I chatted with jewelry designer Cindy Liebel early one afternoon as she sat in her bright sunlit studio in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She looked cute and comfy with her short, natural hairdo and silver earrings. And the studio? Well, that’s the one that her husband built for her jewelry design business. More on the studio a little later.
In part 1 of this series, we covered jewelry designer Tracey Timmons, who makes custom jewelry necklaces that ooze with romance and sentiment. This week we’re heading in another direction, featuring Cindy Liebel and her modern minimalist jewelry designs that are fit for . . . well, just about every woman.
CINDY LIEBEL–HANDmade MODERN MINIMALIST JEWELRY
Cindy says that her customers are primarily moms and other women with careers. They come from all age groups—young, middle age, older—and it’s easy to understand why her customer base is so broad. Her jewelry designs are sleek and airy, with a focus on lots of empty space. They also have an aura of sophistication that a more mature woman would find appealing. Cindy says she’s inspired by architecture and the art deco style, and you can see that influence in the strong geometric lines and shapes of her jewelry.
This mother of two, a son age 17 and a daughter going on 13 (I know. She looks too young to have teenage children!), started crafting in 2007 and has been selling her modern minimalist jewelry since 2014.
It’s hard to believe now, but Cindy almost ended her business at one point.
“I was working in our garage and ready to give up,” she says. “The winter months were brutal and made it difficult to complete projects.” Her husband noticed that she was researching sheds and soon offered to build one for her. She didn’t take him seriously, but weeks later he showed up with a sketch for a jewelry studio. They bought repurposed windows and doors from Habitat for Humanity and went to work. A few months later, her studio was complete, just before the start of another harsh winter. She calls the studio her “Lady Lair.”
It’s easy to see the joy she gets from having a nice, warm studio to work in, but this hasn’t been an easy time lately for Cindy, with COVID-19 changing everything for all of us and especially for small businesses. “It’s really hard because everyday is different. I have some highs and lows with my mood.”
But this is her livelihood, she adds. She has to keep going. Jewelry designers haven’t been able to sell in person in shows like many of them once did. But fortunately, Cindy says, she is finding that people are shopping more online. She thinks that’s to seek a bit of normalcy in this changing world. “They’re probably tired of buying food,” she says with an understanding smile.
She also notes that more men are buying gifts of jewelry for their wives. Puzzled, I ask why she believes that’s happening. I have to laugh when she tells me she thinks it’s because they’re spending a lot of time at home now and coming to appreciate their wives more.
Although Cindy says she’s adjusting to this new normal, she’s still eager to get back to doing shows. She feels that it’s important to connect to people when you’re an artist and work alone all day. Being out and about helps her get a better feel for the kinds of things her customers are interested in. “It’s nice to go out and connect with them,” she says. “Their opinions matter.”
When the dangers of COVID-19 ease, she also hopes to do more traveling for leisure and to take time off for self-care. She enjoys spinning, rowing and lifting weights, both at the gym and at home, where she has set up a small space with weights, a spin bike, and a rower. “I’m hoping to use this time to reflect on how I do things on a personal and business level and implement those ideas in the future.”
You can find Cindy’s modern minimalist jewelry designs in galleries and boutiques around the country (see her website for locations). You can learn more about Cindy and her work on Instagram @cindyliebel and on her website, cindyliebel.com.
Next up in the series: Candace Stribling and her contemporary, classic jewelry designs