Q & A | Makers Fossil & Hide

Karen Horn Smith

Karen Horn Smith by Ashley White

Brass, silver, and rock ‘n’ roll — that’s what molds this two-person metalsmith team together. Jenny Watts and Karen Horn Smith are the dynamic duo behind the incredibly rad Candler Park-based accessories line and studio, Fossil & Hide. Watts started making jewelry 15 years go by taking apart old necklaces and putting them back together on fishing line. “When you’re a poor college student who can’t afford new jewelry, this is your solution,” Watts says. Smith came to her about five years ago wanting to be a part of the endeavor — and the rest is history.

Not only do these gals create accessories that make people feel electrified and confident, a ton of their clients are musicians who rock their wares onstage. (During the first couple of years in business together, Fossil & Hide would give their favorite bands and musicians pieces to wear.)

Here, CommonCreativ talks to Jenny about giving people personal confidence and empowerment – whether it’s for a job interview, first date, or just the need to make someone feel like the total babe they are.

CC: How did you start making jewelry, and how long ago did you start?

In May of 2012, Karen and I came up with a collection of jewelry that we both had a blast making together. We had our first super successful trunk show out of a homemade teepee in Karen’s backyard. We hit the ground running after that. A couple years after our first sale, we started our evolution into metalsmithing. Learning metalsmithing has been such an incredibly difficult yet gratifying skill for us both. We love it more than anything. It has launched us to where we are now.

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By Ashley White

CC: Your jewelry is so unique and beautiful. What inspires your designs?

Geometry is obviously a big inspiration. We love simple and universally symbolic shapes. Native American, Mexican and Egyptian jewelry are all huge sources of inspiration as well.

CC: What are some of your favorite jewelry pieces to make? 

I sometimes tend to go on a jewelry tangent and create super “artsy” and weird jewelry. Doing this brainstorming of sorts helps me to get into jewelry designing mode so that I can come up with more cohesive, wearable pieces. Karen is our master cuff designer. We started calling her cuffs “power cuffs” because they look like something a badass superhero would wear.

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By Ashley White

CC: What are you favorite materials to work with?

Brass is what we work with the most, but silver is our No. 1 love. Turquoise never gets old, but we adore stones of all kinds. We’re constantly looking for new ones, researching the elements, meanings, and healing powers of each and every one we use.  

CC: What inspires you?

Karen and I have known each other for over 10 years now, and the magnetism started happening out of the interest in each other’s jewelry. We would complement one another constantly on what we were wearing. That’s how our friendship formed. After that, I think it really took off because we’re both huge music fanatics. Back in the day, and now, you usually won’t see one of us at a show without the other. Music is a huge, huge, huge inspiration. We have a great page on our website featuring musicians wearing Fossil & Hide. It’s pretty awesome.

Jenny Watts and Karen Horn Smith

Jenny Watts and Karen Horn Smith by Ashley White

CC: Where can locals find your stuff?

We are in a handful of places around town including Kudzu Antiques, Clothing Warehouse in Little 5 Points, Citizen Supply at Ponce City Market, Coco + Misha in Decatur, and Live Free Tattoo in Grant Park.

Jenny Watts

Jenny Watts by Ashley White

CC: How do you promote yourself locally, nationally and beyond?

One of our biggest challenges is promoting our brand in an abroad sort of way. We have many loyal fans because of Instagram, mainly, which has been a fantastic growth tool for us. Other than that, word of mouth has been Fossil & Hide’s most reliable and organic source of promotion. We have created, with our own four hands, thousands of pieces of jewelry in the past four years. On a daily basis, our fans — both ladies and gents — will tell us how many compliments they get when they wear Fossil & Hide. That’s a lot of exposure!   

CC: What is it about jewelry-making that you find most fulfilling?

Knowing that someone is going to feel electrified and powerful wearing something we created is pretty motivating. It’s super fulfilling for us to hear fans on a daily basis tell us how a necklace helped them feel confident at a job interview, a ring of ours helped them get through a grad school interview or one of our bold cuffs helped their nerves on a first date. Knowing that our jewelry is not only making a fashion statement but helping so many with personal confidence and empowerment gives us an amazing sense of fulfillment, which keeps us going.  

CC: What are some of your favorite Atlanta spots?

Some of our regular spots are Kimball House, The Earl, Argosy, Gaja, Aurora Coffee, Candler Park Market and Elmyr. Our music and food scenes have always been pretty dope — very thankful for that.

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By Ashley White

CC: What do you think of Atlanta’s creative scene right now?

We have so many talented friends in Atlanta doing things and going places. There’s always room for improvement and with Atlanta growing at lightning speed, so will the creative scene. I would definitely like to see more museums and independent retailers/collectives out of that growth. As for projects and art collectives, a special shout-out to Mindzai Creative, Deer Bear Wolf, Mammal Gallery, Hi-Lo Press, Living Walls, the High Museum of Art and, of course, CommonCreativ!

Pick up some Fossil & Hide jewelry in shops around town or on their site.
All photos by Ashley White Photos.

About Kimberly Richardson

Kimberly is an international digital producer for a news station in Atlanta. When she’s not covering untold stories around and inside the city, she can either be found curled up reading a book while drinking a good cup of coffee with her cat, The Dude, or jet setting to unexplored locations.

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