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  • March 11, 2024 7 min read

    Treasures and Time With Elizabeth Graham and Her Jewelry Company, Talismania

    Elizabeth Graham, owner of ethereal, ethically sourced jewelry company Talismania, knows that certain treasures become so special in our lives, they serve as talismans, connecting us with magic and meaning. While Graham only recently started the company from her current home in Red Lodge, MT, she’s always had an affinity for special items, events and experiences, and her company is taking off, even being featured in the likes of Condé Nast Traveler (UK).

                Her eye for style was always unique as a child, though not always her main focus: The one-time NYC resident worked in finance as an operations manager before transitioning to the tech industry as a technical project manager, gaining experience at several companies, including Peloton. She still holds a position as head of enterprise data at telecom tech company, Nextiva. But now, she’s able to express her innate creativity through her statement piece company that focuses on showstoppers that can stand alone or stacked with other personal pieces. Below, she shares her how she jumped into the jewelry design field, her other artistic pursuits (DJ’ing included!) and how she built her brand.

                           
    SBS: How did the idea for Talismania first come about, and what does the name mean?

    Elizabeth Graham: The concept for Talismania sprouted from an unexpected place. Admittedly, I wasn’t much into jewelry. I was more of a simple accessorize-er. I had begun to learn the jewelry trade at the urging of a friend and mentor, who saw me reaching for a creative outlet and had seen my aesthetic through various interactions, most notably the design finishings of my home. He is a jewelry industry veteran and had a lot to offer in the way of mentorship, so I took the urging as a huge compliment.

    I was having trouble seeing how all the pieces fit together to make it really feel like mine. But a particular breathwork session flipped the script for me. In the session, a vivid vision and a beautiful, aligned mission just clicked. I saw golden threads connecting all of life’s beautiful moments. It made perfect sense, and I decided to take the leap. That’s when Talismania came to life. The name pays homage to talismanic jewelry, but it’s more than that. It embodies the feeling of a journey, a daily practice of seeking those meaningful charms woven into life’s adventures. Turns out, I love playing with shiny objects: I am a Taurus!

     

    SBS: What was your first foray into jewelry making?

    EG: My first foray into this type of art was stone cutting. My friend David, who suggested I try out jewelry design, connected me with his (and now my) friend, Don, who is a geologist and master stonecutter. Don was kind enough to share his time with me and teach me how to cut. I loved the slow, meticulous process of faceting a gemstone. I cut a 5-carat padparadscha garnet. I am still waiting for the perfect inspiration of how to set it.

     

    SBS: What types of products does Talismania offer now?

    EG: Talismania produces both fine and fashion jewelry using only natural, ethically sourced materials. Our fashion pieces are sterling silver and vermeil (18 karat gold-plated sterling silver) and use natural white sapphire and varietal center stones like blue topaz. My fine collection is centered upon Montana sapphires and their wide array of earthy hues, pairing them with high quality diamond melee and solid gold settings. 

     

    SBS: What is your mission with Talismania? What is the aesthetic and vibe?

    EG: At the heart of Talismania lies a mission to transcend the ordinary and infuse life’s moments with meaning. My aim is to craft more than just jewelry; it’s about creating tangible expressions of personal narratives and connections. Every piece is designed with the intention to become a cherished talisman—a silent storyteller that accompanies you on your journey.

    As for the aesthetic and vibe, I'd describe it as ethereal: a harmonious fusion of luxury and earthiness. Every piece is designed to feel like a hidden treasure from the inner realms, worn as a personal secret in the physical world—something rare, mysterious, and earned.

     

    SBS: What makes your brand unique?

    EG: A lot of the jewelry brands that are very popular today are focused heavily on minimalistic, stackable design. In contrast, my pieces are intended as statement pieces. Worn either within a stack or on their own, they’re crafted to steal the spotlight. I include a lot of stones in my designs and focus on telling stories with color and form, creating talismanic symbols for the wearer to adorn themselves with as a treasure from their journey.

     

    SBS: What practical steps did you take to make your idea become reality? Were there any tools that were particularly helpful?

    EG: My journey began with learning to cut stones and cast metal. I also took a course in drawing, studied materials, and practiced creating designs and having them made into pieces to build the skill of conveying ideas onto paper to generate successful designs. In parallel, I did a lot of research on E-commerce and all its components, learned to set up and administer a Shopify store, and delved into brand-building and digital marketing books. I also consumed numerous audio books on starting up a business as a creative, business budgeting, and operating lean. It has been a huge period of learning. To balance it all out, I have made sure to maintain my positive habits like running and meditating.

     

    SBS: What happy surprises and challenges occurred along the way?

    EG: One of the most surreal moments on this journey was the unexpected thrill of seeing my image grace the print and digital publications of Condé Nast Traveler (UK). To my astonishment, they not only featured me in their gift-guide list but also bestowed the honor of the cover image for digital. Being a model in a major global publication was certainly not part of the anticipated adventure. This ‘pinch-me’ moment has not only fueled a sense of accomplishment but has also broadened my perspective to the endless possibilities that Talismania may unfold in the future.

     

    SBS: How did you form your team? What was exciting and/or challenging about that?

    EG: The team is just me and, part-time, my good friend and photographer, Lex Kilgour. She worked with me on an epic branding photoshoot and has continued to be a trusted advisor and tireless compatriot in picking and editing images for publication. She’s been an essential part of my journey, and I can’t imagine doing this whole thing without her. We are already planning our next shoot for the coming Spring.

    While my core team is quite scrappy, I've established a fantastic network, including stone purveyors, miners, cutters, fabricators, chain specialists, packaging manufacturers, and more. I’ve been able to do so with the help of my mentor in the industry, a good friend of mine named David Cruz, owner of Red Lodge Jewelers. 

     

    SBS: What's your own health and wellness routine?

    EG: I prioritize a holistic approach to health and wellness, blending physical activities with mindful practices. My absolute favorites include hiking and trail running with my dogs, activities that not only keep me active but also connect me with nature. Skiing, including uphill skiing later in the season, adds a touch of adventure to my routine. For more routine exercises, I enjoy running and lifting weights. Beyond physical fitness, I incorporate breathwork and meditation into my regular practice, creating moments of calm amidst the bustling routine. To unwind, I indulge in hot salt baths, a luxurious retreat for both body and mind.

    While I don't meticulously track my overall diet, I keep an eye on my protein and fiber intake to ensure a balanced nutrition. Mindful eating is a cornerstone of my routine, taking breaks from the desk for breakfast and lunch, and relishing the unhurried process of making dinner by myself in the evenings.

    Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is crucial, and I use my Garmin watch to monitor sleep and HRV, although I consciously avoid fixating too much on the numbers. Most importantly, I embrace the natural cycles of life—finding comfort in routine when it feels right and allowing flexibility when needed, ensuring I give myself the rest and relaxation required for overall well-being.

     

    The best, zaniest part of being Elizabeth: I love chasing silly ideas as far as I can take them: the more ridiculous, the better. To celebrate my 30th birthday, I hosted a Prince-themed party, recreating some of his most iconic fashion moments, with the goal of feeling that Prince himself would have been impressed. On a separate occasion, I produced a micro-festival at a guest ranch in Montana inclusive of eccentric cowboy looks, horseback trail riding, visits with pigs and yaks, catered Montana-style BBQ, and lots and lots of dancing. My latest musing is a project called ‘The Pirate’s Booty.’ But I can’t ruin my big reveal, so you’ll need to stay tuned. I think this immersive outlook tied in really well with my branding shoot for Talismania in Montana. The colors, costumes, storyline, and even a playlist were all curated beforehand to convey the coherent, wonderous imagery I was aiming for. 

     

    Elizabeth’s SBS Mantra: Be Fearless resonates deeply with me. I affectionately refer to the process of working through fear as ‘throwing myself off the cliff.’ Each time I embrace it, I find that all the peak moments in life are indeed on the other side of fear. Early in my career it was things like public speaking and volunteering for leadership roles. These days it could be anything: signing up for a trail ultra race, DJing a party, saying yes to an advertorial in Condé Nast despite my brand still being quite scrappy, and I think, most importantly, leading with my heart and values in all my endeavors. Sometimes the outcomes and consequences are unexpected, but it’s all learning and all an opportunity to get closer to true alignment.

     

    Elizabeth’s Montana Faves:

    Healthy Restaurant: Red Lodge is a very small town. We don’t have many restaurants, so we don’t eat out or pick up often. So, I’ll say my kitchen, especially in the summer when the CSA is in full swing with local, organic veggies!
    Splurge Restaurant: The One Legged Magpie
    Nightlife Spot: Also the One Legged Magpie: They host live music, and they let us DJ there sometimes.
    Fitness Studio: My home gym. We have a pretty legit set-up with a bar rack, full set of dumbbells, floor area, and a few Peloton machines from my days as an employee.
    Fun Activity: Skiing or trail-running
    Calming Activity: Hiking or breathwork
    Books: I like anything by Kurt Vonnegut or F. Scott Fitzgerald for amusing stories, and for my spiritual adventures, The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
    Online Resources: @marie.bodine and her web portal, Inner Peace Portal; @luludesignsjewelry

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