Today we’d like to introduce you to Judie Raiford.
Midtown Atlanta native, Judie Raiford, started as a full-time gold/silversmith in 1970 after apprenticing under jeweler Ben Douglas. In 1974, she joined Walter and Julia Glenn at Geode Ltd., the first jewelry gallery in the southeast, and remained their top seller for 22 years. In 1976, she moved to Roswell, a small town of 5,000 people, where she renovated an 1810 log cabin and tried her hand at farming and raising pigs, milk goats and chickens. Roswell grew and expanded so fast that in 1996, she opened Raiford Gallery in a 9,000-square foot building she built on Canton Street. Award-winning Raiford Gallery represents over 400 artists with the very best in jewelry, painting, sculpture, furniture, glass, clay and wood.
When asked how she got into jewelry, Judie said, “The 1960’s were ending and I realized sex, drugs, and rock and roll was not a career choice. I tripped over my own feet and fell into a jewelry studio. I stayed and it’s still fun.”
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
‘If you build, it they will come” only works in the movies. Canton Street had seen very little retail and getting known was not easy. Raiford Gallery had only been open a few months when someone from Home Depot came in and saw the Christmas ornament display tree I had constructed from leftover copper plumbing pipe and electrical wiring. When quizzed about the unusual use of materials, I sheepishly admitted that money was tight and she had built it, and the sign frames all over the gallery, with what I had in the basement after her building was finished – and they had come from Home Depot. Home Depot wouldn’t know but they saved my business. They put me on TV and then sent me on Saturday mornings to their stores to demonstrate some alternative uses for their materials. It didn’t hurt to have a woman using a torch with ease! Home Depot was one of the first companies in the traditional male industries to realize what a strong and growing female client base they had.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Raiford Gallery – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Raiford Gallery is not a traditional gallery. Galleries are labeled in the industry as craft (wearable or functional only) or white box (fine art painting and sculpture only). I’ve always been annoyed by the artificial line between art and craft. I built my own gallery so I could erase that line. We have created an experience here of artists who revel in their art instead of suffering for their art. The clients immediately respond to the fun and passion of all handmade objects.
This is the 21st year, and although Raiford Gallery is well-known for gold and silver jewelry, it has become The Place to take out-of-town guests and shop for the gift that will never be forgotten. They can find the perfect handmade brie baker, mug, coffee table, painting and even toilet paper holder! It’s where people come to celebrate occasions and to just celebrate themselves. It’s where the staff really helps to find the exact right thing and stay in budget. It’s where emerging artists come for mentoring sessions and business advice.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Keep going and keep growing!
- From under $10 to over $10,000
- Address: 1169 Canton Street
Roswell, Georgia 30075
- Website: www.RaifordGallery.com
- Phone: 770-645-2050
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: raifordgallery
- Facebook: Raiford Gallery and Judie Raiford
- Yelp: Raiford Galley