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You may look at a rock and think nothing. Some of you may pick it up and examine it, but then toss it back to the spot where you found it. But Stephanie Stout looks at rocks differently. They are not just nature’s accessories, they are her accessories.
Vintage chains adorned with brass and rocks, cuffs that dress up your wrists and rings that adjust to your size are what make Stout’s jewelry line: Native Clutter.
“I always default to describing Native Clutter as southwestern,” said Stout. “Rustic, but structured and modern.”
Stout grew up in Utah scouring its red mountains for the most interesting fossils and rocks. Her grandfather is a jeweler and her parents owned a trading post just outside of Bryce Canyon where she spent a lot of her summers.
“My roots were my inspiration,” said Stout.
Stout’s eyes glisten as she pulls out pieces from small, burlap bags. Each piece is unique; necklaces made with her own hands.
“It’s very hands-on,” said Stout. “I will start with a little bit of sketching and then I source supplies and play around with the materials. I source materials from all over the world; some things come from the US, others from Turkey and Taiwan.”
This is the first year that Stout has worked with a manufacturer to make her cuffs and rings.
Limited edition pieces are some of Stout’s favorite items to make. Recently, dinosaur bones were the featured designs, along with aquamarine.
“If I could have a line of weird fossil jewelry I would,” said Stout, “The nuances to dinosaur bone is really pretty. You can see where the sediment has filled in the spots where the soft tissue once was. But it’s not commercial enough and to be honest, I have to pay rent somehow.”
As Stout became older, she started to take her jewelry tinkering more seriously. During her college years, Stout studied engineering and archaeology.
“I love fossils, that’s my jam,” said Stout.
It wasn’t until she moved to Denver five years ago that her business really started to take off.
“I had Native Clutter prior to moving to Denver,” said Stout. “It wasn’t until I moved that I started growing in size and production. I started working with wholesale accounts and collaborating with local fashion designers. This city launched me.”
The name Native Clutter came from the collaboration between two of her closest friends.
“My one friend thought of the word native, and the other one thought of clutter,” said Stout. “In the end it couldn’t have been more perfect because most of my jewelry components are ‘clutter that’s native to the Earth’ if you think about it.”
The hardest part about being a small business owner is branding yourself, according to Stout.
“My biggest struggle is learning how to brand myself and getting my product out there for people to see,” said Stout. “Finding the right channels and asking for help has always been hard for me.”
Stout tries to keep her collection affordable, with pieces ranging anywhere from $12-$100.
“What’s benefitted me the most is realizing that you are a business and you have to listen to feedback and what customers want,” said Stout. “Keeping prices low helps me to bring in customers.”
The most popular piece and longest running is the Terra necklace.
“I have a love/hate relationship with that necklace,” said Stout. “It’s by far my favorite piece to wear but oh my god I’ve made so many.”
As of seven months ago, Stout has a new partner in her business: Tiger the Sphinx.
“I just got a Sphinx kitten named Tiger,” said Stout. “He’s five months old, very bossy and adorable; I’m obsessed with him.”
Tiger pounces around her home studio where Stout makes her jewelry; the perfect new accessory.
“There’s something I love about having my own home studio,” said Stout. “It’s also really nice to be able to take naps whenever you want.”
Stout finds beauty in the things we normally ignore and this is what drives her love for her business.
“One of my favorite ways to spend an evening is just sitting at my desk with a beer, playing around with all of the different components that make my pieces,” said Stout. “That’s what makes me happy.”