Discover Your Life's Gems
Brie Holst | Liberty, MO | Startup
One crafter’s refuse is Brie Holst’s inspiration. She rescues and upcycles fabrics, paper, vintage sheets, curtains and other textiles to make fashionable home décor items, like fabric pins, bunting, glamour pumpkins, and more.
We asked her to share her stories, her challenges and why it’s so important to not just hashtag #ShopLocalKC, but actually direct your feet and your dollars into local shops.
What’s your origin story?
I started Life’s Gems as strictly a wedding veil and accessories company, named Vintage Wedding Gems. I used vintage materials and family heirlooms to design my pieces.
Over time, I realized I had so many other products that I enjoyed making that I should market as well. I had requests from friends and family for items that I had made as gifts and was repeatedly told that I should offer these to others.
So Life’s Gems was born.
My focus now is products for life and home, with an eco-friendly focus. Sure, I have a hard time turning down a trip to the local fabric store, I love running my hands over the different textures and pairing up unlikely patterns, but I love brainstorming ways to reuse items. I love reusing vintage sheets as fabric, but what about those hideous velvet pants from the 90’s? My mom now has an adorable collection of mini velvet pumpkins in lush purples, browns, and greens. What about that weird framed wall art (pretty much every decade)? A little chalkboard paint over the glass and hand lettering and it is becomes a loving quote or fresh new gift. Hideous sweater? My friend now has some adorable mittens that she loves.
So now while Life’s Gem’s does have a core group of products that I focus on, I don’t limit myself. I make. I create. I paint, I sew, I draw, I glue, I hole punch….and I can’t keep it all.
Who helped you?
Handmade in KC has been my biggest recourse. I have learned an unmeasurable amount and am devoted to helping continue this small community of makers grow. I am helping establish our in-house business development workshops for makers and small business owners, and beginning development of hosting crafty workshops to the public.
What are your favorite Kansas City brands?
Bella Patina and Ugly Glass & Co are both great supporters of local makers and sellers. Lu and Ed is a favorite and Rock and Run, yum! Great people, too.
What do you love about doing business in KC?
I love that the businesses are not afraid to support each other. They are not in competition with each other. Everyone brings something unique to the table and people are not afraid to support each other.
What does shopping local mean to you?
Shopping local to me means frequenting those small shops that we love.
Why is it important?
We all need to do something to keep small business in business. I’m reminded of the Just a Card campaign (“If “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”) It reminds me of when I was a waitress. I would get the “You are a GREAT server! You REALLY care about what you are doing!” but then get a $1 tip on a $40 tab. I couldn’t take that compliment to my bill collectors, and the business owners can’t stay in business on compliments either.
Discover a Gem
Instagram and Twitter: @lifes_gems