We had the good fortune of connecting with Amelia Deren Steppacher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amelia, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Growing up I loved activities that were artistic and involved crafting and cooking. In high school my best friend and I started a chocolate covered fruit business, catering to weddings and special events. After college I attended law school in Boston, practiced for a few years, but that nagging feeling and calling for more creativity took over and eventually I quit law and founded Amelia Rose in 2007. My career 180 definitely caught friends and family by surprise, but in my heart I knew I had to follow my passion. This major switch pre-dated my babies and the deal I made with myself was to give it a try for a few years and if not profitable, pivot back to law. To this day I keep my law license active in Massachusetts, but I’m beyond grateful my risk of starting a small business designing jewelry has worked out quite well!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Amelia Rose Jewelry is colorful, unique in design and manufactured to the highest standards. Our jewelry is designed to bring smiles, to arrange colors and textures in aesthetic harmony and to create designs that can be worn and enjoyed for years to come. Professionally to get the business to where it is today was very challenging. Unlike learning to be an attorney where I had resources at my fingertips and experts to guide me, learning jewelry manufacturing and design was much more challenging. That said, I approached jewelry design similarly to how I approached law and read as much as possible, educated myself as much as possible and sought experts and teachers at every opportunity. Not only did I have to learn the art of design, but I also had to self-educate on small business and entrepreneurship. A lot of trial and error and a lot of time, but it certainly has paid off.
Getting started in building a business from scratch took perseverance and an optimistic attitude. I learned to celebrate the small successes, not just the big ones. The beginnings of Amelia Rose were humbling for sure, I literally hit the pavement and went door to door asking stores to carry my work on consignment. Starting a website and then learning the new world of social media, while constantly churning out new designs and networking as much as possible.
To avoid burnout and feeling lonely running a business solo, I sought out as many other small business owners and entrepreneurs as possible. Even if we were in different industries there is so much overlap in the skills and mindset needed to become successful that I found a lot of common ground and mutual support.
Fourteen years later and I truly have no regrets with my career choice. I feel grateful daily that I listened to my heart and followed my true passion. I never thought making jewelry as a study break activity, while studying for the bar exam, would eventually lead to a fulltime career; that said I definitely hoped it would and without having taken that big leap and just gone for it I never would have known!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Home sweet home is Hopkinton, Massachusetts, known as being the start of the Boston Marathon and a rural former farming community. Over the years Hopkinton has exploded in population due to the top school system, safe community and proximity to Boston. What we love here is the connection to nature, warm and caring neighborly feel and abundance of recreation. We also love how close to Cape Cod we are and spend most weekends in Chatham where I bought a beach house a few years ago after spending many childhood summers there. If my best friend were visiting and I wanted to show them a memorable time I would pack in as many of our favorite activities as possible. Starting in Hopkinton, we would do some hiking on the gorgeous town trails, dine outside at Central Public House, and then hang out at home by the pool with our chickens! A few years ago we decided to dabble in chicken rearing/organic eggs, a popular hobby here, and what started with two hens has grown into two coops and twenty chickens. Our next stop would be Chatham and the beach! Stops in town would include bike riding on the Cape Cod rail trail, afternoon cocktails on the Veranda at Chatham Bars Inn, walking to Ridgevale Beach and soaking in the gorgeous coastal scenery.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When I founded Amelia Rose, most who knew me thought I was a bit crazy to leave law and start a small business with no formal training or knowledge in the area of jewelry design and manufacturing. That said, those closest to me understood this calling and believed in me, even when I had doubts myself. My older brother, Jon Deren, is the co-owner of Camp Manitou in Waterville, ME. A Tufts graduate and math major, Jon had his pivot moment at age 21 and decided he would jointly buy the beloved summer camp he spent much of his youth at. This turned out to be a wise decision that over two decades later has been widely successful and rewarding. Jon is and has always been a big inspiration to me. My mom and stepfather, respectively an internist/hematologist and former child psychiatrist, were also supportive; surprised, but supportive. Despite their conservative and secure careers and presuming their daughter would follow suit, they understood my need to pursue this calling and ultimately they gave me their blessing. Then In 2011 I met Tory Johnson of Good Morning America and everything changed. Tory champions small businesses and gives them platforms on national television that literally can catapult the trajectory of a company overnight, and that is exactly what I experienced. Millions of viewers tuned in to Tory’s insanely popular segment on GMA and before I knew what was going on we had thousands of online orders and thousands of new customers!