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While working in tech, Karina Harris picked up jewelry-making as a creative outlet. Now a successful designer, she produces trendy yet refined pieces under the label Waffles & Honey. We spoke with Karina about her company, her process, and her surprising beekeeping heritage. Join us for our annual Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young to meet Karina and shop her newest collection.

This is your first year showing at the de Young's Holiday Artisan Fair. What are you most excited to introduce to de Young guests?

I am most excited to be showing our new holiday collection which showcases some stunning layered designs as well as gift-ready holiday pieces. My team and I handcraft our pieces in the Mission District in San Francisco, and it is always such a joy to be able to share my work in San Francisco.

We’re curious - where does your company’s name come from?

Waffles & Honey is named after my childhood pets - Waffles the Cat and Honey Bunny the Corgi. Growing up in a family of beekeepers, there was always an underlying theme relating back to beekeeping - my company namesake is still a reflection of that.

How did you learn to make jewelry?

I am completely self-taught. I started learning how to make jewelry while I was working in tech. To feed a creative outlet, I began teaching myself how to solder by watching YouTube videos. As my curiosity strengthened, so did my skill-set.

When it comes to designing, what’s your process like? Do you have any essential tools you use?

I am a very visual person and design best when I have the physical components of the pieces in front of me. I love laying out all of the stones and chain to play around with and get my creative juices flowing. I also keep a design board in my office that I pin prototype pieces to so that I can see everything laid out. I don’t make any edits to the collection until all of my prototype ideas are on the board.

This “brainstorming process” is how I begin a collection every season. It is total madness on my workbench during this time - but having all of the materials at my fingertips really helps me to design without feeling the pressure of having to create something perfect - that is where the real magic happens.

What artists or styles currently interest you?

Lately I have been inspired by Art Deco jewelry and architecture. I love the design aesthetic of my current jewelry mentor, Tracy Matthews.

Since this is gift-giving season after all, what’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Do you have any tips for giving a gift to a special someone?

The best gift I ever received was a Dogeared Necklace from my little brother. He had just gotten his first job wrapping gifts at a mall during the holidays and he used the money he earned to buy me that gift. I will never forget how much the gesture meant to me and how proud he was to be able to buy his own gift for me. 

Thanks so much - we can't wait to have you at the Holiday Artisan Fair!

My pleasure, I look forward to being there.