Local Jewelry Designer: 'I Feel So Lucky'
Owner of Buckingham Style creates meaningful, beautiful pieces.
This Q&A feature helps readers learn more about people living and working in the Mount Vernon business community. This week’s Q&A profiles Beth Bottcher, Designer/Owner, Buckingham Style.
Bottcher, who is originally from Northern Michigan, has lived in the Mount Vernon area for eight years. Prior to living in Northern Virginia, she and her husband, Bruno, lived in Ventura, CA. She has a Bachelors of Arts degree from Grand Valley State University in MI, as well as a Masters of Arts degree from Fairfield State University in Fairfield, CT. In addition, Beth received her Professional Designation of Apparel Manufacturing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
Bottcher has worked in the fashion business for more than 20 years. She began creating handmade jewelry on the side during the 1980s. She launched Buckingham Style, her unique, handcrafted jewelry business that showcases jewelry designs featuring vintage glass beads, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, freshwater cultured pearls and sterling silver, in 2005. Some of Bottcher's best selling designs are from her 23rd Psalm jewelry collection, which is packaged to include a 23rd Psalm prayer card. Bottcher's jewelry is handmade and generally one-of-a-kind, and can be customized as gifts for special events and occasions, including baptisms, birthdays, confirmations, first communions, graduations, and weddings.
Beth and her husband have been married for “15 lovely years” and have a son, 9, and a daughter, 8.
How did you become interested in your line of work?
All my life, since about age 7, I have loved making things. It’s always been my favorite thing to do. Pre-kids, I worked in the L.A. fashion industry. I frequently traveled back and forth; I also managed a New York City showroom. I sold fabric and clothes, and worked with a number of designers on a women’s sportswear line. I also worked with major accounts across the country, including Nordstrom’s. At different points throughout my life, I have made jewelry in between other passions like dyeing, painting, sewing and knitting.
What prompted you to launch Buckingham Style?
I left the fashion industry scene after I had children, but I missed that “creative outlet,” as well as the chance to use my brain in a different way. I realized that while being at home raising my kids has been a great joy, I felt like I needed to do try out running my own jewelry business, too. That is how Buckingham Style was started. It was a natural segue to get into jewelry, having been in the fashion business for so many years.
How has your business changed since 2005?
While I still use a lot of the same elements in my designs [i.e., vintage glass beads, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, freshwater cultured pearls, and sterling silver], I have expanded my metals. Sterling silver has more than tripled in price since I started doing this…it’s almost to the point that it’s becoming more of a precious metal. A lot of the work I do now involves beautiful pieces in bronze, brass, antique brass and stainless steel.
Talk about your new approach with regards to your business.
I recently updated my mission statement: “To add beauty to the world by creating beautiful and meaningful jewelry and prayer pieces that bring connectedness, comfort and joy to people’s lives.” I love knowing that something I create is going to have lasting meaning, and that it’s going to be used year in and year out.
As a business owner with two small kids, how do you balance work and home life?
Now that my kids are in school full time, it’s much easier. I’m able to divide my time between things that need to happen in our household and the work that needs to be done for my business. When I do have weekend events scheduled for the business I have to work it into the family schedule. I think I have a pretty good process…it takes lots of advanced planning, attention to detail and good scheduling skills. The incredible blessing about being able to have a home-based business is that I truly can have that flexibility. If I want to go to my son’s baseball game, or volunteer in my daughter’s class, I have that option of working it into my schedule. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I feel so lucky.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The colors and textures, the beads, making something beautiful. I just love putting all of these things together to make a beautiful, meaningful piece.
Where is your favorite place to go in the area?
I like to take the kids to Riverside Park [off the George Washington Memorial Parkway]. The sunsets there are great, and we like to go and feed the ducks.
Do you have a favorite area restaurant?
What’s the last book you read?
Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza.
If you weren’t in this business, what would you be doing?
I am actually living my dream job. This is what I always wanted to do. I love the jewelry business and want to see if it can eventually grow. I’m just waiting for the kids to get a little bigger and more independent. I am truly blessed.