We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristi Ruthless and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristi Ruthless, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I first started out making jewelry, I was wire wrapping bones/toys/trash I found around and wearing them as Earrings! I took my first basic Silversmithing class many years later as a way to expand my knowledge around jewelry design and make lasting heirloom pieces, completely fell head over heels with the process. At the time I was working full time as a Cosmetologist, but started making adornments and selling them at markets to keep purchasing the tools needed and materials to make things in the garage out of my house. I also was working door at venues and saving anything extra I was making to buy the tools to expand my studio and eventually have a fully functional at home studio. As someone who has worked for others since the age of 12, and struggled with physical and mental health issues I knew working for myself was the ultimate goal so I can could focus on getting better, without fear of being fired or depending on tips, even when having bad flair ups and forcing myself to work through it because I had to. Being able to set my own schedule and allow myself to rest, has allowed me to dedicate more time on being healthy and putting myself first. Its been a challenge, but I am actually celebrating my four year Anniversary of being a full time metalsmith and jewelry designer! Starting from scratch and building a business up by yourself with almost nothing obviously has has its challenges; but I feel extremely grateful to have created Foxtrot without any business training, a 9th grade education, many burnt fingers and melted pieces watching tutorials on Youtube, with just a desire to learn about the craft and adorn folk in ethical jewels.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I had originally started making my own jewelry by wire wrapping bones, toys and other fun things I found! As I got more into designing I realized that I wanted to make more permanent heirloom jewelry, and took a beginner Ring making class at Creative Side in Austin Tx. Once I put heat to metal it was over for me, I completely fell in love with every aspect of the process of metal smithing. After that I watched every silversmithing video I could find on Youtube, resulting in a lot of melted Silver, burnt fingers and callouses from hammering away between the three jobs I was working to support this new found love and hobby. I started selling jewelry at local markets around town to try and continue to build up my small home studio and the expensive tools required for advanced metal forming. Four years ago I took the plunge to decide to try and Silversmith and Jewelry design full time, with no startup money or loans which meant just living how I always have, frugal and broke! It was challenging running a business that depended so much on hauling a market setup with no vehicle; there is definitely a special place in my heart to my friends who gave me rides to my events and shows with my drum kit, but there is not enough space here to go down that right now! Now i get to work on metal smithing everyday out of my home studio, making sure to use ethically sourced stones and crystals, mostly recycled metals, and work at my own pace which is so important for my mental and physical health.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are some things I truly love about Austin Tx, but unfortunately some of those things are not accessible at the moment, like being able to go to shows! But if it was during our “new normal” I would absolutely take them to Lady Bird Lake to walk the River path, the Botanical Gardens and the Blue Starlight Drive in Theatre for physically distanced hangs! As for stuffing our faces with delicious food, I would make sure to take them to Bouldin Creek, Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food, and Possum Park in North Loop that has some of my favorite vegan food trucks and bakery in one little courtyard! There we would eat Sundayze, Wasota Vegan Paradise, Bistro Vonish and top it all off with Zucchini Kills amazing deserts.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would definitely say Allyson Garro. who was first person to hire me in Austin, carry the first iterations of my work, and allow me to host my first Foxtrot Jewelry collection release in Coco Coquette, her gorgeous shop of glitter and magic on Ceasar Chavez here in Austin. She encouraged me on this journey to no end, and I owe her many thanks for believing in me!! Also everyone who has connected with my work and uplifted me while learning how to Metal Smith and fine tune slinging my wares, they have allowed me to do what I love and those are to many to name.