Interview with Kristi and Alex
Shop local, shop handmade
Buy online at GothicMtnJewelers.Etsy.com
By Liz Simpson
In my heart of hearts, I’m a hermit. I fantasize about running away to Alaska to live in a one-room cabin in the core of the wilderness. While reality hasn’t yet facilitated this dream for me, it has for Alex and Kristi, the inspirational minds behind Gothic Mountain Jewelers. Four years ago, the couple moved from New York to Boulder. Before long, the daily grind drove them deep into the mountains to serve as caretakers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, Colorado. In winter, they work for the lab in the morning and make jewelry in the afternoon. In summer, they move to Gunnison to make more jewelry as they continue their idyllic Colorado life. Obviously, I’m jealous.
When we sat down with Alex and Kristi at Crested Butte’s Pitas in Paradise, I really had no idea what to expect. Certainly, I didn’t expect their success story to center on YouTube, Instagram, and Etsy. Alex and Kristi grew up with a passion for the outdoors. Since they both chose outdoor-related studies in college, it seems inevitable that they ended up in Colorado. They didn’t, however, grow up making jewelry. They didn’t study fine arts or work under a craftsman. They applied to work at a remote lab for eight months at time because these mountains were calling to them—and those long winters with few neighbors and limited entertainment led them to seek new ways to make money while being creative. Like anyone who wants to learn a new skill, the couple turned to YouTube.
Kristi invested in handtools and then they got to work. Right from the beginning, their work was beautiful and, with wise use of Instagram and Etsy, it was soon selling. The jewelry is the definition of handmade: everything is hand stamped, filed, cut, and polished. Their inspiration comes from the stones themselves, so every piece is uniquely designed. Customers can find made to order silver pieces (like the popular Mountain Range Ring and other stackables) or can pick their stone and work with the jewelers for a custom piece, whether earrings, a ring, a cuff, or a necklace. Turquoise and silver are their primary mediums, but the couple is expanding their use of other stones.
When they’re not forging stunning wearable art, Alex and Kristi make the most of their location and free time. In the winter, the couple backcountry skis every morning—taking advantage of massive snowfall to make fresh tracks daily. Snodgrass Mountain is their regular haunt and where they earn every turn on their skins. Once a week they ski into town to mail orders and to pick up supplies to support their other pastime: cooking delicious food. They’ve perfected chicken tikka masala with homemade naan as well as pizza, pies, and even homemade doughnuts and empanadas. When they’re in town, the team makes a point to visit Sherpa Cafe and snag some of the local rum.
It’s pretty hard to decide what I love the most about Alex and Kristi’s story. I love their commitment to the mountains and an organization dedicated to studying and protecting this special habitat. I love their extreme immersion in alpine life and acceptance of its challenges (a four-mile ski in to get groceries!). I love their self-taught passion and creativity, and I LOVE their jewelry. If I had to pick, I’d say that I most value their willingness to live an adventure—pursuing the things they love in a place they love—outside of society’s “normal.”