Jody Coyote, a Northwest phenomenon
Background: Who is Jody Coyote? Jody has a larger-than-life presence in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where some say she lives a carefree existence amidst the tall forests, windswept beaches, and crystal-clean deserts of Oregon. Charged with creative enthusiasm, Jody adds her magic to the simple elegance of the jewelry that bears her name. Her mystique has an irresistible pull to those who hear the call, and is sustained by an ever-growing base of loyal and devoted customers. Marketing hype? Well, yes. The history of this designer of handmade free-spirited earrings is somewhat more prosaic.
Oregonian Gene Wolfson started selling his Hoop Town handmade earrings in 1973 at Saturday markets and craft fairs along the I-5 corridor from Portland to Eugene. He accumulated a client roster of boutique and gift shop owners, while John Haakanson, Hoop Town's first employee, set up earring display tables in front of local colleges. By 1980, their combined efforts brought in enough cash to start a factory and move out of retail into wholesale. Haakanson changed the name from Hoop Town to Jody Coyote, and the magic was born.
In 1984 the company reached $1 million in sales. There were still fewer than a dozen employees, but continued growth over the next five years led to the hiring of 40 more. Things were looking up for Jody Coyote and Gene Wolfson was looking to get out. An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) meant to transfer control of the company to employees ultimately failed. Wolfson was forced to return to take control of his creation. Jody Coyote posted its first loss in 1998 and bankruptcy loomed.
It took years to find a viable buyer to save Jody Coyote. Today, it is owned by private equity firm Leader Creek Partners under its Oak Creek Gifts umbrella.
From such humble craft fair beginnings, the company has grown to be a supplier to department stores, gift shops and greeting card chains such as Hallmark. More than 38 million pairs of earrings have been produced in the last 30 years. JC has 150 employees in its Eugene factory, crafting 60,000 pairs of earrings every week. A small portion of the work is outsourced to Bali, but most of the jewelry is made in the U.S. The company pays 100% of the medical and dental premiums for all of its employees, even the part-time workers.
In a single month, over 100 miles of silver wire and 300 pounds of sterling silver were used to create Jody Coyote jewelry.
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Skillful juxtaposition and hand assembly of many small parts creates the signature Jody Coyote look.
Jody Coyote products
From earrings, the company has expanded its line to offer bracelets and purses as well.
Jody Coyote earrings
Are known for carefree, whimsical, sometimes Asian-influenced designs, a wide variety can usually be found on eBay. The designs sometimes incorporate glass or semi-precious gemstone beads, brilliant colors fired onto metal and mixed metal motifs. Ear wires are sterling silver or 14k gold filled. (In seasonal collections ear wires are typically hypoallergenic surgical steel.)
Jody Coyote earrings are handcrafted with care by applying intense colors to metal with blowtorches, stamping to create unique textures and sculpting silver or gold wire into whimsical shapes.
Variegated colors combine with intricate textures.