In our Featured Shop series, we shine a light on a standout shop from Etsy’s talented seller community, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and story.
Two best friends. A silver anniversary. An acquaintance-turned-soul mate. For generations, Valentine’s Day seemed reserved for people in the throes of starry-eyed passion, but if you ask Katherine Schlattman, owner of the chic jewelry and accessories line Foe & Dear, these days shoppers are honoring love in all its forms—from fairy-tale to platonic to much-needed self-care. “People purchase a variety of our pieces as gifts around this time of year,” says the Vancouver-based designer. “We get a wide mix.”
Whether you’re looking to propose to your partner with a swoon-worthy salt-and-pepper diamond ring or just want to treat your BFF to a set of ’90s-inspired hair clips that you can borrow now and then, Katherine’s eclectic collection offers something for every type of relationship worth celebrating. “Our hope is that people will fall in love with the brand and come back for their fine jewelry gifts and ceremony pieces,” Katherine says.
Read on to discover Katherine’s top picks for Valentine’s Day gifting and her most memorable custom order, then shop the Foe & Dear collection.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
The Foe & Dear aesthetic is minimalist, but refined. It’s essential but timeless, and a little dreamy. We use a lot of alternative materials, which I think makes things feel more personal and customizable.
What are your best-selling gifts for Valentine’s Day?
Our By My Side bands can work as a simple, minimalist wedding band, but our customers can also gift them as a beautiful memento piece, engraved on the inside with something meaningful. Our Stella hair clips and Kennedy heart clips make great, affordable gifts for your girlfriends, and have been blasting off the shelves. The Kennedys are such a cute throwback to the early 2000s butterfly hair clips, now in sophisticated colors of tortoise and pearl. We also just launched packs and bundles for the hair accessories. It would be fun for you and your girlfriends to give a mix-and-match set of clips and barrettes to trade with each other.
What do you think makes your hair clips in particular so popular?
The designs change season to season and they allow our customers to be expressive and have fun. They give folks a good intro to the brand—plus, all our accessories are made with the environment in mind.
What’s it like knowing that your ceremony pieces play such an important role in your customers’ lives?
It’s a huge honor. Our customers have been able to grow with us from day one, and I’ve gone on to make wedding jewelry for some people I know from craft shows back in the day. One couple’s story really stands out in my mind: Someone wanted to customize a Companions engagement ring for their partner. We hand-picked a classic, bright salt-and-pepper diamond, sometimes called a galaxy diamond because it looks like it’s filled with stars. Within a month, the person who received the engagement ring contacted us and said she wanted to make the same one for her partner. We were able to keep the secret and match the rings, which was really special.
Can you tell us more about the materials you use?
Even though we’re a small business, we can have a huge impact on the environment, and so one of the main points of the brand is that all the pieces we make tie into nature. Our fine ceremony jewelry uses recycled or fair-trade gold, and conflict-free and ethically sourced gemstones. We create our hair clips with cellulose acetate, which is made out of wood pulp. That means it’s both biodegradable and recyclable. You can also mix cellulose acetate with fun colors, so we’ve got it in the classic tortoise and pearl, as well as orange and yellow.
Your campaign photography is so stunning. How do you use photos to help elevate your brand?
We work with amazing local photographers who dream up the vision and do all the styling for the shoots. We do street casting, so a lot of our models are regular people wearing the jewelry, which makes it more low-key and fun. Product photos are styled and shot in the studio with natural light, which allows us to showcase the jewelry up close, so you can see each piece shine.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My background is in fashion design, and making jewelry was always just a hobby. Once I graduated, I moved to New York and interned with a Brooklyn-based designer. That was the first time I realized I wanted to pursue jewelry-making as a full-time career. When I moved back to Toronto, I decided to learn more about how to create pieces from scratch. I took classes in jewelry-making, metalsmithing, goldsmithing, and lost wax carving. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
How has Foe & Dear evolved since you began?
Living in New York in the mid-2000s, it was all about a certain vintage look, but I’m happy we’re not stuck to a single vision, because tastes change, and there’s always new things to learn. It’s been slow growth, and learning how to bootstrap it the whole way has been so rewarding. I now have a small team with three other women who work in the studio with me, as well as a goldsmith studio partner for all the fine work. We find that the fine and ceremony jewelry works best as direct-to-consumer, but we launched our wholesale business in Canada and the US almost immediately. We’re always looking to expand.
So, what’s next for Foe & Dear?
We’re focusing more on memento and giftable pieces, and we’re coming out with a little line of fine jewelry featuring chains and charms—a dog charm is in the works! We take our Etsy feedback seriously, so when we get a lot of inquiries for a certain type of gemstone, that gets us thinking. Montana sapphires were a really popular stone request last year, and we decided to add them to the new fine jewelry collection. We’re also working on our spring collection, which features moonstone, the dreamiest gemstone out there.
Photographs by Foe & Dear unless otherwise noted.