WOW: Katie of Soft Corner
This Women-Owned Wednesday, I interviewed with Katie Tiehen, founder of Portland based jewelry brand Soft Corner, about the story behind her business, why she shops women-owned, and her love for Fleabag.
BC: Tell us a little bit about the vision and idea behind your brand.
KT: Soft Corner was kind of an accident, born out of me being a little bit lazy and cold a few winters ago. At the time, I was working a lot with porcelain clay at a community studio in Seattle, but having my hands in cold clay water until 10pm every night after work started bumming me out, so I started looking for something I could make from home. I picked up some Sculpey at the art supply store on a whim and got completely hooked on the opportunity to mix a limitless number of shades. I loved that I could make really ridiculous statement earrings that weigh virtually nothing. Long story short, I made myself a few pairs of earrings, wore them to work, sold a handful...and then thought, “Maybe this is a thing I could do?” That was two years ago and I’ve been building the Soft Corner vision as I go since then. Today, Soft Corner exists to make really wearable, minimal accessories that won’t break the bank or your ears.
"I loved that I could make really ridiculous statement earrings that weigh virtually nothing."
BC: What’s your favorite part of your job?
KT: My favorite part of the making process is color mixing. I’ve learned so much about the way colors work together over the past few years. I mix all of my colors by hand— both because I’m extra and in hopes that you get something really special and unique out of each piece. The best part of making jewelry as a whole though is seeing my work out in the world. Seeing my earrings walk down the street on a total stranger never stops being cool.
BC: What inspires you?
KT: Most days, it’s more a question of what doesn’t! Anyone who knows me knows that leaving the house usually involves taking a million photos of things that catch my eye—colors, shapes, flowers, architectural details. I can’t get enough. My forever muses are Mom Nature and Yoko Ono; both confident, creative forces of magic.
BC: Why is shopping women-owned important to you?
KT: Oh my gosh, I could go on for years about this, both on a personal and geopolitical level. Nerd. Before I started doing creative work, I actually got my MA in Policy and worked as a researcher and program manager in the nonprofit sector for a decade. One of the things numbers tend to tell you in social policy research is that in societies where women prosper, everyone tends to prosper.
"One of the things numbers tend to tell you in social policy research is that in societies where women prosper, everyone tends to prosper."
I’ve been really inspired lately by Jennifer Armbrust’s work, her organization Sister, and her book “Proposals for The Feminine Economy,” which argues for a total reimagining of our economy based on feminist principles. I think if we want to see change in the world, voting with our dollars is a huge part of it—and investing money in women directly is a really important tool in shifting power dynamics.
BC: What are you currently binge-watching?
KT: One of the best/worst things about making jewelry is how many shows and podcasts I consume while I’m alone and playing with clay. I currently can’t get enough of the “McMillions” series on Amazon Prime. Also, just “Fleabag” over and over, all the time. I’ve watched the entire series three times already; I need Phoebe Waller-Bridge to be my friend. And more of a listen than a watch, but the “Dolly Parton’s America” podcast is MAGIC.