Sarah Cavender is a local jewelry designer. Her work is sold through her Oxford storefront — Sarah Cavender Metalworks — her website and several museums and stores throughout the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.
How are you connected to our community?
My dad was in the Air Force, but he is from Heflin. I was born out in California, we moved around, and we settled in the Philadelphia area. That is where I went to school to study art.
What is your background in art?
I majored in sculpture at Philadelphia College of Art. I started making jewelry pretty quickly, and I have been doing it ever since.
Did you always enjoy creating art?
Yes, I loved to paint and draw when I was a kid. I was always drawing. I discovered three-dimensional art, and I really liked it.
How did you transition from artist to jewelry designer?
I did not think I would survive as an artist just making sculptures. I felt that jewelry would be a great way to have a business and incorporate art and creativity. I had worked at an art gallery along with some other jobs in school, and I quickly realized that that was a tough road to go down. I do not know what I was thinking getting a degree in sculpture (laughter). But it all worked out.
Tell us about Sarah Cavender Metalworks.
I started in 1984 selling wholesale to stores, and that is primarily what I still do. I moved a couple of times, Philadelphia to Miami, then here to Oxford. First, the business was in my backyard in a small shed. We bought our current building in the early ’90s. It was falling in on itself, so we did some reconstruction and remodeling. We opened the storefront in the early ’90s, but nobody really came in, so we focused more on selling to stores and doing wholesale trade shows. We tried again a few years later, and the business has slowly grown from there. We have events here at the store, like the annual event we have for S.A.V.E. (Saving Animals Volunteer Effort), which is typically the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
Why is hosting events like S.A.V.E.’s important to you?
Our employees like that we are doing something for the community, and it is good for the community. We donate 25 percent of our gross sales that night to S.A.V.E.
Where is your merchandise available?
It is available at wholesale price through our Oxford storefront and at Nunnally’s in Anniston. If you purchase through any other locations or the website, shopsarahcavender.com, you will pay retail price.
How many employees do you have?
I have five employees: Freda Wood, who is our production manager and handles the front shop; Shaun Sexton who is an expert at soldering and metal finishing; Cheryl Cameron, who is a portrait artist and jewelry paint master; Suzanne Veitengruber, who handles quality control, jewelry finishing, and packing and shipping; and Dede Garfrerick, our sales associate, trade show helper and new office manager.
What are the day-to-day operations like?
If somebody is out, I can do any of the jobs listed above, but my main job is making the original designs, selling pieces and deciding our direction. We work in the fashion industry and the crafts industry. We sell to a lot of museum stores and botanical gardens. We do a lot with the screening sculptural flowers and botanical themes and bugs.
How long does it take to go from concept to finished product?
It could take hours, or it could take days. You always work in groups. We have boxes and boxes of unfinished ideas lying around.
Do you have a favorite piece you have made?
No, but I do love the flower pieces and our new collars.
What inspires your work?
Nature, specifically flowers and leaves, as well as shapes that occur in nature, like spiderwebs or the way water runs down a drain. The materials I use also inspire my work. Fashion inspires me as well.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about my work. I enjoy making beautiful things that give people joy and pleasure.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.