Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.
Who? Shannon Lowery is the founder of Mud Lowery.
When? Lowery opened his business in 2015.
Where? Lowery is based in Fort Worth but only sells online. You can find some of his merchandise at some of Cavender’s locations as well.
What? Native American-made Turquoise jewelry in Fort Worth.
Shannon Lowery, founder of Mud Lowery, spoke with the Fort Worth Report about the inspiration behind his turquoise jewelry and working with big-name country stars.
This interview has been edited for clarity and grammar.
Sadek: What’s the main inspiration behind Mud Lowery?
Lowery: I’m half-Sicilian, and half-Native American. So the turquoise comes from being Native American and I’m a member of the Lumbee Tribe, which is a tribe in North Carolina.
My grandmother would always go back to homecomings and PowWows in North Carolina. She would buy my sisters and cousins turquoise jewelry. That’s always been my favorite color.
The water in South Florida is that color and when I would pick out a T-shirt or something, I’d always go toward this color so I’ve always been drawn to it but didn’t really (care) about the jewelry.
But in Florida, no one really wore turquoise jewelry. So I didn’t think anything of it. But I was familiar with this because I saw it all the time. I moved to Texas after I graduated from the University of Florida. I wanted to rodeo, but I was like, ‘Gosh, this is becoming so expensive.’ So I was like ‘Well, I can make turquoise jewelry. Everybody wears it out here. And I know a lot about it.’ So I started teaching myself and it was just kind of a hobby.
Sadek: So jewelry-making is not your full-time job?
Lowery: It was just kind of a hobby. And at the time, I had a full-time job. I had opened a chain of Western stores.
I was doing jewelry on the side while helping them open their stores and then I left there and went to Justin Brands, which is a big company.
I went to Justin Brands to be the marketing manager for Tony Lama, which is where I got to learn a lot about product marketing. And even though it really wasn’t a conflict of interest, it’s still the same industry. The people that are wearing the boots are also wearing my jewelry. So that was kind of confusing.
I knew that I kind of needed to pick one or the other. I did get to learn a lot from working at Tony Lama that I was able to apply to Mud Lowery.
I left and went to Lockheed Martin. And I was able to get out of [the Western] industry and only be in it for myself. And Lockheed, we don’t work Fridays. So I would have Friday, Saturday, Sunday to work on the jewelry. I got to work on this passion on the side… I was doing pretty good. It was income that we relied on. That wasn’t the plan but I was like, ‘Dang.’ It became like a career without thinking that it would.
Sadek: Since launching the company in 2015, you had the chance to work with a few celebrities.
Lowery: It was April 18, 2021. This is like our biggest thing ever for Mud Lowery. Miranda Lambert wore our jewelry at the American Country Music Awards. And from that day forward, it was like overnight, over a period of minutes, the company that was kind of just like a passion turned into like a real company. We were having to respond to emails all night long. It was great.
I really enjoyed getting to work with her and I knew that if I wanted to continue to work with celebrities I needed to create celebrity-quality jewelry. It really pushed me to start changing the way that I made jewelry because back then I only made a few pieces that were different from what everyone else was making.
Over the last like two years, I’ve started to create almost a rulebook for (the company). If I’m gonna make a piece of jewelry, this is what it’s going to entail. I’ve always wanted to incorporate turquoise in a way when I can. But I knew that if I wanted my jewelry to be on stage, I couldn’t just be doing super traditional jewelry but I still wanted to use turquoise. And I also knew that if I’m going to be selling jewelry to celebrities or making jewelry for these celebrities, I had to have an option that was similar to what the celebrities are wearing for my customers. So that’s when I started incorporating more modern stones, kind of like taking a modern twist on my designs.
Recently we did a bunch of touring jewelry for every opening, look for Carrie Underwood.
Sadek: What is the current business model?
Lowery: We turned from doing custom orders to ready-to-ship products so we just do usually like a weekly drop on my website. I make everything myself and I do all my photography. My wife is usually the one that models for photos.
I look at it and it will be so cool if I continue to work really, really hard. … I do miss out on a couple of events here and there so that one day, I can possibly hand this off to my son. And he would get to skip a ton of those hard lessons that I had to go through. I just get to hand it off to him. He can take it over.
Randomly people will ask him ‘What do you have to do when you grow up and get older?’ And it’d be like making jewelry with my dad. And so, in my mind, I’m like, if we continue this and if we make the right decisions and treat our customers fairly, hopefully, this will last for three generations.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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