Starting a business is always a journey, but the jewelry brand SASKIA began with a literal one.
Seventeen years ago, Saskia de Vries and her now-husband and business partner Scott Kerns met waiting tables at a DC restaurant. At the time, they were both actors (the only actors working in the restaurant, in fact). After getting engaged, they decided to help the other live one of their dreams. They started with Scott’s – taking a trip around the world.
Over the course of a year, they traveled to 13 countries. And just before leaving, Saskia’s childhood friend encouraged her to take a small jewelry kit with her. The advice paid off.
“We were in Korea on this boat going to Jeju Island,” Saskia remembers. “I was making elastic bracelets, and I taught these two kids how to make them without us having the same language. Then in China, we went very far out where there were no tourists. I’m just sitting on a bus doing these string bracelets and everyone comes crowding around. When I’m done, I just give it to somebody. I found on the trip, it was a way I could communicate with people I couldn’t otherwise speak with.”
While traveling, she used those connections she was able to make to push her artistry by creating apprenticeships for herself with locals who she could learn from. In Tibet, she studied with one man in a market, who taught her some traditional knotting. In Cambodia, she learned some techniques from a group of kids on the beach selling intricate string bracelets. “That trip was all about connecting with cultures that were all new for us, and just talking to people, suddenly we were invited to some festival or a wedding,” she says. “That’s kind of what I like to bring to our jewelry and our customers – sharing my love of people who are different.”