We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeleine Greeson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Madeleine, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Let’s be honest here–I have always been a bit of a weirdo. I was the kid who scoured libraries and book shops for historical Viking text and got my hands on as many ‘Olde World Magic’ books as humanly possible.

I used to research Egyptology, the Renaissance, and colonial America to try and absorb as much of our {human} history as possible. I’ve had an addiction to the past and how it is preserved since a very young age. I guess you could say I thought I belonged with the artists, philosophers, and makers of centuries past and not with current society and their obsession with the internet, screens, and scrolling.

In addition to my craving for knowledge, I was equally obsessed with fossils and gemstones. Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas I was surrounded by huge, forested areas and sprawling nature preserves full of interesting specimens waiting to be unearthed. I was fascinated by the ancient shapes and natural beauty of each piece, and would more often than not bring back my bounty to showcase around my family home (Sorry, mom).

From there, I began utilizing my found objects in my art. Wire wrapping rocks and gemstones, beading, and jewelry design quickly became a favorite hobby and throughout my teen and young adult years, remained just that. I used my creation time as a way to unwind from a busy day and to help cope with my stress and anxiety from work, school, relationships, etc. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I really started honing in on my craft, and spent more time in my home studio than focusing on my full-time job. A few months later I was asked to be a part of a shop in Steamboat Springs, CO that emphasized local, handmade art. To my surprise, almost all of my pieces sold out! It was in that moment that I realized I didn’t just have a hobby on my hands, but a full-time, creative career. Thus, Paragon & Bone was born.

By incorporating my love of the old and ancient into my art, I am able to share more than just a piece of jewelry with my customers–I am able to give them a story, a meaning, and a connection to something otherworldly. I utilize the metaphysical properties of stones and different metals to create something unique, handmade, and one-of-a-kind. I take what I have learned from my research in history and lore and in turn am able to create pieces that are reminiscent of a more ancient and prolific time. Through my process I hope to instill an intrigue and passion in those that wish to gain a deeper knowledge of metalwork, jewelry design, and the ancient techniques that allowed them to be.

We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.

I think what sets Paragon & Bone apart from others is the emphasis I put on the creation of a piece. Designing is not only about drawing out an idea, cutting and shaping the wire, and picking out the best-looking stones to pair with it. Each collection I create is connected to a feeling, a time of the season/year, or a meaningful, old-world celebration. As I stated earlier, my love for design came from both a mix of history and nature, and this connection is felt throughout all of my pieces.

One thing I am very excited about is being able to promote and sell my art on new platforms. There are SO many new ways to captivate customers compared to just a few years ago. Although online selling can be tricky, I believe that as a whole {the artist community} we are far luckier than previous generations in terms of how many people can view our art in a short time frame, at any time and from anywhere. I am also extremely excited (and hopeful) about market and festival season! Many of my events were cancelled last year and this spring due to COVID-19, but we I am feeling very positive that this summer will see a revival in outdoor activities, including art fairs and festivals. I am very proud of my company for keeping our head above water during this difficult time, and although we had to change our business model and saw some loss, we are coming back stronger than ever and can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on!

How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

I know it is cliché to say, but I owe my success to being an absolute over-worker. In the beginning I was the ‘stay up late until it’s done’ kind of person. I did a lot of trial and error back in the day, and although my methods were a little intense (late nights, long days, editing and re-editing photos, designs, etc.) it made my business what it is today. Now that I have a stronger business model and understand how to run a successful jewelry company, I have much more time to prepare instead of stress-make (we’ve all been there), and understand the value of time management. Allowing yourself the space to take a break and rest is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned over the years. There are some days I wake up, make coffee, sit down at my bench and think, ‘I just don’t have the mental capacity to do this right now’, and that’s okay! Giving yourself some extra time to do other things is absolutely respectable and understandable. Making art is hard! Take a little break and come back to it. Listening to your body and mind (especially in our current world environment) should be your #1 priority.

What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

I started my deeper, artistic journey about 5 years ago when I moved to the Yampa Valley, intrigued by Routt County’s beautiful landscapes, deep snow, and unique mountains. Interested in gemstones, fossils, and specimens at a young age, I fell in love with Colorado’s unique rock formations, prehistoric quartz river beds, and the surrounding area’s geological history. I combine my love of nature, the old world and new to create one of a kind, handmade pieces. I find much inspiration for my art from my local peers, friends, and artists alike, and enjoys teaching jewelry classes and intertwining my love of community with my need for expression.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had so many people along the way that have helped me in huge ways. First, a shoutout to Ohana in Steamboat Springs. They sell handmade art and goods from makers all around Colorado. Ohana was the first shop to ever recognize my work as ‘sellable’, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Another shout out goes to Young Bloods Collective, a local, non-profit art collective I am part of. They promote artistic connection in the Yampa Valley, teach young and new artists how to promote and sell their work, offer workshops, farmers markets, and galleries (free of charge I might add) so that people from all creative backgrounds have a chance to showcase their work to the community. Without their guidance, I would have been completely lost as a fledgling artist!

Website: http://www.paragonandbone.com

Instagram: @paragonandbone

Facebook: Paragon & Bone

Other: tiktok: @paragonandbone

Image Credits
First 4 photos and main shot are from Amanda Powell from Adrift Adream Photography

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