Owner/designer turned her hobby into a business while working at a Portland call center.

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FRESH TANGERINE OWNER/DESIGNER
Kim Kogane

What do you do? I am the owner and designer of Fresh Tangerine, a handmade jewelry brand in Pioneer Square. I’m the face of the business and dream up and create all of our jewelry lines and drive the creative direction of the brand. I love to travel, so I try to go on trips throughout the year to find new inspiration for jewelry designs and to find ways I can push my business to be more innovative.

How did you get started in that field? I’ve always made jewelry as a hobby, but I never really saw it as a career. I grew up doing all kinds of crafts at home with my mom, but jewelry was the one thing that really stuck with me. It’s an activity that’s very relaxing for me and something I can do for hours without ever feeling bored. I decided to take the leap and start my business while working at a call center in Portland. I was at a point in my life where I felt like I had nothing to lose, and I’m so grateful it all worked out!

What’s a typical day like? I wake up, check email and social media. Then I head to my studio and check in with my team to see what they’re working on. We all work together in an open loft space, so it’s easy for me to get a quick visual of what’s going on. It’s important to me that we are all open and honest with each other, and the layout of our space helps keep us close and working together as a team.

All of my work days are different, but the common theme is that I’m always juggling a million different projects. Some days I’m working on new designs or a way to make production more efficient; other days I’m focused on our retail website or marketing. As a business owner, you have to be able to jump from task to task and change hats quickly. You also have to be prepared for the unknown — the more comfortable you can be with not knowing what’s coming, the better off you’ll be.

Kim Kogane, the owner/designer of Fresh Tangerine brand jewelry in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. (Courtesy of Katrina Koo)
Kim Kogane, the owner/designer of Fresh Tangerine brand jewelry in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. (Courtesy of Katrina Koo)

What’s the best part of the job? My absolute favorite part of my job is when I’m out and about in Seattle and see someone wearing a piece of Fresh Tangerine jewelry. It’s so crazy to me that a piece that was once just an idea I had is now a part of someone’s daily life.

What surprises people about what you do? People are surprised when I tell them that I don’t actually make jewelry that often! I think people hear that I’m a jewelry designer and immediately envision a very bohemian free-spirited lifestyle of selling stuff at markets and doing a lot of yoga, but it’s not like that at all. There’s so much detail and planning that goes into every piece, and I’m always working hard to make sure that our customers receive the best possible experience and care from us.

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