Designer Spotlight: Phonechay Baker
A BRIEF STORY OF WHAT YOU DO AND WHY YOU DO IT
In 2011, I opened Phonechay's Creations on Etsy, selling knitted and crocheted goods to raise money for my upcoming wedding. The response was more than I could hope for, exceeding my goal. This experience sparked an entrepreneurial side of me that I did not know existed. The Flowered Fox was born later when I discovered my new passion, jewelry design and metalsmithing. I decided that I could be happy creating beautiful art and help support a new family with my husband at the same time.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO JEWELRY DESIGN?
I have always loved rings and ring designs. Because I have such tiny fingers it is hard to find rings that fit at department stores. Also, I like jewelry that is rustic yet feminine – a style that is not always easy to find. I decided I would cut to the heart of the matter and learn to make my own jewelry. I first learned about soldering and fusing silver rings by watching videos online. The experience of making my first ring was magical and I knew that jewelry making is what I am meant to do. The next step was renting space at a local metalsmithing school and practice. It took making surprisingly few rings before I knew I could be happy creating jewelry for a living, and The Flowered Fox was born.
What Makes Your Collection Unique?
The Flowered Fox collection combines qualities that may, on the surface, seem to be in opposition. My designs are delicate, yet strong enough to hold up to everyday wear. While they may be simple and rustic, my pieces are still elegantly feminine. My ring collection also differs from what is widely available because it tends to focus on the midi and above-the-knuckle styles.
What Are your inspirations?
The biggest inspiration for my designs is nature. Ranging from breath-taking complexity to utter simplicity, nature never fails to inspire wonder. I try to work in as much of the beauty I see in nature as I can with delicate touches here and there. The greatest inspirations in my personal life are, of course, my family and friends, who have loved and supported me as I learned, planned, and reached for my goals.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE?
I worked in the food service industry for most of my life. I worked long hours at labor intensive jobs to make ends meet. Life seemed to have little more to offer. Then I met my husband who has encouraged me to focus on my creativity and my entrepreneurial spirit and build my own business. The Flowered Fox is a great opportunity for my personal and financial growth. Doing what I love for a living has brought an energy and flavor to my life like nothing I’ve ever known before. I make it my personal mission to try to inspire others to search out their calling and find this happiness.
WHAT'S SOMETHING UNUSUAL ABOUT YOU THAT MAKES YOU “YOU”?
I believe I have seen a unique cross section of the US that many will never glimpse. I immigrated from a Laotian refugee camp to this country of immigrants when I was 5, we landed in California. Needless to say, many there struggled to find a place in their adopted home. When I was 13 I moved to Vermont, and now I live in North Carolina, where I have found my place with my family and The Flowered Fox. I feel like my journey has been a uniquely American one, with the people I have met in these three very distinct parts of the US touching my life and helping me become the confident, driven, and happy person I am today.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN RUNNING YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS? OR WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS?
I love what I do. It is an absolute joy to create my jewelry. I love marketing my business. I enjoy everything it takes to run my business so much that I lose track of time. I find myself saying “30 more minutes, and I’ll stop!” only to realize an hour later that I am still working. It can be difficult to find balance between work and family, or work and relaxation.
My name is Phonechay Baker, or “Pawn” to my friends. Originally from Laos, I now reside in Durham, NC with my husband. When not working at my two shops, Phonechay’s Creations and The Flowered Fox, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and dancing.