Betsy Cross and Will Cervarich have taken not just Portland, but the entire country, by storm. Betsy hit the ground running in 2008 when she first introduced us to her 100% handmade jewelry line. She holds a very unique creativity that truly shines through her work. Her pieces are bold but elegant; classy but casual; intriguing but not intimidating. She used this work to create betsy & iya, a lifestyle boutique that sends all the same messages.With the inspiring nature of the jewelry designed by Betsy, it is no surprise that there was a love story happening behind the scenes. Betsy Cross and Will Cervarich, long time love interests, joined forces when they became engaged under the Fremont Bridge. Shortly after, he joined forces within betsy & iya as well! Will and Betsy used their ability to “talk any subject inside-out” to make some changes that would truly put betsy & iya over the edge. They expanded their product base and began traveling the country supporting local products while promoting their own.Today, betsy & iya pieces are sold at boutiques all over the country. With a new line called Bridge, and a combination of goals and talents from both Betsy and Will, this team will undoubtedly continue to blow us all away.E+E: How did you two meet? Everyone loves a good love story, right?B+I: We went to college together at Virginia Tech, where we were both theatre majors. We were always good friends and started falling for each other just as college was coming to an end and we needed to move our separate ways. After a couple ons, offs, and hard long-distance tries, we finally figured it out as I (Betsy) was finishing graduate school in Northern California and Will was settling down in Portland. We got engaged under the Fremont Bridge three years later and the rest is history.
E+E: What was the moment you both decided Will should leave his job and work with betsy & iya full time?B+I: Well, the two of us are REALLY good at talking any given subject inside-out. From the design of the shop, to the sizing of the new cuffs, to what other products we should carry, our general approach is a LOT of talking (some might say in circles) followed by a lot of very swift, very decisive actions. Will quitting his steady, "big-boy" job with benefits and health insurance was no different. We talked about it for months and once we'd created a plan, we put it into action. A few weeks later, Will had his first full-time day at betsy & iya. If there is one moment that stands out, it was the turning point when our friend Kari Chapin (author of the incredible book The Handmade Marketplace) told us to quit worrying so much about what might happen if things didn't go right and start thinking about how incredible it could be if they did. That was a huge turning point for us and a conversation we'll always be grateful to Kari for.
E+E: What do you see trending right now for summer? Any specific colors? Patterns?B+I: We are so not the people to ask about trends---HA! If anything, we try to stay away from trends, but mostly we just stick to our guts---what we dig, what we think is good design and fits into our world, what our customers will probably get behind. As a designer, I have found myself drawn more and more to a variety of materials and textures. Mixing unexpected materials and metals has always been my thing, but there is a softness emerging in my work---an introduction of new textures. I just started seeing this all around me; and I think it's super cool.
E+E: The store has so many eclectic pieces, how do you choose the products?B+I: We travel a lot and see a lot of amazing products. We've driven across the country quite a few times meeting with boutiques who are interested in carrying the betsy & iya jewelry line, so occasionally, we'll see lines in their shops that we want to bring to Portland. We also do quite a few out of town street fairs and craft shows, so we run into tons of independent artists and designers that way, too. From there, it's a matter of figuring out what fits well together, and really really speaks to us. That's the hard part, but also incredibly fun.E+E: What’s your go to outfit for summer?B+I: I am living in the Uzi denim kimono shirt that we carry in the shop. It's light, airy, simple, and sexy. Super bonus: It provides a perfect canvas for a long b&i necklace or layering combo.E+E: What’s been your most exciting/proud moment with betsy + iya?B+I:There are so many, but my most recent moment of effusive pride was the release of the new line: Bridge. It was something I'd been dreaming and sketching for months and to see it all come together, from sketch to prototype to figuring out production hurdles, to photography and promotional material, to our amazing window display promoting the line, to finally clicking "Upload" on our e-commerce site, to getting it on our retail floor, and on the shelves at the boutiques around the country that carry our line. It's been a ton of work from everybody at betsy & iya and work that I'm incredibly proud of.E+E: What’s your favorite thing about Portland? - we know this is hard... too many to name.B+I: You couldn't have asked us at a better time. We just got back from a few out of town trips and Portland always glows a little brighter when you're on the way home. Is it fair to say that my one favorite thing is the vibrant mixed-use neighborhood economies and everything that comes with them? I know that sounds like such an academic answer, but I think so much that's amazing about Portland--from the food to the bikes to the shopping to the fashion to the music to the happy strangers to the beer and the coffee, etc. etc. etc... it's all tied up in how well our neighborhoods are set up. And the best thing is how the cooler our neighborhoods are, the easier it is to continue shopping within them and hanging out within them, which just makes them even cooler. That momentum... so powerful. betsy & iya2403 NW Thurman St.Portland, OR 97210503.227.5482Photo Courtesy: betsy & iya