For sophomore Jonathan Graber, creating and selling hand-crafted rings is not merely a means of making extra cash. Instead, it is a uniquely personal expression of his artistry.
Graber can transform common spoons and even forks into rings suited for just about anyone. However, the perfection of his craft began quite recently in response to the work of another artist specializing in spoon rings.
“It started out with me wanting to buy rings,” Graber said. “So, I bought them, and when they all showed up, one of them was way too small, one of them was incredibly bent and one of them was super sharp.”
Graber’s frustration with this purchase inspired him to create quality spoon rings of his own design. After posting his first two attempts on Snapchat, Graber was immediately met with requests for his product.
Since then, his hobby-turned-business, Rings by Jon Thomas, has exceeded his expectations for success.
“At first, when I started selling, I thought, ‘If I can make the money back for my tools by the end of j-term, I’ll be happy,’” Graber explained. “I made it back and doubled it within two weeks.”
Graber attributes the success of his business to the wide-spread demand for spoon rings, as well as the freedom buyers have in selecting their own spoons. As an artist, he also appreciates this freedom and strives to create rings that are specially designed for each customer.
“I always make it with them in mind,” Graber said of his customers. “It makes it much more personal. I can’t make as many that way, but to me, it’s so worth it.”
Graber values this business model because it enables him to work with people individually. Because the process of designing a ring heavily involves customer input, Graber gets to know them and is rewarded by their satisfaction.
“The fact that people post it on their story and are willing to promote it shows me that they love it and they care for me and my business,” Graber said. “I thrive off of that.”
However, Graber noted that the help of friends, family and mentors was instrumental in the process of starting and managing his business.
One key supporter of Graber’s mission was Andrew Fennig, director of the Promising Ventures entrepreneurship program at Taylor. Thanks to Fennig, Graber was able to find a space to work and received many other means of support.
“He offered me so many materials and resources, which was absolutely massive for me, as a student who didn’t really know where to go,” said Graber. “He was definitely a mentor for me.”
Overall, through his business, Graber has found joy in the marriage of two of his greatest passions: art and people.
“In the end, I am feeling very fulfilled,” Graber said. “I absolutely love making the rings. I see that people are happy, and I am happy.”
Though Rings by Jon Thomas has been on hiatus due to a busy Spring semester, Graber was recently at Shop the Loop and looks forward to fully resuming work by summer 2021.