St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, La Grange, Texas
Artist/jewelry designer 

I pray that no matter how and where you were raised, and no matter your race or religion, we can have open minds to understand and accept each other and learn to care for all human beings. 

I first became interested in jewelry design when I was in college. My minor at Texas State University (San Marcos) was art. I took my first jewelry class there and fell in love with it. My career path took me in a different direction until 1995 when my family moved back to my hometown of La Grange, Texas, where my wife, Janet, and I purchased Schmidt Jewelry, our family business. That was the beginning of me using the knowledge from my college jewelry-making days. With some assistance on basic skills from my dad and incorporating new creative ideas I had, Richard Schmidt Jewelry Design was born. After that, most everything I’ve learned is by trial and error. I’m thankful every day and blessed to be able to do what I love and to work with my wife, son and daughter. 

I find grace in the people I spend time with and create memories with because I can feel God’s love through them.  

I created a special piece of jewelry with the proceeds going to Hurricane Harvey relief because the day after the flood in La Grange, our family went to areas of town that had been hardest hit and it was overwhelming. After helping for a few days, I thought there had to be another way to help. Janet and I thought designing an affordable piece of jewelry and dedicating it to Hurricane Harvey relief would be the best way for us to contribute. Our entire staff pitched in by giving their time to make this project happen. We were blown away by the number of people across the U.S. who purchased the “Harvey Necklace.” We were able to give 100 percent of the sales to the relief efforts, and we raised more than $20,000 to help rebuild our wonderful community.  

I believe God gives everyone gifts and sometimes it takes awhile to find those gifts or talents. But when you do recognize what you have been given, you have to act on it.  

Having my jewelry sold in several states across the country and worn by celebrities is humbling. It’s sometimes crazy for me to think about how sought after my jewelry is. I remember the first time I saw someone wearing a piece of jewelry I created. I didn’t know her, where she was from or how she got it. It’s a strange and exciting feeling all at the same time. Even though it has been 20 years since then, it still thrills me to see someone I don’t know enjoying my jewelry. One of my most memorable moments was when Domenico Dolce of Dolce and Gabbana visited my gallery and purchased a cross pendant.  

I believe God gives everyone gifts and sometimes it takes awhile to find those gifts or talents. But when you do recognize what you have been given, you have to act on it.

It’s important for me to be active in my congregation to give back as much as I can, when I can. For about 10 years I helped sponsor the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) and taught Sunday school. Some of my best church memories are of going to youth gatherings and leading LYO Wednesdays. I found that if you just really listen and give teenagers respect, they will give all that right back.  

I incorporate Christian elements into some of my designs because it’s my way of witnessing. When I first started making my jewelry collection, it was predominately crosses. I now have many different looks and collections, but the foundation is still Christian-based. 

I’m a Lutheran, and I try to be the best person I can, treat others the way I want to be treated, try to recognize the best in people, and try to be patient and kind.

My favorite Bible story is the birth of Jesus because it’s what it’s all about. As a young kid and an adult, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. 

People are surprised that I worked in the fur fashion industry for 12 years. 

I find inspiration from my faith to live every day of my life as a Christian.  

I believe that at some point in your life you must take the gifts God has given you and act on them. You may not know what these gifts are at first, but as you travel the paths of life, they will be revealed. One of my favorite songs is “This Is Your Life” by Switchfoot. One of the lyrics is “This is your life, are you who you want to be?”—I believe this is a great way to live every aspect of your life.  

I believe art is truly in the eye of the beholder. Everyone’s interpretation of art is different and that’s what makes it so great.

Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is a content editor of Living Lutheran.

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