The driving force behind NuBe Green lies in the creative souls that make up our team, which is why we would love to introduce you to the irreplaceable Jan Reingold! Jan designs her own jewelry under the moniker Izanna Jewelry and also works at Tatters, but brings her talent and energy to NuBe once a week.
Jan is a wealth of inspiration, so we couldn’t resist asking her a few questions about the grittiness of Capitol Hill, the importance of implementing repurposed items in designs and why spending the day at NuBe never really feels like work.
Jan’s journey with NuBe started whenever owner Ruth True found her by chance at a display sale at Western Bridge.
Jan: I was there because I’ve just always loved her pieces and been a shopper and just a junker - I love old pieces. I was kind of popping around and she said to Anne, and you know obviously to engage me, “See, this is the kind of person that we need for the store.” And I said, “I’ll work for the store!”
That’s just kind of how it started - it was just one of those quirky, funny things. I was in the store as a shopper, but not super frequently and so it was just one of those serendipities. I had never met Ruth before, but I was really excited to work for her. I think she’s such an innovator.
NuBe: What mostly inspires you with your own jewelry line and what you make?
Jan: Definitely nature. I’m working on a series right now that is using beautiful pieces of driftwood I found over in Chelan. They dropped the lake about 12 feet in the wintertime and so all the gorgeous, gray driftwood is on the shores and so I’ve been kind of scouring.
My line is really organic and so I love things like rock crystals. There’s a fellow here in town that goes out and digs them up in Eastern Washington and Central Oregon and I love shed antler pieces. I just love the more rough-cut elements that aren’t too precious and too serious.
I think growing up on a ranch was for sure the main impetus for me. I remember my sister and I going out into a little grove of trees and spending hours carving little dolls out of little bits of wood near Aspen, Colorado.
(One of Jan's original pieces.)
NuBe: Why do you think a store like NuBe is relevant?
Jan: I love the reaction from people that have not been into the store before. I love seeing the appreciation for what Ruth’s trying to do. It’s rather tricky to find vendors that not only make their product in the U.S., but their raw materials are made in the U.S. and I think it brings even more of an appreciation for what she’s trying to do.
There’s a growing army of people who really are looking for that. I love Ruth for pursuing it. She’s always about educating people.
NuBe: What are some of your favorite products?
Jan: Oh! I love the Liberty water bottles because I love his story of his machinery made in the U.S. and that he’s the only one making recycled aluminum bottles. I love that he’s gotten a zero-waste award. He’s obviously someone who’s right down the road of who Ruth is looking for.
I also love the story behind the Jack Daws’s pull-top necklace (more on that here). I think that’s really the essence of the store - those pieces that really resonate with someone because there’s a rich story behind it.
I love Niko’s shawls! I’ve got to plug Nick Penny again because he’s absolutely adorable! The linen scarf we carry with the granites, the knit is so big that he couldn’t find any needles so he carved them himself and he has a picture in his store where I met him at where he puts the one knitting needle between his legs and he works with the other one. They’re just so big he couldn’t maneuver them both.
We’re passionate about the products because we meet a lot of the people; we meet the vendors and there’s a great story about them and what they’re trying to do.
NuBe: Why do you think it’s important for people to use repurposed material?
Jan: I think it’s sort of the way nature is, just the circle of life. That’s very philosophical, but you know, there’s so much value to things.
It’s just a recognition that something has more than one life and can go a few rounds before it ends up in the landfill or recycled.
And I think it’s interesting when things have a story and have had a previous life. I think it forces and artist or a vendor to be creative when they’re working with more limited materials in that category. I think often of Jenny Jo and the folks that do the cashmere fingerless gloves. There’re times when they probably want to go out and buy or make exactly the knits they’d like to (use) when they’re working within the confines of what they can find. I think that does make you be more creative.
NuBe: What’s your favorite thing about being in the store? Is it working for Ruth or the products or the people?
Jan: Oh, it’s everything honestly. First of all, I love Ruth’s management style, how she grows people. Everybody just kind of has this niche that’s well beyond just selling. Ruth just sort of plugs good people in and then lets them go. I think you’ll see that the more jobs you have, it’s really rare to come across someone like that, that just expects people to excel - and people do because there is that leeway.
I love everybody that works here; the only sad thing is that I only overlap with Taylor occasionally. (There’s) a camaraderie that’s unusual from the little we work with each other.
NuBe: Have you seen Capitol Hill change a lot over the years?
Jan: We used to bring the kids in all the time to Broadway. There’s almost like little micro-neighborhoods in Capitol Hill. You know, Broadway is one unique brand of people and then I really think this area has a different feel. And of course, you get over to North Capitol Hill and that has an entirely different feeling, but I’m just loving getting to know all of it.
I just love the energy on the hill, that’s what’s made me start thinking about moving into town. I love the grittiness of Captiol Hill. Sometimes it’s hard, the discrepancy between the top end and then the lower end that we see out particularly on this street but I love that. You don’t see too much of the homeless element in the suburbs and it’s good to be confronted with that. You have to face it; you have to accept that that’s something you have to take responsibility for.
When I started, I was working the late Thursday shift and it was so fun because my husband would come in and pick me up after the shift and then we’d go to dinner. It was a good excuse to explore the restaurants around here. We’d go down to Poquitos, we went to Zoe’s once and the Comet. And then our daughter has introduced us to the Unicorn (laughs).