“To make my dream of an independent jewelry school a reality, I needed not only capital but also a trusted hand to hold as I started this entrepreneurial journey. Community Capital has provided both, and the staff is nothing short of awesome. I know that I can count on them if I need advice or support. I also received a scholarship that enabled me to learn how to manage my website and social media accounts.”
Owner, Raychel Wengenroth
Support Provided: Business loan, technical assistance and marketing education scholarship
Impact: Empowered woman, low-income artist to establish sustainable business startup
The Back Story
Raychel Wengenroth got “hooked” on jewelry making at the age of 15 when her parents gave her a 2 week “Basic Jewelry” class at Peter’s Valley School of Craft as a birthday gift. Raychel says “It changed my life” and she never looked back. Raychel went on to become a nationally recognized artist and silversmith who to this day reveres the feel of metal and the beauty of craftsmanship in hand made jewelry.
She also discovered a passion for art education and over the years taught at 12 different art schools throughout the Northeast. The idea to open her own jewelry school was born at the 2015 Fall for Art show when a number of her students approached her with requests for local classes. As she considered the idea of a jewelry school, she began to research her options, not least of which entailed a call to Community Capital to find out about financing for her venture. Based on the advice she received, she reached out to the Mid-Hudson SBDC office and received assistance in preparing a business plan and projections. Raychel found the perfect location in a 1000 square feet studio at Kingston’s Shirt Factory, a highly sought-after center for artists that was created by Mike Piazza and offers 50 artist studios and live/work lofts (which are almost all rented out).
Community Capital approved a $25,000 startup loan, and Hudson Valley Silverworks officially opened its beautiful sun drenched studio space in May of 2016. The school is the only one of its kind in the area and offers affordable classes and plenty of hands-on bench time to both beginners and advanced students. Classes span topics such as Wire Wrapping 101, Chain Making, Wax Working and Casting and Basic Jewelry Making and are taught by Raychel or one of her guest instructors on specific topics. Raychel is also offering custom jewelry making for clients. “One of my greatest joys comes from working with individual clients, taking their vision and making it a reality. The excitement from concept to creation is rewarding for both of us, and it seems custom work of this nature is hard to find. I find it challenging in all the best of ways and love the intimate individuality of the process.” Among others, she has forged commissioned works for prominent figures like Oprah, LJ Dupont and the Bob Hope “Humana Award”.
Raychel’s goal is to offer a unique and fulfilling experience for her students and strives to inspire others to tap into their own creativity. Her mission is to “provide an environment cultivating a passionate community of jewelers and silversmiths who share their knowledge and ideas of the creative process through a conveniently located, well equipped studio where instructors and students gather.” Classes are available on a regular weekly basis as well as one and two day workshops on weekends.
Raychel’s big dream is to expand into a full-fledged craft school – an artist retreat that would offer studios for jewelry, blacksmithing, photography and woodworking, a gallery/store, dormitories for faculty/students and a kitchen/dining hall. In Raychel’s vision, such a facility would draw students and instructors from all over the country for the quality of the instruction, the love of the arts and the beauty of the Hudson Valley.
Hudson Valley Silverworks
77 Cornell Street – Suite 211;
Kingston, New York