By: Emily Laput
Kate Marks, a New York native, has been working in the jewelry industry since she was 18 years old. From a young age, Kate knew she wanted to be a bench jeweler, which meant that she wanted to be hands-on in the jewelry design process by doing repairs, designing custom pieces, and using tools to create jewelry.
While there is no data about the demographic breakdown of the jewelry industry from that time, in 2020, 64% of bench jewelers in the US were male and only 34% were female. In 2010, 75% of bench jewelers were male and 25% were female. The percentage of female bench jewelers in the 1980s was most likely single digits - or even a decimal. Kate found her passion and, despite the obstacles, lived her dream. She was determined to achieve her ambitions.
Kate earned her Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts in Metalsmithing at the Premier Metalsmithing University. She later earned her GIA certifications while raising a family. During the early years of her career, she worked in mom and pop shops, major designers, and jewelry manufacturers.
In 1999, Kate decided to open her own jewelry business. Marks of Design has been located in Shelton for 23 years. She built the business from scratch and dedicated herself to pursuing her passion. Five years ago, Kate decided to move and expand her business to its current location on Bridgeport Ave in the Marketplace Plaza.
As a young woman and employee of Marks of Design, it’s empowering to see a successful woman in business. Kate’s grace, strength, and hard work motivates me to pursue my dreams and career goals because she shows me that it is possible.
To empower and highlight women making their mark, Kate partnered with the Valley Community Foundation (VCF) to start the Brilliant Female Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide funding to women, who are strong, ambitious and of all ages, with non-traditional roles/careers who may have set goals to be an entrepreneur or further their dreams/goals to get to where they need to be to achieve their goals. The fund will support women going into fields not typically populated by women. It may provide scholarships for education or materials/equipment needed for their education.
It’s because of people like Kate that we are able to give more opportunities to young women and allow them to thrive.
Congratulations to the Sisterhood of Strong Women!