For Bob Heiney, the ancient art of crafting Celtic jewelry is a labour of love.
What is your own background?
I am a geek, a gamer, a maker, an artist, and a proud owner of multiple lasers. My mom is a pioneer in the inspiring and visionary jewelry industry, and the time came when I wanted to create items that I wanted to wear myself. Celtic Knot Works began with our line of pendants featuring Celtic animals and traditional symbols. Today, we have grown to offer Viking rune sets, pocket dice sets for gamers, and other cool stuff for the well-dressed adventurer.
What is the company’s history and mandate?
One thing that has become clear to me in our eighth year is how important it is to have fun. There is plenty of hardship in the world, no doubt, but we can’t be resilient without joy. Part of our expansion – we have added a dice and gaming shop to the site to bring some Celtic flair to the world of tabletop gaming – is because we want to be part of our customers’ lives when they are having fun. Some of our new designs – including the three Gemstone Dragon pendants and the Celtic Spirals Cat pendant – came about because I was having fun. There is something to be said for bringing some happiness into the world.
How has the business evolved over time?
Celtic Knot Works’ growth has followed my own interests and enthusiasms. As an artist, I think you can only be creative when you are authentically excited about what you are doing. If it’s not fun to create, it’s not going to be fun to wear. It is happiness that gets us through the hard times. We focus on creating little pieces of beauty that provoke smiles. It is a good place to be and, I think, a deeply necessary one.
What are your roles and responsibilities there?
We are a small family business. That means I do a lot – from creating designs, overseeing the hand-casting – which is done here in the United States to ensure high quality – packing and shipping orders, keeping the website up to date, and social media. I also have a great partner – my wife Suzie – who is a talented designer and entrepreneur, the support of my mom Micki, and our cat Raven who keeps us motivated by requiring incredible amounts of snacks at all times.
What are your core products?
We are known for our pendants – all hand-cast in fine American pewter, which means the quality stays very high – featuring Celtic Animals, traditional Celtic and mystical symbols, and the occasional dragon. New this year is the Dice and Gaming shop, which includes very cool stainless steel Pocket RPG Dice sets and other neat accessories. Viking Rune Sets & Gemstone pendulums are a big hit with those who would like a hint of what tomorrow holds.
What are the challenges of the vocation?
This year, the biggest challenge has been containing my excitement about some new pendants we are debuting for the holiday season. Some of my looks come to life very, very quickly – the Celtic Spirals Bear, for example, demanded to make the leap from concept to creation on a very abbreviated timeline – while others take time to perfect. When a project has been years in the making, it is hard not to spill the beans. It will be on the website soon – I promise!
What are the rewards?
It is important that Celtic history isn’t lost entirely to myth and memory. By putting a modern twist on ancient symbols – and introducing them to a generation of people who can incorporate the strength and wisdom of the Celts into their lives – I feel like I have done something important. The best part is when people take the time to give me feedback. There has been a phenomenal response and I love it when someone sends me an email letting me know how my work impacted them.
How do you reach your potential clients?
We are primarily online, connecting with our customers via our website, Facebook, and Instagram. We also do some email marketing. We are gradually easing back into doing some shows and events.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Celtic marketplace?
We are strong and smiling – but would you expect anything less? The return of travel is good news for everyone who’s wanted to make the journey home to Ireland. The support of small local businesses is much appreciated. And the creativity and enthusiasm among the maker community is great to see. The work that is being done right now is amazing.