to create cool, decorative pieces by mixing color and texture to show what you would see if you visited a place and wandered off the beaten path.
When did your travels start inspiring the collections? The first travel-inspired collection I did was Italian, but that was me just trying to figure out what a true collection was. My first truly cohesive collection was Cambodia. I spent three weeks there volunteering with an organization that taught victims of human trafficking how to create jewelry. All the emotions one could feel, I felt. I had to find a way to translate those emotions and that experience into jewelry. That was my jumping off point.
Do you travel and expect a collection to come from it? Not always. Besides travel and art, my camera is my other love. I take my camera with me wherever I go. I want to truly experience a place while I am there, so what I do is I photograph everything. I am a very visual person. When I’m ready to start a collection, I create a Pinterest-type board to help flush out my ideas.
Talk about the new collection. The fall collection was inspired by a trip to a state park in California. Now, that was a time when I was not expecting it to result in a collection, but the place spoke to me. The park was boarded by the coast on one side and the magnificent redwoods on the other. I really tried to bring the mystery of the forest to the collection. Each piece has a little bit of movement.
Any tips for selecting jewelry? What I love is pairing comfortable clothes with fun jewelry to make an outfit more interesting. I go by the philosophy, if you like it, you will find a way to make it work. I don’t need or like for my jewelry to match my clothes. Have fun with the jewelry. Try wearing a long necklace doubled over so it looks like several necklaces or as a bracelet.
What led you to start Simon & Ruby on Etsy and then create your own shop? Etsy is an amazing place to get started and jump off from. For me, it was important to keep my identity and create my own brand. If someone was wearing my piece and was asked where they got it, I would want them to say from an artist, not on Etsy.