Kate Ellen is one of those girls that you just instantly like. She’s the perfect combination of hip, creative and totally down-to-earth.
She’s the kind of girl that you can talk deep philosophical “what’s the meaning of life” kinda chats with. And 5 minutes later talk about the best places to hike and camp in the redwoods.
I first met Kate at her beautiful Oakland jewelry shop, Crown Nine. If you’re ever in Oakland, it’s a must-see. Expertly curated jewelry designers + art + assorted goodies, in a stunning rustic, wood-paneled, lofted, dream of a location. Girl’s got it goin’ on!
When I was selecting our first round of Guest Editors in Residence on the blog, I knew that I wanted Kate’s magical, FUN, voice to be apart of the crew. And I’m so honored that she’s been here with us to bless this new iteration of The Girl Who Knows.
Enjoy this insightful Q+A with the incomparable Kate Ellen!
To kick this party off, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now? What do you do in the world? What do you love?
I am Kate Ellen, a jewelry designer and boutique owner in Oakland, CA. I grew up here in the Bay Area, in a tiny little town called Forest Knolls in West Marin. I had the freedom to roam and play outside in creeks and fields and forests to my hearts content. As a result, I am someone who loves communion with the natural world, hardcore freedom and independence, and a deep curiosity about the world that seems to never be satiated.
If you had told me 10 years ago, hell even six years ago, that I would be doing what I am doing now, I just simply would not have believed you. I was in social work and public health and I felt called to it. After graduation I was a sex ed teacher, a caseworker for HIV+ women, a 2nd grade teacher in the Bronx… I did many things I loved and felt passionate about.
Yet… even when I was a teenager I knew that I was most turned on by working with my hands, touching things, moving my body, thinking about science and art and beauty. It took a while to circle back to that core. Now I make things, I get to be creative all day long, be surrounded by creative people who inspire me, and serve my clients by bringing them beautiful things they cherish. Life is long; my passion and job and direction may change again. For now though, it’s perfectly what I want.
Why did you decide to start your business (both Kate Ellen Metals + your shop Crown Nine)?
Because I wanted to make jewelry, I wanted to be around art and artists, and I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to create a life that was inspired, independent, restful, and changeable.
What do you think is important about the work you do in the world?
Selfishly (the good kind, I think!) because it totally fuels me and makes me feel a part of the universe. Beyond that, I wholeheartedly believe in jewelry as a form of expression, a unique art form that is different from all others. Not only is it worn on the body and very intimate in that way, but it’s also deeply personal as we imbue it with so much meaning.
How do you stay motivated and inspired in your work and life?
By going outside. Time alone. Space. Play. Live music. Laughter. Curiosity.
‘Cause we’re all about the senses ’round here, what’s your predominant or favorite sense? And how do you use your senses to help you live a more rich + fulfilling life?
Touch. All. The. Way.
I love to use my hands to work. I love moving. I have always learned better by doing. Touch is also a massive part of giving and receiving love of all kinds, and in expressing sexuality.
I think I am most in my own flow when I feel physically engaged and sensuously connected to my sense of touch, so it’s not so much that I ‘use it’ to have a fuller life, it’s simply my nature and always has been. I do see how this effects my work– I make things that feel good on the skin, feel good to rub, or have a weight that feels amazing . Generally, I spend a lot of time doing things that make my body feel good.
Why do you think the senses so important?
They engage you with the present moment.
What are some of your favorite ways to indulge your senses?
Running and sweating. Cooking. Hiking outside. Listening to music or radio programs. Breathing. Dancing. Wearing a badass perfume. Making things.
What are some of your favorite things (that light up your senses)?
California open spaces. A quiet cup of tea. Cosecha for tacos with habenero hot sauce. Stinson Beach. Cooking in my kitchen.
On another note . . . as you know, we’re big birthday (month) fans around here, what is your dream way to spend your birthday?
With no fanfare, I usually don’t tell anyone and prefer to just go to work. I enjoy getting calls from my nearest loved ones throughout the day. And to celebrate, I just like a good meal with someone I like a lot. And birthday candles are cool.
And one final question: what do you know, for sure?
That it’s okay.
Thank you for your beautiful conversation Kate! We love having you be a part of the community here at The Girl Who Knows.
Be sure to check out Kate’s Contributor page for more info + to say hi to her around the ‘web. And of course, please stop by Kate’s website Crown Nine, and check out all of the amazing jewelry + finds (it’s delicious)!