Meet the Maker: Cait Sherrick, Leocadia K.

April 25, 2017

Cait Sherrick is a jewelry designer, stylist, and avid chai tea drinker who lives, designs, and styles in Connecticut. We love Cait's jewelry line, Leocadia K., because of each piece's uniqueness and raw, personal touch. Cait pours her heart into every handmade necklace and pair of earrings she creates, and it's easy to see the thought and craftsmanship in her designs. We hope you love Leocadia K. as much as we do!

Tell us about your journey to becoming a jewelry designer and starting your own business.

I’ve always designed and made my own jewelry. My favorite thing to do at summer camp as a kid was make hemp necklaces, and in college, I’d make jewelry for my friends’ birthdays and Christmas presents. As I got older, even though I’d make jewelry for fun, I never really saw it as a career option. I got my degree in drawing, and have really deep creative roots within the fine art world. I tried one creative job after another, but couldn’t find one in the fine art world, and even outside the fine art world, I couldn’t find anything that would suit my needs creatively.

When I married a sailor, I no longer got to choose where I lived or how often I moved or what kind of jobs were available in those locations. While working a few different graphic design jobs, I took a yoga teacher training course and got more into yoga clothing and yoga jewelry. I kept coming across women who were selling jewelry in Etsy shops and I thought: I can make that. I can sell that. I’m already making that. I was still making jewelry for myself, kept seeing interest in the things I was making and was feeling  increasingly more unhappy in every “real-world” job I was taking, so I used my fine art and graphic design backgrounds to design my logo and set up my website. At the time, I was also preparing to PCS and send my then-husband off on a year-long deployment, which meant I’d have to look for a new job in our new location, alone, AGAIN, and that all sounded pretty awful, so the timing to start my own business felt right.

Sun Moon Necklace

Shop Here: Sun Moon Necklace

What is your inspiration for creating new pieces?

I’m deeply inspired by modern art from the 20th century. It feeds my soul to go to museums. I don’t necessarily see a painting and say, “Oh I want to make something based on that.” I have the modern art aesthetic so ingrained in my brain that when I design, things naturally end up looking abstract and modern because it’s now my aesthetic too. I LOVE Mark Rothko, a mid-20th century painter. He painted what he called “color fields”. They’re huge canvases made up of colored negative space, and I could spend all day looking at them. My photos on Instagram—the compositions and the way the colors are laid out—remind me of him. But I’m mostly inspired by the whole modern art movement and what it stood for: experimentation, new ways of looking at the world, fresh ways to combine materials, the definition of art. I’m inspired by it but my pieces really do have a life of their own. They’re Southern California cool with a modern art vibe.

I also get inspired by the supplies themselves. If I want to create and I know I need some new pieces, I’ll browse supply shops on Etsy for inspiration and go from there. Other times, I get an idea in my head—which is usually, conveniently, right before I go to sleep—and then I’ll hunt down specific supplies for that idea. I don’t design collections, but rather I swap pieces in and out to adapt to my store’s inventory needs, which actually helps me have a little more freedom creatively.

And, I’m always inspired by things I see around me, from making tea to the clouds in the sky…just the little details in life. The things that most people don’t notice are the things that make me happy. They don’t all translate literally into my designs, but I file them all away in my mind and when I sit down to create, they naturally appear in their own way in my final designs.

Athena Necklace

Shop Here: Athena Necklace

When designing your jewelry, do you typically try to stick to guidelines or a specific style?

I have a few basic guidelines that I stick to. I only work with gold and brass, not silver. I use the same shaped chain for all of my necklaces. The chains range in size but even with the size difference I only use 2-3 different sizes. Also, I layer A LOT. Whether it’s brass on brass, wood and tassels or stone on brass, I try to make sure every single piece of jewelry has both hard (industrial, man-made, angular) and soft (organic, earthy, curvy) elements within their design. The combination of hard and soft is something I’m totally fascinated by in life and finding the right balance of the two within my own life is something I’m continuously working on.

I decided on these guidelines very early on in my business as a way to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed by all of the options out there, and now I continue to use them to keep my work all within the same style. The individual elements might change within any new design, but the bones remain the same and because of this, no matter what I design, my jewelry has the same overall vibe.

Giant Mala Necklace

Shop Here: Giant Mala Necklace

Who is the biggest influence in your career?

My maternal grandmother. She hasn’t influenced my career per se, but my business is named after her. Her name was Leocadia. It was pronounced Leo-Kah-Tee-Uh in Polish, but my family pronounces it Leo-Kay-Dee-Uh, and both her maiden and married names started with a K, so I kept the K in my business name too.  She’s also directly related to WHY I do what I do. My brand is about having a unique sense of style, embracing your inner free spirit and cultivating a fresh perspective on life, all things she had and did. The essence of my business is very much a mixture of the things I know about her and my own creative intuition.

How has your brand evolved to what it is today?

When I first started out my branding was a bit more tribal and bohemian. While I am very much a modern bohemian and what I do is very much modern bohemian, I quickly realized that I’m also very simple, mindful and minimal. My branding is Caitie Sherrick meets Southern California, so after about a year, I redesigned my logo, website and packaging to give my branding a simpler look. I still use the same designs today. As my personal tastes have gotten more refined so has my creativity. You can definitely see this in my Instagram feed (@caitiesherrick). If you scroll back through my feed, you’ll notice that the coloring, compositions and content has changed for the better.

What advice would you give to other artisans trying to start their own business?

Trust yourself. You’re much smarter and much more capable than you give yourself credit for.