I have been wanting to show more behind the scenes of Christina Kober Designs and I thought the best way would be to first introduce you to our team. The CKD team is amazing. We are close-knit group that sometimes feels more like a family than a business - a great mix of dynamic, dedicated and talented women, that bring different backgrounds and experiences to build a very strong team.
In our Team Spotlight series, I will be introducing you to our team one at a time. I am so excited to share who we are, the team that brings Christina Kober Designs to life. We are the people who handstamp, solder and polish your jewelry, the ones that answer your questions, and the ones that package up your orders with love. My hope is that you will see more of what makes us who we are, what drives us, and connect to our stories of what inspires us.
For the fifth installment of our “Team Spotlight” series I am introducing you to me! This week I am celebrating 11 years of business and thought this was the perfect opportunity to let you know a little more about myself. I decided to organize this a little differently than our usual questions - I asked the team to ask me questions... so without further ado
Hi! I'm Christina Kober Kauke!
You’re Christina at Christina Kober Designs, but for us who don’t know, what is your role in the company?
I am the founder and CEO of Christina Kober Designs.
What does your typical day at CKD look like?
My days vary - some days I am solely helping out with production or designing new pieces. The next day could be all meetings, from marketing, accounting, new business, pr, etc.. And then the next day I’m making displays for our next trade show. Having a varying schedule is one of the things I really enjoy about running a business. Some days I think I’ll be doing one thing and end up doing something completely different.
What is something you think most people don’t know about handmade jewelry?
Jewelry making is a REALLY dirty process, until the final clean up. The metal we use is purchased in flat sheets or coils of wire, which is typically clean and shiny. But then we cut, sand, and drill, leaving behind shavings and metal dust and the metal is dull and sharp. Then we form, hammer, and stamp the metal leaving behind marks that must be sanded and polished. Next we solder - where we use a torch to connect metal joints together. During this process we use solutions to keep the metal from tarnishing from the high heat. Then we sand again - to clean up any extra solder. Lastly, we polish to make the jewelry shiny - which might be the dirtiest process - your fingers and metal turn black from the polishing compounds but once the compound is removed, you have beautiful rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Being the daughter of a jeweler and working under him for years, what is the biggest lesson you learned from him in business and in the craft of jewelry making?
For business :
I learned about customer service from my dad. He always treated his customers with respect and like individuals - building relationships was important because without customers you don’t have a business. And while neither of us are what you would call extroverts - being nice and coming from a place of openness goes a long way.
For jewelry making :
I learned about quality and wearability. One thing my dad always told his customers is that when you buy something; unless you know you are buying it for the short-term, you want to buy for the long haul. You don’t want to be replacing things every few months. Use the best quality you can while keeping it affordable. As far as wearability: when I would show my dad a new piece I designed he would ask me: “Well, did you wear it? How does it feel?” And while he didn’t hold back on the design critiques, he said since I was designing for myself and women like myself, I needed to like it and want to wear it.
What does a “treat yourself” day look like to you?
What does a “treat yourself” day look like to you? It would definitely begin with sleeping in. Then have a delicious breakfast and go for a walk in the park - or to truly treat myself: a walk on the beach. Go shopping with some girl friends at some local, small boutiques and grab lunch at a cute cafe. Then have a sweet date night with my husband at one of our favorite restaurants.
You would definitely win trivia if it was a crime theme night! If you had to recommend one crime related podcast, what would it be and why?
My Favorite Murder - While this podcast isn’t for everyone, as it is a comedy murder podcast, Georgia and Karen tell these true crime stories in such a way that one minute you’re crying, the next cringing, and the next laughing. They also do a wonderful job of talking about anxiety and mental health. SSDGM
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ARE WELL KNOWN FOR AROUND THE STUDIO?
Hahaha, well probably my random “deet doo dat” sounds I make when I’m thinking, my awesome dance moves, and my inability to put anything back where I found it (my husband is affected by this last one too).
Mary Ellen asks : As a business owner, what is the greatest lesson you have learned and will carry with you?
I have two :
1. Hire an accountant. Taxes, laws and all the things related are very complicated, and mistakes are more expensive than having a good accountant in the first place.
2. Trust your gut. Sometimes I try to follow the path of what I think everyone else does and not what I think is my way. I end up disappointed, unhappy or right back where I started. You don’t have to run your business like everyone else. Create your own path - you know the way.
Emily asks : What is the best thing about your company being run and operated by women?
Our team is like family to me. I love each and every one of my employees past and present. I think a huge part of this is how much we build each other up and empower one another.
Sara asks : What is your favorite piece of jewelry that you personally own?
Outside of my CKD pieces, there are a few pieces that I adore. The first is my grandmother’s chain, she wore it every day and it is such a special heirloom piece. The second is my engagement ring - my husband designed it using the things I really liked and what he really liked to create a ring that represented both of us. The third is the first piece of fine jewelry I ever bought for myself by one of my jewelry heros - Michael Good.
Suzanne asks : What is the most rewarding and also the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?
Today one of the best things about having a business is knowing that I employ 7 talented women - built from something that was once a side hustle to make a little extra cash.
I think the hardest thing is that this business is me - it is my life - and sometimes it’s really hard to step back or take a break which has affected my health.
Blaque asks : If you could choose just one, would you solely be the creative side of your company or the business side and why?
Creative all the way. While I am a mix of a creative and an analytical person - when I was in the public health sector I missed having a creative outlet in my work. However I think there are always ways to incorporate some part of my analytical side into my creativity.
Meghan asks : If you could go back 11 years to when you were just starting out, is there anything you would have done differently?
I think I wouldn’t have second guessed myself so much. But honestly, if I wouldn’t have second guessed myself I wouldn’t be where I am today. So I wish I would have hired an accountant at the beginning.
What is your favorite CKD piece and why?
I can't choose just one - I love the Arc Necklace because it is very different and versatile. The Linked Bangle is another favorite because I remember designing it and thinking it was a little out of my normal design style, but I loved the look of the bold links so much that I couldn’t NOT make it. Coming soon - I love the Mini Diamond Dusted Ear Climbers, Large Diamond Dusted Adjustable Ring and the Small Coin Necklace - but you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see them!
Ok, now time for a little quick fire….
Gold, silver, or rose gold?
Diamond dusted or Inspired?
Savory or sweet?
Both at the same time - hello frosty and fries!
Receiving gifts or giving gifts?
Simple or Layered?
Wide ring or Narrow ring?
Coffee or tea?
Dog or cat?
INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK?
SUMMER OR WINTER?
NEUTRALS OR COLORS?