Missouri native Lily Dawson began creating her own line of handmade jewelry in 2008 after attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. After moving back to the Midwest, Dawson began selling the earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings she creates at her Crossroads Arts District studio online.
Dawson’s one-of-a-kind designs are not only on-trend, but they’re also affordable, ranging in price from $25 to $65. Although the thought of creating custom pieces for brides didn’t originally appeal to the designer, requests from customers changed her mind, as did a recent collaboration with Laura Ross, the owner of local bridal boutique Bride.
KC Weddings: What interested you in creating a line of jewelry specifically for brides?
Lily Dawson: I got so many requests for bridal stuff, so I usually just sent pictures of past pieces I had done, because they weren’t products I had on my website. So I thought I should just offer them to the public on my website. About a year and a half ago, I added bridal to the site. The first collection I added was just past custom projects.
Then Laura reached out to me about working together. She was like, “Why don’t you and I collaborate on a collection of nontraditional bridal pieces?” This absolutely was not on my spectrum at all until she mentioned it, so it was pretty magical when she came to me and told me she was interested. All of the framework was definitely set by her, and I just put everything into samples.
KCW: How is the collaboration with Bride different than other pieces you’ve made?
LD: Laura’s shop is very hip, and she carries dresses that are nontraditional and have modern accents to them. I knew this collection wouldn’t be your run-of-the-mill bridal jewelry. When she started talking about ear jackets and crawlers, I was just tickled. The way she thinks isn’t fancy-formal—it’s “What’s cool, and how can we make this still tasteful?”—which isn’t a skill a lot of people have. She has a really lovely eye. It’s a total package and I love that she was able to inspire me to create things that are in line with what she does. It really just pointed me in a direction I would never have gone on my own.
KCW: What sets the line apart from other bridal collections?
LD: It’s lots of opal and rose-gold and gold, so it gets away from the clear Svarkosky crystals and more neutral colors. It’s just been so cool. Laura knows exactly what her customers ask for, and she sees the dresses they put on. So she’s coming directly from the client to me saying, “This is what they’re asking for.” The intel she’s offering is so much greater than me just guessing. She’s the one that had the idea of adding color and using different materials, and it just really broadened my mind.
KCW: How do you want a Lily Dawson bride to feel in your jewelry on their wedding day?
LD: I want them to be really comfortable, and I hope for that in everything I do. I’ve sold a ton of pieces from this bridal collection to people who want to wear them with T-shirts and jeans, and I think it’s great that they can translate to everyday wear. These are so much more than a one-time use thing.
KCW: All of your pieces are under $100. Did you make a conscious effort to make the bridal line affordable?
LD: I started this business when I was in college, so I wanted to make jewelry that my friends could afford. I continue to strive for that client today. I’m 30 years old, and I still can’t afford to go out and buy super expensive jewelry and accessories. It’s easy for local and handmade to get really expensive, so if I can make things as cheaply as possible, that’s my goal. And even better if my customers can afford to buy two or three pieces. It’s definitely one of my biggest defining factors of my brand—everything is under $100 and the bridal collection is no exception. I want people on their wedding day to wear something special, not just a pair of rhinestone earrings from a department store.