About 10 years ago, Cat Luck hopped in her Volvo wagon to sell her jewelry up and down the West and East Coasts. The Salt Lake City native eventually made her way over to Pittsburgh, the place she’s since called home for the last six years.
Cat creates her two jewelry lines under Collarbone Jewelry at her studio in South Side’s Brew House and sells her creations throughout the ‘Burgh and beyond.
Cat Luck wearing one of her necklaces (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
Cat started her journey at a community college in Salt Lake City. Her hope was to transfer to a bigger fashion design school in New York City. However, while still in community college, Cat started a part-time job at a bead shop paying only $8 an hour. While there, she learned basic jewelry making techniques and began tinkering with different vintage jewelry pieces.
After selling a few of her own works, Cat realized she liked making jewelry better than fashion design. She dropped out of school and began her jewelry venture across the West coast at different resort towns.
“I started going on these adventures for months and just trusted the universe would take me where I needed to go, that my gas tank would be full, that I would have food to eat,” Cat said. “I met cool people who let me stay with them, I stayed at hostels, at hotels, above shops. I got so many opportunities by following my dreams and trusting that the universe would guide me.”
Following a stint in Central Pennsylvania staying with her mother, Cat wound up settling in the East. She officially moved to Pittsburgh for a job with a jeweler in 2014 and further refined her skillset. After seven months, she quit the jeweler and decided it was time to hustle and survive independently off her own art. By doing pop-ups, trunk shows, and selling at museums and shops, Cat was finally able to get enough funds together to enroll in a NYC jewelry school in 2018.
Cat’s been crafting her jewelry in the ‘Burgh ever since. We were able to chat with her about her pieces, some of her favorite fellow Pittsburgh crafters, and what’s on the horizon for her jewelry. Below is our interview with Cat, edited for length and clarity.
The Incline: Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?
Cat Luck: I have two jewelry lines. Collarbone Jewelry has “a story with every piece”. Cat Luck represents “as luck would have it.” They are essentially yin and yang. The two lines encompass both, because we all have two sides of us as humans. It’s all about trying to come together as a balance.
Collarbone is my fashion jewelry line; I have pieces at $28 and up to make it more affordable and accessible. The Collarbone line is about traveling, inspiration, trusting the universe, living the dream, and following your heart. More free spirited, similar to what I did traveling the country. The metals I use for this line are brass, bronze, raw stones, and freshwater pearls. I want the collection to have a soul connection because, for me, it’s not about the money.
Collarbone X Hammered Earrings (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
The Cat Luck line is more minimal. It is more structured and linear. It’s more about thinking about it before you do it, as opposed to Collarbone’s leap before you look. I had to use a higher skill set that I wasn’t familiar with until I came to Pittsburgh and went to jewelry school. I would call it art jewelry, which is a little more high end. It all starts at $50 and goes higher. The metals for this are sterling silver, 14k gold, gold plated, and more.
Cat Luck X Silver Story (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
Why does jewelry speak so strongly to you as a craft?
It can mean so many things. For one thing, I like that it can be sentimental. It has been used since the beginning of time for so many different things like ceremony, to show promise of love, to mourn, and to celebrate a baby’s life. Jewelry plays such a significant role in all sorts of life; it’s an expression form. Not only does it represent, it can show a unique personality and be used as a gift to show feelings for somebody. People can know what you are about, your lineage, or your culture based on your jewelry.
What do you like about being a part of the creative community here in Pittsburgh?
I love Pittsburgh; I am so grateful that I found this city and I never thought that I would be a jewelry designer here. It’s acceptable and affordable for living. In a lot of the other places I lived, like Seattle, I had to get other part-time jobs to make it work. Pittsburgh is able to hold me in a way where I’ve been able to make a comfortable living with only my art. With Mon Made, PG&H, and the Craft Business Accelerator, it has really brought together other artists. There are a lot of makers in Pittsburgh, and it is very supportive. I have a lot of friends now that are makers. We come together and talk to each other about our issues and how to grow. I feel like it’s more competitive and secretive in other cities, whereas Pittsburgh is very communal.
Who are some other local makers and crafters that inspire you?
Some of my friends that are also crafters are Gillian at Broken Plates, Maia Leppo who also does jewelry and lifestyle brands, Safran Everyday, Otto Finn owned by Rona [Read The Incline’s story with Otto Finn here], Flux Bene owned by Rebekah, Part Time Poodle owned by Lindsay. For clay, I really like Jowdy Studios, Emmanuelle Ceramics, K. Lo Rebel, Garbella. It is just really cool to see all of these Pittsburgh makers; this city is a gem of a place to grow.
Where can we find you selling your pieces in Pittsburgh?
Some of my jewelry can be found at Picket Fence in Shadyside, Wildcard in Lawrenceville, Small Mall in Lawrenceville, Bellwether in Sewickley, Kards Unlimited has a few pieces, Mattress Factory, Frick Museum, and then Fallingwater for a special, private collection. I do pop-ups, which really helped originally grow my brand around the East Coast. Follow me on Instagram to see where and when I’m popping up! I also always do the Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Cat Luck Collection (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
What’s next for your jewelry journey?
It can kind of go in several different directions. I have been doing it for 11 years now, so there’s almost a sense of now what? I’ve thought about opening a small store in Pittsburgh. However, I just bought a van so I wanna do a lot of traveling; I am a traveler at heart. I want to keep Pittsburgh as a base, but I would love to do more arts festivals around the country. The other option is to grow my website for more web sales. I am kind of at a crossroads right now but I think I might just bop around the country then eventually come back to Pittsburgh for a shop.