Being resilient and a bit innovative has come in handy for Matilda Sink over the years.
The St. Regis resident reasoned, “I have always been able to do crafts to a point, I made quilts and clothes for my children when I didn’t have the money to buy them. I just used common sense to do a lot of things. I figured why can’t I make jewelry. So, I will just give it a try.”
That attempt has turned into her very own business. Sink said, “I started making jewelry for myself, because I got some earrings that infected my ears. As a kid I always saw my grandma and mother and aunts wear earrings and always wanted to have my ears pierced.”
Sink was born in Indiana, grew up in Minnesota, and has lived in many different places between there and Montana where she planted her roots. She’s had a handful of different careers in her life, as a CNA, housekeeper, night auditor, medical billing and coder, assistant manager at a gas station.
It was while working at the Town Pump in Superior where she met her partner David Walker, who drove semi trucks. They went out on a run together to Washington in some dicey weather, Sink recalled, “David brought me down off of Lookout Pass in a blizzard, I was freaked out and he was as cool as a cucumber.”
Together the couple with an intriguing background found a common interest and built Matilda and David’s Handmade Jewelry.
Walker who was born and raised in Iowa, comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. So, it probably runs in his blood.
After managing his own service master janitorial company, and a lawn and landscaping business, Walker was sidelined by some health issues. Later on, a serious heart attack led him to driving truck, and that’s what brought him to Montana.
Sink and Walker have had a lot of twists in turns in their lives, after divorces and remarriage for both, they each have three kids of their own, and lots of grandchildren between them all.
Sink expressed, “Life is an adventure itself, and I have met a lot of nice people along the way and some not so nice, but that’s anywhere in life.”
The unexpected venture of making her own jewelry has proven to be a blessing though.
In 2020 Sink and Walker took over Mineral County commodities program.
Walker explained, “Matilda started making jewelry as a hobby that year and we invested a substantial amount of time and energy in making jewelry. She does a very good job of designing and when she is stumped, she asks me to help in the designing area.”
They made up their own logo and business cards to share with new customers. They are proud to offer a customer satisfaction guarantee.
Sink added, “We tell people if anything breaks, call us and we will give you an address and to send it back and I’ll fix it or give your money back to you. If I can fix it, I will ship it back at no extra cost, I will stand by this.”
“Everyone who makes jewelry has their own way of doing things,” shared Sink. She orders stone for her jewelry from Arizona and Wyoming. Her jewelry has a lot of natural elements, and could be described as western or vintage.
Sink noted, “I get my bear claws from taxidermists and trappers. If I’m going to shoot something, I want to eat it, not kill for fun. I make earrings and necklaces only. I don’t make bracelets or rings. Rings are too many different sizes.”
The duo sells their handmade creations at local events and craft fairs. Sink said, “When I was at the Superior and Plains fair this year, I had people ask for certain things and I showed them all my stones and charms and animal supplies, they chose what they wanted and designed it.”
Whether its fulfilling special orders for customers or just making a new set of earrings with her own ideas, Sink finds the process soothing.
“Making jewelry is like making quilts to me, it’s relaxing and enjoyable. Mostly relaxing,” shared Sink. A new piece of jewelry can take upwards of a few hours to complete, depending on how complex the design is. She stated, “A lot of people don’t like heavy jewelry. I have had one piece take me three and half hours to make, that was a necklace and earrings.”
Due to a skin allergy Sink has learned that she has to be particular with her materials. She said, “I’m allergic to gold and can’t wear it. The nickel plate will come off in your ear, the metal backing will scrape the earring and the metal will get in your ear, when you pull the earring out of your ear at the end of day or to change them.”
Because of that she uses silicone backs, and surgical steel for metal components on their earrings. Sink added, “There are people out there allergic to all types of metals and plastics. I order all my earring posts, hooks and hoops, and just learned how to make my own hoops. I buy silver when it isn’t expensive, otherwise I don’t.”
They always keep a wide variety of stones and beads available to make unique necklaces and earrings.
Sink said, “Because not everyone likes the same thing. I make patterns that look really good and I think will be different to people. I try not to make the same thing, but sometimes you get a few people who want the same thing, that’s why we take pictures of all the jewelry.”
Walker and Sink have sold their jewelry to customers as far away as, Oregon, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Florida and Ohio.
Their biggest order yet was to a client in Texas with a $200 mail order. At the beginning they sold from a vendor booth at the Flea Market in St. Regis, now they post their products on their facebook page and sell to people near and far.
In the coming months Sink and Walker will sell their latest handiworks at the annual Christmas bazaar at the St. Regis Community Center, and on October 16 at a craft fair at the 1776 Club in Superior.
As business carries on, what they sell is invested right back into their company. Sink noted, “Everything that we make goes to pay for the next spot and back into the jewelry, and signs on our truck and cards with our phone numbers.”
“Bottom line is…. David and I feel a happy customer is a repeat customer and a repeat customer brings more customers,” expressed Sink.