Matchboxes, compact mirrors, pocket watches, old costume jewelry and vintage pins make up Brooke Griffith’s jewelry line, Glen and Effie.
The junior art education major has formal art training, but she also has an aptitude for creating unusual art, both of which make a combination that she takes to another level with her interest in fashion.
“I’ve always thought in shapes and colors and forms. It just makes sense to me; it’s just how my mind operates,” Griffith said. “Every piece, every pin, every rhinestone is a puzzle, and they all have to fit together in some way in some design that complement each other and that is definitely reflected in my art.”
It’s art that means a lot because the lives of Glen and Effie, the couple who gave the line their name, mean a lot to Griffith.
She grew up in Knoxville going to flea markets, yard sales and auction houses and collected vintage pieces along the way.
Last summer Griffith decided to put her collection to good use; she created Glen and Effie — her own jewelry line that she named for her beloved grandparents.
Glen was a WWII sergeant, farmer, sportsman, husband, father and grandfather. Effie was a gardener, cook, wife, mother and grandmother. Griffith spent a lot of time with her grandparents at their farm.
“I always decided that if I would ever start a business, I would name it after them,” Griffith said, “They always worked very hard, and I always wanted to honor them in that way.”
Effie, who died in January, always thought it was funny to have something named after her. But after her grandmother’s death, Griffiths had an even stronger desire to pursue the jewelry venture that she had begun in earnest last summer.
“Everything I make is one of a kind, and once it’s sold there will never be another like it,” Griffith said.
That kind of original work demands careful attention.
Depending on the item she’s working on, Griffith will spend about an hour laying out the pieces and arranging them to find the perfect fit. She always has a project going and will work on anywhere from 15 to 20 pieces at a time.
She bases price on how much time she spends on each piece as well as the age of the vintage pieces, collector’s value, whether it is gold or silver and how distinctive they are.
Griffith’s first official sale was made through her boutique on Etsy, a website for buying and selling handmade or vintage items. She now has part of her line for sale at Hampden Clothing in Charleston, S.C., as well as The Copper Fox in Franklin, Tenn.
She said her parents have been immensely supportive, and it was her mom, an interior designer, who stopped by the shop in Charleston and found the kind of boutique that was right for Glen and Effie.
But Griffith won’t just sell her line anywhere. Each gallery and store must be just as unusual as the line itself. That same uniqueness is why the line is selling.
“It’s satisfying but at the same time it’s still a little shocking,” she said about the interest that her work has generated.
There’s more in store for the summer including trunk shows and a booth at the farmers market in Knoxville. She’s adding to her collection of raw material since Griffith, a flea market savant, has developed relationships with vendors in Nashville. They set aside pieces they know she’ll be interested in.
“I still love art, art will always be my first passion,” she said. “I always had an eye for accessories and trinkets and odds and ends that are different and unique that somehow make sense when you express yourself in fashion.”
Once out of school and without time restrictions, Griffith hopes to see how far she can take this. Her goal is to have her own store one day.
Its name–Glen and Effie, of course.