Sabo Designs’ Annamarie has been preparing for her jewelry career her whole life. Her parents ran a remote resort in Alaska that attracted a host of international guests, giving her both a love of her natural surroundings and an eye to the world beyond her home. Her career is all about rebirth – a fire destroyed her retail store a decade ago, leading her to look for a fresh start. She threw herself into jewelry design, learning techniques like silversmithing and lost wax casting to prepare for her new career. Inspired by nature and made with Fair Trade and sustainable materials, Sabo Designs is a beautiful brand in every way.
I think of myself and my career as an evolution. My education, travels and life experiences all have contributed to the designer I am now. I’m always looking for ways to further my process and extend my gaze.
After I studied business administration at Western Washington University, I had a career that spanned event production, videography and owning several retail stores. I traveled the world, living my early childhood dream of seeing the places where our worldly guests came from. Whether I was in Japan, India, or Europe, I was absorbing cultures and places, weaving my own fabric from all of it.
Everyone has a turning point, and mine came in 2000 after a terrible fire took both my home and my retail business. I was in Seattle then, and left for Europe soon after to decide what my next step would be. It was a time to restart my life, and I knew I had to focus on my own creativity. I knew fine jewelry, so began studying silversmithing, lost wax casting and jewelry design, then launched my own line in 2005.
Turning to the natural environment was like going back to my childhood. I found endless inspiration in nature’s own architecture. Once I started creating new pieces, it was like a fire sparked within me and I had no choice but to follow where it led. Whether I was in the Arizona desert, on the shore of Puget Sound or on walkabout through an old growth forest, I saw new designs emerging right in front of me.
Organic is the first word that comes to mind, since my designs originate in nature. But from that point I refine and define small elements to tease out what will eventually be a ring, bracelet or necklace.
Direct casting from an organic element is the most rewarding process, especially the excitement when you release the centrifuge and the molten metal flows into the awaiting negative space of your design.
I work in several different mediums, casting directly from an organic object, hand carving in wax, precious metal clay and my latest endeavor: mitsuro - an ancient tradition from Japan of hand working soft honey wax into pliable ribbon like strands. Right now that is my favorite because it demands something totally focused from me.
Getting inspired isn’t the issue for me, it’s more a question of allowing enough space in my life to channel that inspiration. I’ve had to re-allocate my studio hours, literally carve out time alone so I can enjoy the design process completely, without distraction and interference. Luckily, I have built a special studio space just for that important work, a retreat of my own away from the daily demands of my business.
That material integrity is at the heart of my design practice. I source Fair Trade, conflict-free gemstones and emphasize the use of reclaimed silver and gold in my casts. For me, making jewelry is a way to pay tribute to the world in which we live. My pieces begin and end with a connection to nature, from the earth to the person who wears it. You have to start with the finest quality materials if you hope to have the finest quality pieces, and nothing else satisfies me.
What isn’t a challenge when you are establishing your own business? And if you are headstrong, like me, it can be a blessing and a curse! Honestly, I love being an independent designer, living in both sides of my brain creatively and as a businessperson, but finding the hours to get it all done can be daunting. It’s not like I can shut the door and walk away from the studio. It is with me all the time, but I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way.
She stands out but doesn’t shout out. The person I design for is comfortable in the world, no matter where she is. She is confident, strong and beautiful. She seeks out quality and has a timeless, eternal sense of style. I hope my pieces travel as an extension of the owner’s personality, not just an accessory or fashion piece. They are expressions of love, of connection to nature, and of individual style.
So many of the pieces remind me of where I first discovered them. The cactus cuffs are a prime example of connection to a specific time and place. Seeing them takes me to Sabino Canyon, a trail outside of Tucson, Arizona. The splash of topaz brings me to the warm shores of Santa Barbara, CA.
I think the best designers stay close to their inspiration and continue to refine their art. Fashion evolves, styles change, but there is something eternal in the best designs. That is what I’m after.
When I’m not deep in my own urban farm sanctuary in West Seattle, where I live and work, I do have some favorite places in the city. I started my retail business in the Ballard neighborhood over a decade ago, and that quirky village always feels like home. You can walk Ballard Avenue and find something excellent to eat or drink about every ten feet. Their Sunday farmer’s market is one of the city’s most vibrant, year-round. I have a weakness for La Carta de Oaxaca’s mole sauce. It takes me to Mexico at the first taste. Heaven.