It’s full on Christmas mode around my home. There’s music playing, and candles in my fireplace, a tree decorated with every ornament that I’ve ever gotten in my entire life…including all the ones my kids have made. My home is filled with scents that have hints of clove, and orange, smells that I have memory associations with from my childhood Christmas’. I just love this time of year! I tend to do my gift shopping throughout the year, because it’s just plain hard for me to do it once Christmas draws near with 4 sets of watchful eyes. Had I seen Christine’s jewelry before I was done getting my sisters’ gift, I would have definitely picked up a necklace for her. I love the fact that her pieces are made with someone in mind. And with a name like Chocolate and Steel, you just have to know that what you are getting is going to be unique and fun. So if you haven’t gotten all your peeps their gifts yet, head to Christine’s Etsy shop, and see what perfect piece of jewelry she has made that would fit your recipient. And enjoy your week because….Christmas is coming!
Please introduce yourself.
Hello! I am Christine Street-Gregg and I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Glendora. It is a hot and dry area that once was orange and avocado groves. We had an enormous avocado tree in our front yard! After moving to all areas of California I settled in Los Angeles. And I LOVE it here!!!
What do you make or do?
I am the maker and designer behind Chocolate and Steel. This is what I do with the majority of my time but I do love to create other things as well like sewing Halloween costumes for my kids. I have to put my fashion degree to use somehow.
Where can we find your creations?
Chocolate and Steel can be found online and in stores across the country (& world). www.chocolateandsteel.com, www.chocolateandsteel.etsy.com, www.facebook.com/chocolateandsteel, www.instagram.com/chocolateandsteel
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business? how did the name come about?
13 years ago my (now) husband and I were in London at the Tate Modern museum. There was a painting entitled “chocolate and steel”. I said that would be a great name for a jewelry line. At the time I did not make jewelry, at least not much. I had no aspirations to have my own business. I was pretty happy working for a Swedish fashion line. Cut to a few years down the road….Jewelry I was making for personal use was sought after by customers at the store I worked at. While I was on maternity leave with my first child I decided to build a website to sell my jewelry so I could make a little money while on leave. My husband reminded me of the name “chocolate and steel” from the museum so many years before. And thus, it was born. It represents the juxtaposition of “sweet and industrial”.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
Yes, Chocolate and Steel is my full time job. I made the jump in 2007, I believe. I took steps to leaving my old job. After my son was born I returned to work only part time and spent nap times and night time working on my jewelry. In 2007 I took my two weeks’ vacation and dedication the time I would have been working at my job to only working at my jewelry. At the end of the two weeks I made more money than I would have at my old job, so I quit (and I cut back on other expenses). It was scary, exhausting and totally rewarding. My husband has always been my main source of encouragement.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
Play soccer with my son, paint with my daughter, go on hikes with my husband, read a good book….
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
Both! I think if I wasn’t being creative in my career I would probably feel it to be more of a necessity. But I feel so fortunate to be able to pursue a career in making jewelry that it still feels very much like a luxury. I actually feel a little guilty sometimes.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
The biggest obstacle I have to overcome is myself. It is difficult to tie money to my creativity and that can sometimes zap my inspiration. I am learning that the collections that sell the best are the ones that were made with a specific person in mind. Whether I’m making something for myself or a friend, those are the pieces that are truly inspired and not based on what I know sells.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Such a good question. I have thought about this in the past too. I don’t know that anything substantial would change. I am a pretty industrious person so I think that I would make a business selling whatever I’m into at the moment. But two things that would definitely change: I’d travel more and I’d buy a house with an awesome double wide shipping container studio (w/ a skylight!).
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
There will always be a reason why now is not the time. Don’t wait for the time to do something because time is not waiting for you.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
There are a few that I follow on Instagram that blow me away at how dedicated they are to their craft. Ariele Alasko, Jen Hewett, Sienne Josselin, Kate Bingburt, Courtney Cerruti, Miriam Dema