Kristen here. If you’ve ever read a handful of the messages on our products and felt like there was a deeper story behind our brand, you’d be correct. I’d love to share the story of our origins with you. The Pressed brand was born in 2015 when I left my 11-year career in fashion retail to pursue a heart dream. I wasn’t entirely sure what the end result would be, but I knew I had a story to tell and a mission to fulfill. I also knew I had a life chapter to redeem.
I left that career with enough savings to live on for a few months and to help pay for Eric’s and my wedding. Let’s pause for a moment. I am your stereotypical first-born child. We don’t take risks. We calculate all outcomes. We know the end before we begin. So this was exceptionally out-of-character for me to do. BUT my Creator was stirring something up inside me and I knew it. I believe God never wastes our pain. He was making a message out of my mess.
Personally, I went through a crisis in my late 20’s that ripped away my identity. I had to find it again. It was a journey with struggle. In the midst of that crisis, I found myself drawn to jewelry with meaning. When I wore those pieces, their words reminded me of truths I needed to believe. They reminded me of simple things like who I was and what I enjoyed, and they reminded me of deeper truths found in Scripture like Isaiah 26:3 which says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
Every human has one thing in common. We all encounter bumps in the road. Challenges. Things that seem to be detours in our life stories. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says we are hard-pressed on every side. It also says we are perplexed but not in despair. Sometimes a guiding scripture or quote becomes what God uses to keep us from despair. It can be seen, spoken, or shared with us and it sticks. It pushes us on. It anchors us. It becomes our motto, of sorts. It provides hope. It became evidently clear that my mission was to create a line of jewelry inspired by these guiding truths.
Five months after I left my corporate job, Pressed was born. I chose the name “Pressed” for two reasons. It spoke to the art form used when making the hand-stamped (A.K.A. hand-pressed) jewelry, and also to the pressing times of life spoken of in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. My hope was that the jewelry I made would help others through their pressing seasons.
The original Pressed collection started with 8 hand-stamped jewelry designs. I took them to our local farmer’s market, hoping and praying I would sell just one item. To my surprise, I sold several more. It was enough to continue this journey and continue to see how God was going to use my story.
Two years after launching the jewelry brand, we added a line of screen-printed apparel designs with the same type of messages as the jewelry. With screen-printing, the ink is quite literally pressed through a screen onto the garment, so the name “Pressed” couldn’t be more fitting. The addition of the apparel line was when Eric started to take on a larger role in the brand. He had been my #1 cheerleader and M.V.R. (Most Valuable Roadie) until this point in the game. But when I verbalized the “big idea” for the apparel line, he wasted no time in owning the concept. With no prior screen-printing experience, he taught himself the ins and outs of that world (thanks, YouTube University). He researched what it would take to create a screenprint shop in our basement and presented a business proposal to me laying out all of the expenses. Remember—first-borns need lots of proof of concept. (He knows me so well.) I obviously jumped on board that train with him, and after a bit of a learning curve, Pressed Apparel was born.
Fast forward to today. Pressed now has a home on Grand Avenue in Spencer, IA. We call it our “Studio + Store”. It is where we make our products and where you can shop them in person. We also carry an ever-changing assortment of other inspirational, handcrafted, and give-back gifts, as well as other USA-made or ethically-made fashion apparel. Each item we carry in our shop is intentionally chosen, and we hope you feel that the instant you walk into the space. Read more about our Studio + Store here!
After the opening of our Studio+Store, we realized the Pressed product line-up wasn’t quite complete. We had dreams for one more product line (but didn’t have space for it in our home): a collection of letterpress greeting cards. Neither of us had ever printed anything on a letterpress, but we had such an incredibly strong vision for this product line. By some miracle, we found a 1913 Chandler & Price letterpress machine in a small town in MN, and by an even greater miracle, got all 2000+ pounds of it home!! In November of 2019 this dream became a reality with the launch of 10 “hand-pressed” greeting cards made on our antique press. The learning curve for letterpress has been quite steep, but the joy it brings is greater. We’ve only scratched the surface of this art form, so stay tuned! For more on the letterpress adventure, check out our blog posts here!
I’m so grateful for the work God is doing all around us. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to turn my darkest season into a life calling. To reflect on that transformation almost makes my head spin. Thank you, God, for every glorious bump in the road that led me here.