The beachy, colorful jewelry from San Juan Island-based business Betina Roza are sure to make the wearer stand out– and for good reason. Each piece is intentionally created to serve as a daily reminder to be bold, brave, and to follow one’s own path. After all, that’s exactly what Owner Erin Heydenreich has done.
Heydenreich has found great success as the one-woman force behind Betina Roza, but she began her career in a different field entirely: marine biology. After arriving on San Juan Island for an apprenticeship, she proceeded to work at the Center for Whale Research for 15 years. She left that position in 2017 to pursue Betina Roza on a full-time basis.
From Hobby to Passion
Even while working as a scientist, Heydenreich notes that she’s “always been a maker.” However, she rediscovered her love for jewelry at age 26, after her mother passed away. What started as a way to keep her mind occupied during a difficult time developed into something much bigger.
To deepen her skill set, Heydenreich enrolled in a jewelry making class at a local college. Next, she took a more serious metalsmithing course in Mexico, where she has been living seasonally since high school.
“I definitely find a lot of inspiration in my nomadic lifestyle,” Heydenreich says. “I live part-time on San Juan Island, and part-time in this little town called Sayulita, Mexico. And I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”
Heydenreich’s jewelry is also influenced by her longtime love for the ocean– after all, she wanted to be a marine biologist for all of her life. She surfs as a hobby and incorporates the colors, motion, and fluidity of the sea into elements of her designs. Her interest in astrology is also apparent in many of her pieces, namely in her lunar-inspired collection and birthstone necklaces.
Made with Longevity in Mind
Heydenreich’s pieces range from a wide variety of earrings to cuff bracelets, statement necklaces, and rings made with stones such as jasper, amazonite, quartz, and turquoise. In addition, Heydenreich takes care to choose materials that are durable and long-lasting. Silver is her metal of choice thanks to her silversmith training, but she also works with brass and 14-karat gold-filled wire (which, unlike gold plating, will stay gold for life if treated well).
“I know a lot of people are like me, and they put jewelry on, and they don’t take it off for weeks at a time or sometimes years,” Heydenreich says. “I want it to stay beautiful for as long as possible, so that attention to detail is important to me.”
Though Heydenreich undoubtedly has vision and intentionality when it comes to her jewelry, she describes herself as a maker rather than a designer. She often doesn’t know how a piece will look until it’s finished; rather than an overtly mental process, she looks at her workflow as an “organic, kind of alchemical process.”
Forging a New Path
In addition to her unique approach to creation, Heydenreich’s business philosophy is wholeheartedly her own. She notes that there are a “million formulas for success” that get broadcast to female entrepreneurs; however, Heydenreich’s advice to aspiring creatives is that there is no formula, and that you can make your own way.
“I think people come into a creative business thinking that they have to offer everything and make everyone happy. That’s a very common trait, just with women in general, to please everyone,” Heydenreich says. “What’s taken me forever to realize is that, if I just do my thing, then the people who like what I do will stick with me and I don’t have to make everyone happy.”
You can purchase Heydenreich’s designs online or in person at the artist’s community at Roche Harbor, where she’s had a permanent booth (lucky No. 7) for seven years. She’s there on a near-daily basis during the summer, so if you’d like to take your very own piece of San Juan Island back to the mainland, Betina Roza jewelry makes for a beautiful memento.
“It’s very important to me that when people buy something from me, they feel like they’re getting something special,” Heydenreich says. “Something that’s from San Juan Island, something that’s created in small batches, something that’s not mass produced. I put a lot of time and effort into making sure that my designs are wearable and durable and functional.” 248 Reuben Memorial Dr., Roche Harbor, betinaroza.com