Meet Crown Nine
At the end of a blue-grey building in Old Oakland sits a door surrounded by bright hot pink succulent planters. Step into Crown Nine, the beautiful store and studio owned by jewelry designer Kate Ellen. The space features Kate's own designs as well as the work of around 20 other artists, all with their own unique style. The space itself is rustic, chic, and a little bit quirky. I stopped by to chat with Kate about her experience as a designer and store owner, and I also spoke with Erin, her studio assistant, about the history of the space itself.
With an exterior like this, the store is hard to miss!
How long have you been designing jewelry? And when did the actual brick and mortar shop open?
About 9 years. We opened Crown Nine in 2012 in the former location, and we've been our current location for the last 3 years.
The store doesn't just carry jewelry - there are also some home goods, beauty items, and super cool bandanas designed specifically for the store! Kate's own collection sits at the front of the store in a large display case with the glass covering propped open.
Where did you learn your metalworking skills?
Mostly self taught, but did take some initial classes at College of Marin!
What three words would you use to describe your design aesthetic?
Classic, timeworn, rich.
Some earrings from Erin's collection.
Glistening wedding bands from Kate's Vow Collection.
You also carry the work of other jewelry artists (and makers of many other things as well) in the store. How do you go about finding these people?
Often times they reach out to us, sometimes we ask our existing roster of artists who they know in their communities and Instagram!
Is there anything about Old Oakland specifically that inspires you or adds to the spirit of the store?
There's a great neighborly vibe in Old Oakland- we're constantly sharing with customers what to check out while they're in the area, what to eat, where to shop, who might have what they're looking for, etc.
Finally, what's the most challenging part about running your own business? And more importantly, what's the most rewarding?
Not having enough hours in the day to do all the things is always a challenge, but creating jewelry that plays a role in people's lives- especially the Vow Collection pieces - is super rewarding.
Christina (Retail Manager), Kate, and Erin (photo from Crown Nine website), and that little fella is Jim, the shop dog.
I also spoke with Erin, Crown Nine's studio assistant. She's a jewelry artist as well who trained at a metalsmithing school in Mexico. I specifically asked her about the interior of the store because there were so many interesting pieces of furniture and decor, and the exposed brick and wood walls definitely had a story to them.
I learned that some of the tables were made by Kate's dad, who is also an artist. The space itself was once a carriage house for the Oakland fire department. A huge rolling fire escape door on the left side of the store is left over from the building's past. The wood on the walls is from a goat farm in Minnesota, and the little numbers on the wall are the lot numbers of the goats. Between being a carriage house and a jewelry boutique, the space was also home to a sandwich shop and some art galleries. So there's certainly a history to this gorgeous space!
A lot number left over from the wood's goat farm days.
An aerial view of the store from Kate's upstairs studio.
Thanks so much to all the ladies at Crown Nine - Kate, Christina, and Erin, for chatting with me! You can find them on Instagram or Facebook as well as online or at 515 9th Street in Old Oakland. Don't forget to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to look out for my latest posts!