I was recently lucky enough to meet a fellow jeweler I admire, whose work I’ve been following for some time now. Christine Fail is a local Austinite always on the forefront of style and business sense. She also happens to be the owner and designer of wildly popular Fail Jewelry and new Fail Collective.
After receiving her BFA in painting, printmaking and metalsmithing, Christine began working for a few 18k gold, internationally renowned jewelry designers. It was during this time that she realized making jewelry was a great opportunity for her to be creative while still making a living. During the 2008 economic downturn, with 5 years of experience selling to the country’s top retailers, Christine was let go. She always says that it was a blessing in disguise. At that point, she began paving the way for her company, Fail Jewelry. She wanted to create the same high quality, handmade jewelry that she had been making, but for the everyday woman - not just the elite.
Christine in Fail Collective on E. Cesar Chavez
Fast forward through countless open air markets, a small retail space on South 1st Street and countless wholesale shows, Christine Fail has created a movement: Simple, elegant, well-crafted jewelry at a very approachable price point. She recently opened up her new Fail flagship boutique and studio collective on Cesar Chavez, right in the heart of east Austin. It is a beautiful culmination of quality handmade jewelry and home goods.
I stopped in to Fail Collective, and after literally drooling over all the products and getting weak in the knees, went on to have a great conversation with Christine. I later walked out with some Crave body scrub from The Good Hippie, and boy, that stuff is divine!
Fail Collective, E. Cesar Chavez
I’m sharing a snippet of our discussion below, as I found her insight to be so honest, humble and authentic - much like how I feel Austin is, as a place to call home.
Claire Sommers Buck: What is your most unexpected source of inspiration?
Christine Fail: Process. Letting the unexpected outcome of a situation influence the design. The materials I am working with most often tell me what to do.
CSB: How do you want others to feel when interacting with your work?
CSB: List 3 things you can’t live without in your studio.
CF: Hammer, anvil and pliers. I can pretty much make every piece in my collections with those three things!
CSB: Who is your style icon, your muse?
CF: This may sound weird, but I consider myself my own muse especially when it comes to my work. I am always designing pieces that I personally want to wear and in that sense I am creating my own style. If I had to choose a muse for my future self, I would pick Georgia Okeefe. I want to be that old funky artist woman with a high gray haired bun wearing flowy tent shirts with a stack of bangles up my arm.
CSB: What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in doing what you do?
CF: Hiring and managing people. My training process is quite rigorous and therefore having someone I’ve trained leave after 6 months is really tough. I’ve learned to be very clear about the job positions I am hiring for and seek out those who fully understand what their role will be in my business. This has led me to hire more non-artist types, in fact. Those that I can train to do the creative work, but that aren’t expecting to be challenged creatively day in and day out.
CSB: What are the most valuable lesson(s) you’ve learned working for yourself?
CF: Do one thing and do it well. Don’t try and do five things and do them OK because your business will most definitely reflect that.
Extending a big Thank You to Christine Fail for her time and insight. We hope you can stop by her flagship store Fail Collective soon to check out her lovely offering of jewelry and home goods!
The featured makers in Fail Collective are:
The Good Hippie, beauty care products
Noah Marion Quality Goods, leather goods
Leah Duncan, stationery & textiles
Zoe Cummings, ceramic jewelry
Era Ceramics, simple, everyday functional ceramics
Happy handmade shopping! xo