Madison Hampton has accepted that she is a "woman of extremes." In college she changed majors from furniture design to metalsmithing. Shortly after graduation, she started a jewelry studio in her van with little furniture to speak of. Today Vancrafted Studio is based in Bozeman, Montana. Read on as Madison shares her journey, from creating a best-selling collection in the back of a truck to offering online jewelry classes.
By chance, I took an elective ‘Jewelry Making 101’ class in college and immediately switched my major from Furniture Design to Metalsmithing. There I learned to blacksmith, solder and so much more. I had the fundamentals of jewelry making down but wasn’t yet sure how to turn it into something viable. Little did I know that would come soon enough.
The answer to this is constantly changing. Whenever I come up with a brand new design that usually holds court in my heart for a few weeks until I dream up the next one. My current favorite piece is our Rainbow Earrings. All of the stones we use are one of a kind, so each pair is absolutely unique which I love!
Vancrafted Studio began at a very pivotal time in my life. It was 2014, I was 22, had just graduated from college and planned to move into my van with my boyfriend and dog to travel the USA. The only thing was—I wasn’t willing to leave metalsmithing behind. As you know, to metalsmith, you need things like running water, electricity and some storage space. I didn’t have any of those things. So, per my general attitude of determination, I found a way to make it work on the road. With that, Vancrafted Studio was born!
The two biggest changes that our brand, Vancrafted Studio has experienced have been deciding to “settle down” and move out of a vehicle, and to hire a very special someone.
A little over a year ago Gage and I decided to change up a few things about our lifestyle. We had been traveling for years and always kept places we loved in mind for possible forever home locations. We landed on beautiful Bozeman, Montana as the place we’d like to call home. We returned, rented a house, and now Vancrafted Studio is based there. We didn’t feel the need to change the name of the business as the origin story of Vancrafted shaped it into what it still is today.
Around this same time Gage and I decided to trade our 10-years-and-counting titles of “boyfriend + girlfriend” for husband + wife. We also added another important title to our long list of partnerships: BUSINESS PARTNERS! I was in a place where it seemed that I couldn’t make enough jewelry to keep up with demand. Gage would come home from his job with the Parks Department and clock in to help me with VC. Eventually we realized that maybe his time was actually better spent working 100% on Vancrafted. We met with my bookkeeper, obsessed over numbers, played devil's advocate, and the answer always came back the same. Gage quit his secure job the day of that meeting, and we haven’t looked back.
I actually have a very clear, defined moment of when I made the switch to feeling comfortable describing my business as successful, and it’s quite scenic actually. It was 2018. Gage and I had since sold our beloved van and downsized into living in our Toyota Tacoma. We were parked right outside of Grand Teton National Park, with a beautiful view of the mountains from “home” for the night. I had been working on a collection of jewelry for months that I named "The Mountain Made Collection" in honor of where it was all created, on the bed of my truck. I put so much energy, time and soul into this collection, and had been building up excitement for weeks on social media. As planned, my collection of about 50 pieces went live on my website at 6:00 pm Mountain Time on the dot. About three minutes in the chaos began, I was met with order after order. From the most beautiful spot in the world I sat and watched the entire Mountain Made Collection completely sell out. That was the moment that I decided to claim success, and I will cherish that moment forever!
The one question that I’ve asked myself from the very beginning is, “What sets you apart from the rest?” I have made it a point to continually clearly identify this distinguishing factor about Vancrafted Studio, which in my case is my story, and use it to my advantage throughout the years. This is the best advice I have for anyone who is trying to run a successful jewelry business. Make sure you can easily answer that question, because if you can’t, no one else can either.
As I’m sure many of you can relate, hands down the answer to this is my flex shaft! One way that I adapted to not being able to have it on the road was by finding and buying from Rio the Foredom Portable Micromotor. It’s basically a portable flex shaft with a little less power. It was such a lifesaver when I was living and creating jewelry on the road!
Being part of the RioPro program has been instrumental in the flow of my business, not to mention those discounts are amazing! We call into the dedicated RioPro line *at least* once a week. It’s such an asset to have the resource like a tech available to help guide you. Thank you Rio :)
Time management! I am a woman of extremes. There are times when I can’t get out of the studio until 1:00am because I just can’t bear to put my work down. Then there’s times when fly fishing, hiking and snowboarding fully take over. For some reason I can’t find a happy medium. But that’s ok! I’ve learned that about myself and finally just accepted it.
In the wake of the global pandemic, we have begun a very new and unexpected venture. In efforts to create a healthy outlet for people as they shelter in place, we have become online educators. Gage and I produced an online metalsmithing class where I instruct my students on how to make a basic silver and turquoise ring, from start to finish. We currently have a little over 300 students and counting. The success I’ve seen in my students has only encouraged me to continue with this work. Our next class will debut in August and it will cover how to create handmade earring wires.