Kira Rainey has always loved making jewelry, but her idea to start a business didn’t take shape until 2017. At the time, she was living in Missoula, where she attended school.
“I was a bartender at the time, and everyone kept asking where I got some of my pieces…it kind of occurred to me that there was interest in it,” she says.
She began selling at farmers markets, eventually opening an Etsy shop and selling pieces on Instagram. Her business name, Cascadia Jewelry, gained new meaning in 2019, when she and her husband — both natives of Kitsap County — moved from Missoula to Mount Vernon.
“We picked the Skagit Valley because it’s so close to Bellingham…but it kind of looks like Montana. I had no idea there was an awesome artist market and community here.”
Strong Materials, Classic Designs
Rainey aims to create high-quality jewelry at accessible price points. “I remember going to shows in college when I was younger…and I couldn’t afford anything when I was there,” she says. “It’s important to me that self-expression, jewelry, and fashion is available to more people.”
To achieve this goal, she starts with a raw sheet of base metal which she then hammers, texturizes, and shapes, finishing all ear hooks and chains with silver and gold. “I like the duality there of having a hardness and a softness developed from metal,” she says.
She also treats each piece to prevent the metal from tarnishing. The result is jewelry that’s affordable, durable, and light-weight.
When it comes to designs, Rainey gravitates toward feminine, classic shapes. She has a whole collection of lunar-inspired pieces, like her popular moon drop earrings ($30-$38). Like most pieces Rainey makes, the droplet earrings are simple but versatile, making them a great gift option. Customers can choose from brass, silver, or copper in sizes small, medium, or large.
“When you find these simple shapes—I’ve seen them on punk rock girls, I’ve seen them on really classic, sophisticated styles, and wild artsy styles,” she says.
Since moving to Mount Vernon, Rainey has been able to grow her business, working markets and events locally as well as in Seattle, Oregon, and Montana. When she’s not focused on jewelry, she works part-time at Farmstrong Brewing.
“I like doing the markets and art shows…putting a face behind what I’m doing. It’s more fun for me, you know, when people see my stuff and try it on. They get all excited and start smiling…that’s what makes it fun.”
Rainey’s first market in Washington was Valley Made Market, a Skagit-based craft fair that normally takes place in Downtown Mount Vernon but shifted to online operations amid COVID-19. She also shows jewelry at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle.
“It’s really cool being new in Bellingham and Skagit Valley, because I’m starting out in a lot of these markets, and I’ve met a lot of really cool people, and it’s starting to grow for me.”
Due to COVID-19, Rainey has found herself with even more time to work on her art. “It’s funny, the silver lining for me, during COVID, is that I’m [making jewelry] full time, and it’s working right now.”
You can find Cascadia Jewelry at local stores including The Lucky Dumpster in Edison, Fringe Boutique in Bellingham, and elSage Designs in Mount Vernon. For flash sales, custom pieces, and a glimpse into Rainey’s creative process, follow her on Instagram @cascadia.jewelry or visit cascadiajewelry.com.
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