Kristin Wornson feels most at home in wild places. Even when she’s in her apartment, she surrounds herself with wilderness reminders by designing and wearing jewelry made with pressed flowers, plants and other natural elements. “Skipping Lilies started with my love of nature and biology and being able to carry it around with you,” says Wornson.
That Wornson brought her passion for the outdoors to the art of making jewelry isn’t a surprise. As a young girl, she was enchanted by her grandmother’s jewelry collection. “She’d dump it all out on the bed and it was always the first thing I wanted to look at,” says Wornson. “Then she would tell stories of the life events and travel [when she wore each piece] and I loved those stories.”
But, for Wornson, transforming her jewelry-making hobby into a business was a bit of a fluke. She started out in the working world as a naturalist and scientist, spending time tracking army ants in the Amazon and teaching marine science to children on Catalina Island (among other adventures). In between, she’d return to her parents’ house in Minnesota.
In 2006, she found herself back home at the same time as her brother, Eric, and the siblings started bandying about “a bunch of crazy” business ideas.
Eric eventually said, “Why don’t we just sell the jewelry you’ve been making?” That was 14 years ago. Her brother eventually returned to his career in engineering, while Wornson still runs the business out of her Minneapolis home.
The natural world is her muse. “My eyes are always drawn to bright colors and interesting color combinations, whether in birds or fish or reefs or plants,” she says. “I just really love plants and small, beautiful wild things, and I’m always collecting interesting specimens on walks.” And while the pressed flowers and natural elements in her pieces might seem exotic, many of them are sourced close to home.
“A lot of the plants I use come from urban landscapes, roadsides, alleyways, walking around the lake. I’ll go into yards that are overgrown and collect the tiny things that people would never otherwise look at,” Wornson says.
“So many people ask me, ‘Where do you find these amazing things?’ and I want to say, ‘I find them in your yard before you mow them or spray them with chemicals,’ ” she says. “When you give them a new form, people see them in a whole different way.”