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Nettie Kent

“I always thought I would be a painter,” says Nettie Kent, who spent her childhood in Martha’s Vineyard hanging around her artist dad’s studio, content for hours with her brushes. When the time came, Nettie enrolled at Hampshire College for studio art and creative writing. “See, I also fancied myself a poet—I’m in love with Frank O’Hara,” she explains. “I was still painting, but I felt my attention beginning to drift. I was always getting in trouble for using my hands.” She dropped out and hopscotched around the globe: to Mexico for ceramics and painting, back to Hampshire for public art, to Italy for frescos, and then, in 2004, to New York.

“I was laying around my dad’s friend’s apartment, moaning and groaning about the plight of being 22, and she marched me over to meet jeweler and sculptor, Jill Platner,” Nettie says. The very next day, she started working for Jill, and she was hooked—instantly.

She escaped back to the Vineyard in 2008, where she started to make her own pieces on the side, like a ring carved to look like a mermaid tail, but didn’t last long there: Two years later, she was in NYC once again, with gigs with Pamela Love, Philip Crangi, and, once again, Jill. “I was too busy working three jobs and sending my own line to stores. So I left each job one at a time, and, by the time I was unemployed, I didn’t even notice because I was so busy filling orders for my own work,” says the jeweler, who made things official and established her namesake line in 2010. “It was all trial and error,” she notes. “I nearly burned my house down with a torch a few times before I found my way.” —alisha prakash