By Ellen Ranta Olson
Photography by Aaron Heirtzler
Tucked a couple blocks back from Durango’s bustling Main Avenue, in the perfectly overgrown backyard of a historic home, is a small, light-filled studio full of leather, studs and stones. Here, Kris Hickcox spends hours designing and creating her line of chic leather cuffs, Serpentine.
Like so many good things in life, Serpentine was a bit of a happy accident. “Two years ago, I was teaching a class on creativity, and really trying to convince the students that your creative muscle, like all others, needs to be warmed up every day,” Hickcox says.
To provide a living example of how it really is possible to make time for your creative side on a daily basis, Hickcox started a blog where she committed to doing one illustration every day for a year. Six months into it, she started getting phone calls from people asking where they could buy the illustrations.
Wheel, meet motion.
“I came across the blog of a guy in LA who had a new technology for printing on leather—my initial thought was to do a limited-run line of handbags, so I started buying materials. It turns out that production for only 50 handbags is pretty impossible to find, so there I was with all this stuff,” she says. “Sitting in my kitchen one day, I just started cutting out pieces of leather, and thought, ‘this could make a cool bracelet.’”
From there, Hickcox became a self-taught leather- and metal-worker (“YouTube can teach you anything!”), who practiced what she preached: “I figured in all my free time between a full-time agency job (she’s the founder of Pool Creative) and raising two teenage daughters, I’ll just go ahead and start another business,” she laughs.
Fast forward two years, and Hickcox just had her first rock star moment—as in, a rock star was photographed wearing one of her pieces on the red carpet in June (Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland wore a Serpentine cuff to the I Heart Radio music awards).
Her one-of-kind pieces, which she describes as “perfectly imperfect,” can be found at shops across the Southwest and online at serpentinestudio.com.