From Georgia to Oprah


Published:

Kristen Baird’s Splash Cuff made a big splash on Oprah, but that’s just the beginning of her story.

You know you’ve arrived when Oprah Winfrey wears one of your designs, and Kristen Baird has arrived. Oprah wore one of Baird’s “Splash Cuff” bracelets — an organically textured, silver band with a gemstone at each terminal — on the air multiple times. It has come to be known as the “Oprah Cuff.”

That notoriety has not changed Baird much. She designs and produces her collections and custom pieces in a studio off the dining room of her midtown Savannah home. “We make everything using traditional metalsmithing tools,” she explains. “I’m very much a tool nerd.” Gizmos and gadgets line the walls of her small but bright workspace. “It’s top-of-the-industry machinery right here in our little studio.”

Baird remains true to values that helped her get off the ground — sustainability, ethical practices and giving back to her community. She uses eco-friendly and recycled materials as much as she can, and works hard to find vendors that follow international standards for ethically sourced metals and gemstones.

Baird gives part of her profits to a charity close to her heart — the SD Gunner Fund — which donates service dogs to veterans and disabled children. She says, “I wanted my business to stand for something. Britnee Kinard founded the fund, and there was something about her I really liked. She’s a small nonprofit. I’m a small business. We’re both women in business in different ways, so I reached out to partner with her.”

Now, her business has grown to the point where she can support two staff and “pay it forward,” as she says — a point of pride for Baird. She regularly mentors young women entrepreneurs and remains involved at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she completed her education. “A lot of people ask to pick my brain, and of course, I ask ‘Can I pick your brain?’ all the time. Building a business takes a village.”

If there’s anyone she’s competitive with, it’s herself. Baird has big goals for the future — selling her designs in all 50 states, growing to the point where she can fully fund a service dog for SD Gunner Fund, and moving toward more custom pieces and heirloom redesigns in addition to her regular collections.

“I’m constantly trying to grow what I offer, but I still want to maintain that small feel where my customers know their piece was designed and handled by me.”

She shows off a necklace she recently completed for a client with a spray of vintage diamonds set in a silver pendant. Baird explains the process; “We were able to turn it into one single piece that she can wear with diamonds from her mom, her grandma, her aunt and her sister. I’m very passionate about helping my clients when other jewelry stores can’t or won’t. If you see something you like, I can size it to you. With my heirloom redesigns, I can put the thought and care into it that my clients want with these precious pieces of family history. I want people to have a very tailored experience.”

“There’s nothing like a good story to get people’s attention,” she says of her heirloom pieces. The same could be said when your design bedecks Oprah’s wrist, but that’s just the beginning of the story for Baird.

Baird’s designs can be found on her website and in Kessler Collection hotel boutiques, as well as in select stores and galleries throughout the region. Kristenbaird.com

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