September 16, 2011

Meet Our Newest Designer-Kaitlin McKeown!

Greetings Giving Tree...From NYC!
I am so excited to be a part of this weeks debut of a brand new artist to Giving Tree Jewelry, Kaitlin McKeown
The story of how Giving Tree and Kaitlin 'came to be' is a great one, filled with serendipity and great energy. Kaitlin's boyfriend, George ( was helping me build my new website for How To Avoid Being Sad.

I love working with George. He is so talented, and so, you know, just one of those people that make 'style' and 'fashion' seem effortless. One day, George casually mentioned that his girlfriend was the head jeweler at one of my FAVORITE jewelry companies ever, and that she was now ready to launch her own collection. George knew nothing about Giving Tree Jewelry (that's the serendipity part!)
And when I met Kaitlin and saw her work, I knew Giving Tree was the place for her!
We are thrilled to debut Kaitlin's debut collection on our site and in our gallery today.

And last night, Kaitlin and I did the art shows in Chelsea together. I had an instant girl crush! Kaitlin is so beautiful, stylish, funny, alive, erudite... (and she loved the same art I did :))
We had a blast.
Below is a bit of our conversation, and a great way to learn a little bit more about this amazing new talent in the jewelry and fashion world!

With love and excitement,
Rachel Leigh Smith

Talking To Kaitlin McKeown- Brand new designer at

GTJ: How and when did you discover you wanted to be a jewelry designer?
K.M.-I started at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa as a graphic design student and took a Metals class for fun when I realized how much I loved it.
GTJ: Did you study jewelry design?
K.M- Yes. I received my BFA at ISU with an emphasis in metal smithing and received my bench jeweler certification at New Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia.
GTJ: Are you creative in other mediums and fields as well?
K.M- I have been drawing and sculpting since I was young. I am also loving creating my own handbags after an FIT class I took last year. Throughout art school I took several painting and screen-printing classes as well as participated in the Gaffer's Guild, which was ISU's glassblowing club.
GTJ: You worked as a jeweler for a major 'label' .. was this how you learned your craft? What do you most remember/admire from that experience?
K.M- I learned my craft from a collection of experiences, school, and working as a repair jeweler but Ten Thousand Things gave me the kind of knowledge and experience I needed to know how to run a small business. We had a lot of fun at work and it was an awesome atmosphere with great and talented people to work with and for. I wouldn't be doing this today without them.
GTJ: Describe your 'personal style' -dress…etc..
K.M- Tough but cool. Casual with an edge.
GTJ: What kind of music/culture/art do you tend towards?
K.M- The music I listen to has a pretty broad range and it's hard to sum it up quickly. I guess anywhere from Kid Koala to Coachwhips to Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band... and ALWAYS The Rolling Stones! As for culture and art, I spend a lot of Thursdays going to openings in NYC. Basically, I take advantage of all the culture NYC has to offer from the architecture to the art to the parks, beaches, and free music. Most of my friends are artists and musicians and I feel like we take turns supporting each other which in turn has become my culture. Some of my favorite artists include: Lee Bontecou, Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Odilon Redon, and Ray Johnson.
GTJ: You live in Brooklyn right? do you like it? why?
K.M- Yes. I love Brooklyn. I cannot speak highly enough about it. It has everything you could want from NYC; food, boutiques, music, and art but without all the intensity that Manhattan can be. It's really chill but still maintains the high standards anyone would expect out of New York.
GTJ: What do you draw the most inspiration from? people, fashion, art?
K.M- Oh, I'd be lying if I only picked one. Art is probably the biggest inspiration however I think I am constantly picking up on everything around me... people on the subway, fashion trends I see, because in New York you are constantly bombarded by all of these things. To say all of these things don't affect my designs would be wrong.
GTJ: Who would your 'dream model' for a piece of jewelry be?
K.M- Michelle Williams. She is so talented and beautiful but seems down to earth with a good sense of humor. I love her.
*gtj note.. Michelle is also a Brooklyn Girl!
GTJ: Do you design for/as what you would wear?
K.M- I definitely design for what I want to wear. In fact, I wear the double spike necklace in gold and black almost daily.
GTJ: Why did you choose the shapes you did for your first collection? Why tigers eye?
K.M-Well, the tiger's eye, besides being a beautiful stone, was actually given to me originally as a gift from a best friend in support of my new career after school. So I felt I should design a piece around it as an homage to one of my biggest supporters. I love the shapes I chose for this collection because they have a tough edge to them but they are also elegant and beautiful as well.



June 20, 2011

A Very, Very Early Morning Update From Giving Tree

There is something about this place. I can't feign to understand it, completely, but it always happens when I return home and to the Giving Tree, to work. I can't sleep. I get too excited to start every new day, and find myself awake, always, well before 5 am.
This morning, I had to force myself to lie back down at 2:37 pm and wait, at least, for the sun to rise with me, which happened almost exactly two hours later.
Now, an hour after that, I am all dressed and caffeinated and about to head into the gardens again, but I wanted to spend a few moments celebrating, and sharing, what must be the "magic" of this place.
Magic. It's really the only word I can think of. This place is special. And although I dedicated almost a decade of my life to running the day to day parts of Giving Tree Gallery and our website, I know for sure I had very little, if anything, to do with that.
Instead, what this place most definitively and powerfully is, is the ACTUALIZATION OF A VISION, and even more, THE REALIZATION OF A DREAM.
And those two things belong to my mom, Judith.
She did all this. And it is nothing short of magic.
Every flower that now blooms here was planted and cared for by Judith. Every jewelry case was built by her hands. Every word on the website I wrote thinking about what she taught me about jewelry, and honoring the artists behind the work.
And even though the last few years have been unbelievably difficult for everyone attached to Giving Tree, it is an amazing thing that this place keeps going. Laura and Courtney come to work every day, with happy hearts and FAITH that things will get better...
And Judith, instead of giving up, has now created a BRAND NEW BRANCH of the business!

It is impossible to capture the real feeling of this new space. That is why we hope lots of people can come to our grand opening party on THURSDAY JUNE 23RD from 5-7pm or plan a visit to Giving Tree this summer! 

I also made a bunch of new signs to put around the property Judith has been working on all Spring.

Here are two.
The first is a favorite quote from Andy Warhol. I put it at the far end of the rope bridge, because the spot offers a view of our incredible marsh and the outlets to the sea, and this is how I feel every time I stand there.

Another is tucked,  almost out of view, in the gardens facing the new boutique. If I ever doubt myself, or my ability to actually actualize my own vision, and realize my own dreams... I only need to look at the boutique and think of my mom and what she continues to create, every day.
This always makes me want to say thank you.

.It's now 6 am, and I am on my way to the gardens now. I feel so lucky and again, just want to say...
Thank you.

Here is hoping there is a beautiful magic in your day too!
With love,
Rachel Leigh Smith- Cape Cod June 2011

May 25, 2011


When Courtney asked me to write something for today's debut of the Cape Cod Artists Section at Giving Tree Jewelry, I was so excited. 
I spent all day biking around New York City, but my heart was on Cape Cod.. (who am I kidding, it always is!)
For the last six months I have been "watching from the wings" as Courtney, Laura, and most especially Judith, have worked TIRELESSLY to bring this new section to life. The three of them spent all winter researching, meeting artists, and building the pages online for each artist and each piece. I know the amount of time and care this effort involves. I think that is why they asked me to write a little about it. They are too busy!
So what can we expect from this new section? GREAT THINGS!
The reason is simple. The very first thing I 'learned' when I came home from Los Angeles to work side by side with my Mother at the gallery was her unwavering insistence that we "knew each and every artist personally". Judith believed (and still does) that as there is a vision (and a heart) behind each and every piece of jewelry, we should KNOW the person that creates the piece.
It makes sense! Judith also taught us that the most sacred thing we can do is to support the arts. We do this by supporting the ARTIST.
Every artist in this new Cape Cod section is truly a master of their craft. Each and every piece is handmade, on Cape Cod.
This may sound like a simple thing, but in this day and age of mass produced merchandise, nothing could be more special.
So, it is with GREAT excitement, that I shout out from the wings.. that Giving Tree Jewelry is so very proud to present its brand new
Susan Wilson
Meryl Lefkovitz
Melanie Rawding
Kim Deane
Heather Hoffman
Heidi Weddendorf
Bev Gallerani
Ann Hanson
Lesley Erikson 

April 4, 2011


Once upon a time I heard a story about the way a big ship in the ocean changes direction.
It does so, the story goes, by the movement of a tiny rudder attached to the giant propeller, motor thing at the back of it.
A tiny 4" rudder.
The point is that a very small action, can set off a huge reaction.
Today we debut our THE SUN WILL RISE AGAIN- RELIEF FOR JAPAN charity necklace designed by Marla Wallerstein of Marla Studio.
Our goal is to donate at least $2,000 to the relief efforts in Japan.
All of the proceeds from the sale of the necklace will be donated to the American Red Cross.
Most importantly, the purchase of this necklace is the small thing that shows our collective support for everyone affected by this incomprehensible tragedy. It is the tiny movement that will help evoke giant healing, foster great hope, and tell our brothers and sisters in Japan that we are with them, and that the SUN WILL RISE AGAIN.
Everything we love about the artistry and vision of Marla is found in this sublime piece of jewelry. The sun pendant is subtle and marvelous. A perfectly shined full sun is surrounded by rays of light etched in to the background. Perfect for men and women.

Rachel, Judith, Courtney, and Laura- The Girls of Giving Tree

Click here to purchase THE SUN WILL RISE AGAIN NECKLACE and donate to relief efforts in Japan.