Regulars at the Bellingham Farmers Market might already be familiar with the distinctive work of earring designer Gina Garding. As the creative force behind GG Clay Co, she uses polymer clay to produce funky yet refined statement earrings that are sure to compliment any outfit.
For Garding, an elementary and special education teacher, jewelry creation started as a therapeutic hobby during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a longstanding love of statement jewelry, she had difficulty curating pieces that matched her personal style.
Craft clay proved to be a fun yet accessible material for custom designs, especially without access to traditional ceramic resources such as a kiln. The results are entirely original: Fun and sophisticated handmade earrings that Garding began selling online in June of 2020.
“When I grew to have an abundance of earrings that I couldn’t even house in my apartment anymore, I realized that other people might be interested in them,” she recounts.
Setting up shop at smaller markets throughout the winter helped to ease Garding into the flow of the busy summer months. Just as mask restrictions were lifted and shoppers re-emerged in full force, GG Clay Co landed a spot at her goal venue — the Bellingham Farmers Market.
This bustling downtown market is an ideal fit for Garding, who is no stranger to customer service and thrives on interactions with the community. The rapport she develops with shoppers each weekend is the most satisfying part of running her business.
“I love connecting with customers… it usually ends up not even being about jewelry at all,” she says. “The jewelry is what gets us talking, and then maybe 30 minutes later I’ve made crazy connections.”
Now there is even a GG Clay Co collection inspired by fruits and vegetables, complete with radish earrings in homage to the Bellingham Farmers Market logo. These designs often appeal to other teachers due to their playfulness, and Garding notes that a large portion of her customer base is made up of other educators.
When the market season slows for the winter, Garding hopes to continue to sell her work offline by partnering with local businesses such as plant nurseries. In addition to the farmers market, Garding sells earrings through her Etsy store and maintains a loyal following on instagram as @ggclayco. Followers can expect previews of her newest collections, which are released on the 1st of every month at 8 p.m.
To learn more about GG Clay Co and shop for earrings, visit etsy.com/shop/ggclayco.