Wisconsin native Billy Bartels was working as a graphic designer in Germany when he realized he was burnt out with the business.
"It was time for a change and I knew I wanted to make physical objects—and work for myself," says Bartels. "I had been making jewelry for myself and friends since I was really young, and had taken several jewelry-making classes in high school. So it all just fell into place."
More precisely, what fell into place was a collection of handsome braided cord jewelry dubbed Vim Beget, which roughly translates to "Life Creates."
Not a bad name for a bold new undertaking. "My inspiration tends to come from a lot of sources," says Bartels. "Architecture, furniture, functional design. I try to design pieces I would like to buy myself but I can't find."
His braided pieces are straightforward in concept. Most feature hand-braided cords of vegetable-tanned leather fastened with rusted steel coils. The effect, however, is anything but ordinary—offering a cool, tough look that appeals to male and female customers alike.
"The line leans toward masculine but is definitely meant to be unisex," explains Bartels, who also creates sterling silver rings and bracelets with an organic, uneven texture. "It's meant for both men and women who don't like their fashion to fit in any certain category. It's sized for men, but I do every piece to whatever size is requested. I find myself lengthening and shortening bracelets all of the time."
Because the collection is made entirely by hand, each piece is slightly different.
"The quality standard is high," Bartels says, "but flaws in the aesthetic finish are embraced."
Didn't we tell you messy braids were in this season?
$195 - $650 at VimBeget.com