Precious Mettle 9

Jewelry Designer Carrie Schafer Inspired By Authenticity + Social, Environmental Commitment

Carrie Schafer, owner and founder of Original Hardware, a Colorado-based jewelry company, began her journey into jewelry making on a whim. While working as a global team manager for a software company, Carrie found herself wandering into a nearby bead store, looking for a creative outlet to relieve some of the stress of her job. On a wintry afternoon, Carrie settled down at her home in the BackCountry neighborhood of Highlands Ranch and made a few simple pieces. She was instantly hooked. Carrie quickly began amassing more and more jewelry-making supplies, and what started out as a hobby began evolving into a small business, and eventually into Original Hardware.

The company’s motto, “Be true to who you are and your life will unfold miraculously in front of you,” is something that rings true for Carrie, and is perhaps the reason behind the founding of Original Hardware in the first place. The willingness to take authentic risks is something Carrie consistently advocates for and is probably the reason she had the courage to leave behind her steady software job to become an entrepreneur. When asked about her philosophy, she explains, “For me personally, this is my life’s work: to continue to be authentic in how I live my life and what I choose to spend my time pursuing … For me, I’ve found that when I stay open to possibilities — the ones that really augment who I am and what I value in life — more often than not come to the surface.”

This idea of staying true to one’s own path is something that not only brought about the founding of Original Hardware, but is the inspiration behind both the making and selling of the jewelry they produce. Carrie, as well as the other female designers in the company, attempt to make jewelry that will augment the journey of their customers.

“Jewelry is an expression of who you are,” Carrie explains. “When you wear a piece of jewelry, you are telling others a bit about you and what’s important to you. When customers come into our boutique, they often have a story about why they are there: to buy a special piece for a friend or loved one or even to commemorate a special occasion for themselves. These occasions mark special places along our own journeys through life, and I’m honored when one of our pieces is a part of that.”

The pieces are designed to be treasured, and it is evident in their careful and considerate design.

Another value important to Carrie is environmental sustainability, something that can be seen in her choice of materials and vendors. All of Original Hardware’s pieces use recycled sterling silver, and 90 percent of vendors used are based in the U.S. For the vendors outside of the U.S., Carrie makes sure that environmental and social practices are carefully considered to ensure that she can stand behind the way the materials were sourced. Carrie has also committed to crafting Original Hardware pieces entirely within Colorado, a practice she plans to continue as the company grows.

In addition to her bricks-and-mortar shop in historic downtown Littleton, Original Hardware is currently sold in 150 stores across the country with pieces regularly featured in Sundance Catalog, a presence that far exceeds Carrie’s early expectations when jewelry making was just a hobby. As for the future, Carrie’s hopes for the company spring in two different directions.

“The artist in me says that if in ten years I’m still able to work in my studio and create things that people love, that would be a gift in and of itself! The entrepreneur in me would like to see Original Hardware grow to the point where we have a presence in every state and internationally.”

With that growth, Carrie hopes to continue to form partnerships with charitable organizations to increase the amount that Original Hardware can give back to the world and to make charitable giving a key element of Original Hardware’s sales strategy. We are excited to see where Carrie’s lifelong journey of being true and authentic continues to lead the company!

Visit Original Hardware at 2336 W. Main Street in Littleton or online at OriginalHardware.com.