It all began with a lot of frustration, a little metal washer, and the desire to enact change, show strength, and spread hope for those struggling with being different and living in our country during a difficult political time. Art focused on honesty, with no apologies for being bold, is Kristin Lien’s style. Lien is the creator of Candidly K Handmade.
“My items are definitely not for everyone, but that's where the 'Candidly’ in ‘Candidly K Handmade' comes in. My tagline is, ‘candid, honest, and outspoken products hand stamped by Kristin,’” says Lien, who lives in Woodbury.
Candidly K Handmade sells hand stamped metal pieces of art and jewelry. Lien’s first piece was created with the help of her husband, using a washer stamped with the simple yet powerful word “resist.” After posting this piece on social media, she got an outpouring of support from many people asking for more. She then began making others with similar empowering phrases, like “girl power,” “choose love” and be the change.” She’s donated some of the proceeds to organizations that matched closely to the intent behind the art, such as Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, YouthLink and Appetite for Change.
Only a few short months later, Lien quit her job and began making jewelry full time and selling it online at Etsy, Amazon and a website she created herself.
“Everything with my business has been a risk and a giant leap of faith, but I think it’s really important to chase your dreams, take risks and see where life takes you,” Lien says.
Her pieces are focused on encouraging, empowering and celebrating differences. The allure of metal stamping is that any words, phrases or designs can be stamped into the pieces, making them unique and personalized.
“I make stuff for the people who feel left out, or maybe different. I want to bring awareness to certain things and help people feel comfortable with who they are and what they are going through,” Lien says.
Although all of her pieces convey important messages about respect, acceptance and love, you can find variations on these themes in her different collections. For the die-hard Midwesterners, there’s a state collection, which features hearts on the state outline as well as some silly sayings on keychains—“Land of Long Goodbyes” and “Land of Hot Dish.” Lien also makes custom name, date and birthstone necklaces and key chains for birthdays, engagement or wedding gifts, and more. She even has what she calls her sassy and “sweary” collections, which include more adult themes that are often much cheekier.
“This is not your grandma's jewelry—although I have found quite a few grandmas who really appreciate my swear word pieces,” Lien says with a laugh.
Although Lien never formally studied art, she has always found herself drawn to creativity. The desire to begin metal stamping began after ordering a hand stamped necklace on Etsy to celebrate the birth of her daughter. After receiving the piece, she realized it could be a fun art form to try. Eight years later, after teaching herself with the aid of YouTube and Facebook, she finally found her true calling.
“I'd say the whole thing was quite accidental. I had a set of metal stamps in my closet for over four years before I ever even tried them out,” Lien says.
Woodbury neighbors can find her art in craft markets and several local shops, like Articulture in Minneapolis and Real Life Coffee & Yoga in St. Paul.
Part of her goal is to give back to organizations that share her mission to help those in need and support those who are different. In June, she donated $1 from every piece she sold from her PRIDE collection to OutFront Minnesota.
“I want my pieces to remind people that they are loved, valued, and important,” Lien says.