«I buy everything and don’t take anything on consignment,» says Paul Schneider who founded the Twist boutique in Portland along with Lauren Eulau, and recently opened a second location in Seattle. Schneider always puts himself in the shoes of the artist who makes a living with his or her hands. «We were artists for so long, we really feel the pain of how hard it is to make your living by making things. It’s not easy and especially not if you are working with very expensive materials. And we just feel it’s our responsibility to share the risk. It’s immoral to say that the jeweler takes all the risk and the store owner or the website or whatever only pays for it if it sells. And if they’re selling off Instagram and are selling directly to customers that found the work at Twist online and they don’t route the sale back to the store, then that’s a problem too. The respect goes both ways. You can’t say I want you to buy my work, and then I’m going down to Instagram and selling directly to your customers. We work with more than 100 designers, 80% are from the U.S. and the rest is European with a small percent from Japan. We have some in India too. We are more like art curators and we’re more like artists ourselves. So, we’re susceptible to trends but they’re really not a focus for us. We like to evolve day after day, and even when we do research, we focus on the individual, the personal. Obviously, we are not a non-profit association. We also think about business, but we have a very strong commitment to the people we work with. If you spend some time on our website, you’ll see we really like very natural looks and that we’re not very good at “big,” we’re not very good at “shiny and bright.” Everything is fairly understated, which really fits Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
One of our biggest, most popular and most successful lines is Anaconda, by Monica Rossi from Milan. And we sell her very, very well. We don’t care where the jewelry comes from, we are not looking for local, we’re just looking for things we like. But the thing is that we don’t buy from big companies, we don’t buy from big manufacturers and we need a human being to deal with and a personal point of view, and it needs to relate to us and subsequently to our customers. On our platform twistonline.com, we have all of the same jewels that we have in store. We talk about people as well as jewels and materials. That’s why we’ve got these videos on our site right now. They are little slices of the lives of the people whose work we sell.»