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@Kyle_va_Johnson

Kyle grew up in Petersburg, Va with his younger brother and parents. Kyle was conceived by two talented visionaries. His Father was an Architect and Civil Engineer, and his mother is an Abstract Artist. Kyle described his childhood as an ordinary suburbian kid. He described his routine, “Went to school, did your homework. I’d skateboarded all day, I built stuff all day, and I dreamed all day and umm I went to sleep. Broke a few windows playing baseball in the street, woke up and did it all over again.” Kyle is and was one of my best friends growing up. I can attest to his schedule, because most times I was right there with him. To my memory, Legos, tools, crate forts, and tree houses, Kyle has always been skilled with his hands. One thing I’ve always admired about Kyle, and maybe we share, is that we both lost a parent growing up, he has never been afraid to go against the grain, and he uses his Pain as Fuel. Kyle has never allowed himself to become controlled by anyone else’s machine. Which is why it’s no surprise his brand is titled, “The UnBolted.”

Kyle and I met up at his studio in Baltimore, MD. We chopped about family and caught each other up on the latest. It was great to see him in his work environment. There was all types of stones, tools, and machinery throughout the room. I was attentively fascinated with the unfamiliar gadgets and the true “lab” feel of the studio. I actually pulled out my laptop and got some work done in there myself. The creative energies in that Lab were too strong for me to pass up. Kyle is a Goldsmith and has also spent many years working with his hands as a skilled mechanic. He’s in the process of purchasing his own garage for an auto-restoration project. His first project will be a 1951 Cadillac. As a Goldsmith, Kyle has made custom pieces for the Travel TribeGreek Letter Organization, recording artists, and tons of customers. His revolutionary perspectives have been the fuel for some extraordinary hand crafted jewelry pieces. Kyle is humble, but his brand has been speaking very loud. Proud to feature a young craftsman in this week’s #ShineHard Conversation.

 

What is your passion and when did you know?

Kyle: My passion, man, to sum it all up is just to enjoy what I’m doing. Whatever makes me happy, whatever makes me smile. Art has always been something I wanted to do. Art and mechanics. I mean since I was a kid, like 5 years old, I’ve always loved working with my hands. I always wanted to create something. Whatever median that it was in, creating something just made me happy. From Lego’s to building tree houses, to making jewelry, to building cars. I was happy with my hands. When you work on something and you see it, and you built it from concept to reality with just the hands that you have, it’s just amazing.

Who did you look up to growing up?

Kyle: Growing up? My dad. My mom. My peers, my friends. They were basically like family. I didn’t really have that TV super hero or anything like that. It was always my dad, ya know. Watching him build a family. Watching my mother as an abstract artist. Once pops passed, watching her literally take an art form that she would do in the garage and turn that into something that can raise a family.

Work wise, I went to Europe last July, but it wasn’t just to say I went. I went to study the architecture. I was so inspired that I made 3 rings when I got back. The ideas came to me while I was in Barcelona, Spain. I am inspired by European architect Antonio Gaudi. He’s really awesome. Also, I’m a big fan of Leonardo da Vinci. Once again it comes back to people who just have these completely off the wall minds. He was able to view structures, inside and out, just by closing his eyes. Those are two of my personal inspirations.

How did you get started with the Unbolted?

KyleThe Unbolted started three years ago. I’ve always wanted to create a brand of my own. I dipped and dabbled in a lot of different things. From screen printing to making garments, and just couldn’t really get it together. Didn’t really understand what could be transformative for me. I was sitting around and watching a documentary and they were talking about homeless people. It’s funny how we perceive people through how they dress and what they’re wearing. We judge a book by it’s cover and never really know the contents of that book. They were dressing these people in nice garments and they were getting jobs like right away. I started getting into jewelry because I liked that concept. You could put a piece on and it could boost your confidence, boost your image. You know, jewelry is an adornment.

My little brother went over to Afganistan for the Marines. The Marines gives you this braided bracelet that’s made out of this cord called 50/50, it’s like a parachute cord. It serves a few different purposes. A lot of the soldiers give the bracelet to their families as a promise that they’ll be back. I was wearing his bracelet for a long time while he was gone. I was out here in Baltimore and people kept asking, “How much? How much?” of course I couldn’t sell it. But then, I picked up some leather and just started braiding. Just coming up with weird ideas and selling them for $50 here and there. and then I started thinking, “Ok what can I do next?” so I picked up a piece of wax and carved and carved until it became my first ring. I got it casted, I polished it and I loved it. So I started doing it again… I was able to link up with a Master Goldsmith named Stephen Page out here in Baltimore. He pretty much opened his arms to me. He said, “My studio is your studio. I’ll teach you everything I know. You do a little work for me and then the studio is yours.” Everyday since, I’ve been in there day in and day out learning my craft.

What does the title “UnBolted” mean to you?

KyleThe Unbolted name comes from me being a mechanic and the word “Unbolted” is a way of saying unbolt yourself from this whole systematic, robotic lifestyle that we as people are starting to live. Your world doesn’t stop at Instagram. There’s so much creativity in the world and this is my way of showing that.

What’s your ultimate goal as a Goldsmith?

Kyle: To become a Master Goldsmith. To continue to design, man, and get it out there. Get it to the masses. Get it international. Let them see that it’s just something that I love. Something that moves me. It’s really not to make all this money. To show that craftsmanship went into this and to showcase that.

What type of things motivate you to succeed?

Kyle: My family, man. Both of my brothers. I just got a nephew that was just born. I’m so stoked about that. It just shows me life continues to roll over, it continues moving. Those things keep me pushing. When I’m out and about and someone says, “I like what you’re doing! Maybe I will try something different.” THAT pushes me.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your career thus far?

Kyle: I was told a long time ago that if you keep your head down long enough, right… You can do all these worldly things. If you just stay consistent and you stay persistent with what you’re doing, you will be so surprised with how far you’ve gotten once you lift up your head. I think my biggest challenge is keeping my head down and staying rooted. Staying goal driven and straight arrow on what needs to be done. It’s so many distractions that society and people will throw at you. Everybody says, “Keep your head up, Keep moving.” That’s cool, that’s more of a stay proud, stay positive. I’m with that, but I keep it down to ignore the negativity. Ignore the distractions and stay focused.

What type of jewelry pieces do you enjoy creating the most?

Kyle: Right now I’m on a super ring fad. I’m loving rings. It’s funny because I have so many rings that I’ve created, but I only wear like one a day. I’m working on some really cool pieces for the winter; pocket watches, etc. But the thing about rings is that you’re more apt to fall asleep with a ring on your finger than anything else. Rings stay with you more often for some reason. I love making heirloom quality work, something that you can pass down.

Tell me about a life experiences that’s inspired you..?

Kyle: Watching my mother do what she does now. That was a life experience that inspired me. I hate to sound so cliche, but she turned nothing into something. She’s an Art Therapist right now. When my pops passed, watching her transform abstract art in all forms of paintings and turn it into an actual career to raise three children, ya know? And at the time my father passed, my mother was pregnant. So that was just another new born and watching her literally say, “You know what, I gotta raise these kids. Let me do what I know best.” Seeing her success as she now owns her own therapy clinic, that’s just amazing. That showed me if you love what you do and you feel strong enough to do it, it WILL make a way for you to do it. You just gotta believe in what you do. Anything is possible.

What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?

Kyle: There’s no niche of anybody’s own. There’s nothing that’s just personal anymore. Everything is so publicized. When you publicize everything then you don’t have time to keep anything private. Personally, I believe it’s become such a disease and now we have so many “cookie cutters.” My work is just about creating great work and creating yourself. People talk about stepping outside of the box; I’d rather stay inside of the box and tear the walls down.

What accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?

Kyle: Starting my own business. That was a big accomplishment. Like I said, I dipped and dabbled in so many things that I wanted to do, but sticking with this one… I’ve always loved art. I stayed true and tried to this right here. To continue pushing forward, ya know? It kinda sucked in the beginning, but to see the fruits of it now is just a great thing. I came into this business blind and I’m very proud of how far it’s gotten in two years.

What’s the #1 factor behind your success?

Kyle: Consistency and teamwork. My partner Will has allowed me to do what I need to do as a goldsmith. Just create. Him handling the operation side of things has been a huge lift for our brand. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do without the structure and organization he brings.

What Advice would you give young Jewelers that aspire to do what you’re doing?

Kyle: One, like I said, Consistency. And really open your mind, man, just to free it. Just sit down with yourself and really explore everything. Take all factors of what inspires you or maybe even things that you hate and create it into a great form. It’s easy to sit and do nothing. It’s easy to buy half built pieces, throw stones in it, and call it your piece. But to really put your all into something, you gotta sit down and dissect everything that’s inspired you and put it into your art work.

Johnny: That’s so 100. Keep your head down and work your plan. Disciplined Consistency is the Hidden Gem. Keep Shining Brother and welcome to the @ShineHardFamily.

 

Interested in learning more or connecting with Kyle?

Instagram: @TheUnBolted

Email: Info@TheUnBolted.com

www.theunbolted.com