Photography by Ryan Leggett
Image Above: From left to right, jewelers Sharon Zimmerman, Corey Egan and Christy Natsumi in their shared studio. Sharon and Corey originally teamed up with another partner to create the downtown studio in 2014. When that partner moved out, they reached out to San Francisco’s tight-knit jewelry community, and as they hoped, Christy expressed an interest in joining them. As to working in the same space, Corey says, “We realize we have more to gain by sharing resources than we do by working in secret.”
I recently caught up with one of my close friends from architecture school. We reminisced how our school years were simultaneously the most challenging years of our lives and the most fun. We reflected on how our collective studio environment was both intensely competitive (cut-throat even) and collaborative. We were all fiercely committed to our studies, to bettering ourselves and presenting work of which we could be proud, but we were also nearly dependent on each other for encouragement and constructive feedback. In talking with my friend, I realized how much I still seek that balance of collaboration and competition in my professional world and how difficult it is to find.
Jewelers Sharon Zimmerman, Corey Egan and Christy Natsumi are three independent business owners who have managed to strike that balance. Each woman has her own brand, but they share a San Francisco studio and showroom. As Christy explains, “In an industry that is traditionally secretive and competitive (not to mention male-dominated), we’ve found a way to work together as torch-and-hammer-wielding metalsmith businesswomen. In fact, we spend so much time at the studio together that we’ve started calling each other ‘studio-wives.’ We hope our way of working can be inspiring and helpful to [the Design*Sponge community].” Below, Sharon, Corey and Christy share their tips on collaboration and creative work, as well as glimpses of their stunning, sustainable jewelry designs. —Quelcy
What is your favorite aspect of your workspace?
Sharon Zimmerman (above): “The light! Working inside all day without a break can be rough, but we get lots of direct sunlight in the jewelry production room, which makes the long days go by easier. And someone is always bringing in snacks.”