Meet The Local Artist: Risa Regory of Amaree & Reese

 

In 2009, Risa Regory’s co-worker came to work one day wearing a pair of earrings she had made herself. Inspired, Risa went straight to the bead store and gathered the supplies to try her hand at making jewelry. For the first time she realized, “I can do this myself!” Risa says. That first pair of earrings turned into Amaree & Reese, a full line of jewelry made in Portland Oregon. Amaree & Reese combines brass, sterling, and semi-precious gemstones with hand stamped, crafted, and cut shapes. Risa works to find that fragile balance between organic, swooping lines and heavier geometric shapes. We’d say she’s hitting the mark.


 

Earrings from the “Essential Collection” by Amaree & Reese. Brass, Sterling and Turquoise.


In the beginning, Risa just made jewelry for herself. Not long after she started wearing her pieces to work, she began getting her first orders from admiring co-workers. Once she realized there was an audience for her work, she slowly began producing more and more. She experimented with new designs, metals, shapes, stones and techniques, figuring out what worked, what didn’t, what people liked, and what she liked designing. Risa learned as she went, and her mistakes and successes were a part of the process; Amaree & Reese has developed from them.

Amaree & Reese has grown quickly in the last few years, and Risa is now busier than she can keep up with. For Risa, success isn’t the “big stuff.” Her goal is to stay local, grow her business and make a little bit more than what she needs to survive. “It’s not about money,” she says, “It’s about replacing my day job with a little bit extra.” It’s about doing what she loves and making a living doing it. Ultimately, Risa’s dream is to have a studio that doubles as a storefront, a few employees to help her keep up with orders, and maybe a little help from her granddaughter, Amaree, for whom the line is named.

The namesakes for Amaree (Left) and Reese (Right) at a craft show.


Risa has been part of the Portland community for a long time. She was born and raised in North Portland, and she has witnessed up-close the changes that have taken place over the years. Risa watched as the boarded up shops along NE Killingsworth turned into small boutiques who now carry her work, including Shipwreck and Green Haus.

Risa now lives with her husband in St. Johns. She makes her jewelry in a studio above her house while listening to 70’s classics (think The Police, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Franks) and her husband’s foot steps thumping up the stairs to her studio (to chat) and back down (when she kicks him out so she can get back to work.)

What does she think of the changes to the neighborhood? She’s excited about them. Her work is now featured in 10 of those little boutiques that have popped up around Portland, and her goal is to make it into 100 stores in the next year or two.


Necklaces by Amaree & Reese. Stamped and Hammered Brass, Turquoise.


Besides a natural knack for design and the tenacity it takes to take a leap and start your own business, Amaree & Reese benefits from Risa’s ability to collaborate with other artists. As we talked, it became clear that Risa has learned from, taught, and collaborated with many other Portland makers. Some of her favorite local designers (and the pieces you’ll find her wearing when she isn’t wearing her own designs) are A Tea Leaf, Bohemian Salt, LaCreate Designs, and Luna Sol.

If you ever have the chance to meet Risa in person, I encourage you to stop and say hello. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I would also recommend following her on Instagram to see what she is working on, upcoming craft shows, and pictures of her two, adorable granddaughters. She’s also working on a website and an etsy shop, so stay tuned for more ways to buy her pieces online. Currently, you can find her jewelry locally at, Button Consignment, Tender Loving Empire, Shipwreck, Green Haus, and My Girlfriend’s Closet, among several others.


Earrings from the “Eclectic Soul Collection” by Amaree & Reese. Brass, Oxidized Brass, Turquoise and Sterling.