Northshore Magazine

Northshore April 2020

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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91 BETSY FROST IS A THRIVING ARTIST AND entrepreneur. She designs the jewelry she sells to some 40 shops around the country, she is regularly commissioned to make pieces for local institutions, and she owns a popular store where she sells her own work along with and a curated selection of gifts and accessories. And she's happy to talk about all that. But first, the dogs. It's hard to miss the dogs, a mother-daughter pair of white- and-black Great Danes named Scarlet and Mischa, whose quiet presence takes up serious space among the earrings and soaps and cards in the tiny shop. They are part of the Ipswich Service Dog Project, a local nonprofit that raises and trains service dogs for donation to people with mobility issues. Frost is an avid supporter of the organization, and her shop sells jewelry, books, and calendars that raise funds for its work. Locals will stop into the shop, she says, just to say hi to the dogs. (The store is only there because the landlord agreed to let Scarlet and Mischa be regulars in the space.) And this is right where Frost wants to be: creating jewelry, running a flourishing business, and keeping her other passions close by her side. "It's been great," she says. "I feel so thankful that the community has been so supportive." Frost was interested in jewelry-making from a young age. While she was growing up in Vermont, a neighbor who was a master metalsmith let her hang around his studio and she just knew, instinctively, that that was what she wanted to do too. It took a while for her to get there, though. First she went to Williams College, intending to prepare for medical school and become a surgeon like her father. Instead, she ended up majoring in psychology. After graduation she took time to traveled the world, waiting tables, singing and dancing with the performance art nonprofit Up With People, and studying silversmithing when she could. Eventually, deciding it was time to settle down, she enrolled in a master's program in counseling psychology while working in a high-tech company to pay the bills. Then, she turned 30 and realized she wasn't where she wanted to be. "I quit the master's program and went to Mass Art," she says. In art school she majored in metals and 3-D design, mainly creating sculptural pieces rather than jewelry. But when she graduated, she knew she had to find a way to make a living with her artistic skills, so she dove headlong into her childhood dream of jewelry-making. She was off and running immediately. At the first gift fair she showed at, she got an order for hundreds of earrings and bracelets. Others orders quickly followed. She had to hire help to keep up with production. Frost attributes her success to the roaring economy of the late 1990s, the business skills she learned during her stint in tech world, and her willingness to think about what customers wanted to buy rather than just BETSY FROST HAS TURNED HER ARTISTRY INTO A THRIVING JEWELRY ENTERPRISE. B Y S A R A H S H E M K U S what she wanted to design. "I don't have a big ego," she says. "I had to make a living doing this. I was ready to hustle." Still, her pieces all have a distinctive style. Frost calls her work "contemporary classic," and she favors fluid, organic lines, three- dimensional shapes, and larger pieces. Instead of setting stones and pearls, she prefers to trap them; in one piece, a cluster of silver clams open slightly to reveal the pearls within, for example. After 15 years of selling her work wholesale as well as at high-retail craft and gift shows, Frost decided it was time to re-invent her business. Many of her established buyers were aging and retiring, and she was feeling the effects of competition from online retailers. In 2015, she held a retail pop-up for the holiday season, and it was so successful, she decided to make the move into a permanent shop. Her downtown Ipswich store opened in November 2016. Looking ahead, Frost is not thinking about expansion or any more major changes (and her dogs are fine with that. She is happy where she is. "I plan to stay here," she says, "and keep things fresh and unique." betsyfrostdesign.com PHOTOGRAPHS BY LEA ST. GERMAIN (LEFT), COURTESY OF BETSY FROST (RIGHT) Betsy Frost has a passion for her jewelry designs as well as her Great Danes named Scarlet and Mischa.

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