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Meet Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd of Beehive Handmade in BristolI

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd.

Sandra and Jim, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We’re a couple that was brought together by our love of the craft of metalsmithing, working with hand tools, and making meaningful things. This was back when we were in art school; back when the idea of trying to earn living selling things we made seemed practically impossible.

A few years later, while living in an old New England farmhouse we had an idea for a collection of metal kitchenware. We took our inspiration from the practical and beautiful vintage kitchenware that we found at flea markets and estate sales, and got to work designing a collection of cups, spoons, and utensils. When we took our first samples to the American Craft Council show that winter, we never could have imagined the incredible response that our collection received. Realizing that we couldn’t run a metalsmithing shop out of a farmhouse, we moved our studio to a 19th century mill in Fall River, MA and partnered with a generations old silversmithing company near Providence, RI to help with production. In 2014 we changed our name from Beehive Kitchenware to Beehive Handmade to reflect the expansion of our work into baby gifts, holiday ornaments, and jewelry. In 2015 we moved our studio to the historic harbor town of Bristol, RI.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No! First of all starting a manufacturing business, even a very small one, out of art school is going to be a pretty bumpy road unless you have investors or business partners who have the skills and financials that you lack. We have been lucky that people appreciate what we do and have received good press over the years. Over the nearly 20 years of running our business we have had several of our products knocked off and produced overseas, struggled to comply with new manufacturing regulations, and had to navigate a changing retail landscape. We figure if we’ve weathered those storms over the years, we are definitely in this for the long haul!

Please tell us about Beehive Handmade.
Jim (my husband) and I have been designing and making metal and ceramic kitchenware, housewares, holiday ornaments, and baby gifts together for almost 20 years. We make functional objects that are useful, decorative, and that hopefully tell a story. As craftspeople, our intent is to bridge the gap between traditional craft and contemporary design, by making everyday objects that are both heirloom quality and useful in daily life. One of our very first products was a set of heart shaped measuring spoons, which has become somewhat of an iconic design.

All our products are made from hand sculpted originals made by Jim and me, which are then molded and cast. We fabricate most of our original models using traditional jewelry and silversmithing techniques. Our work has been exhibited at the American Craft Museum, and featured in many publications such as Oprah, Better Homes and Gardens, Gourmet, and Country Living.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 500 Wood Street, building 21, Bristol, RI 02809
  • Website: beehivehandmade.com
  • Phone: 508-678-4335
  • Email: sandra@beehivehandmade.com
  • Instagram: @beehivehandmade
  • Facebook: beehivehandmade

Image Credit:
Beehive Handmade

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