In celebration of National Small Business Week (April 29th – May 5th) we sat down with five members from Hera Hub locations across the world to hear about their story, passions, impact, and businesses.
The second member featured in our interview series is Protein Crystallographer and Silvery Jewelry Designer, Karin Valegård. She is the founder of Valegård Designs, where she manufactures unique science inspired silver jewelry. Her background as a 3D protein structure research and her experience as a silversmith igniting her idea to merge her two loves together. She recently became a member of Hera Hub Sweden.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I’ve worked for many years as a researcher in structural biology at Uppsala University, Sweden, studying protein shapes in three dimensions. Protein structures have always fascinated me, and their schematic shapes are ornaments in their own right. In my spare time, I have also worked as a silversmith.
I combine my knowledge of protein structures with silversmithing making protein and DNA molecules in thin silver thread. The first silver protein jewelry I gave to my Ph.D. student on her doctoral dissertation. I have continued to make different kinds of proteins. From myoglobin, the first protein structure determined at the end of the 1950s, until bacteriorhodopsin, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017.
Who are your clients and what do you do for them?
My customers are those who are passionate about science. Protein structures can be so wonderful and this is my chance to show them to the world and open other people’s eyes. I’ve been selling my silver creations at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm and Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala since 2014. It’s a perfect piece of silver jewelry for somebody looking for something unique.
What are your business’ values? How do they align with your personal values?
I want to make real, correct protein jewelry that is beautiful at the same time. My customers appreciate that the shape of my silver proteins is in line with reality.
How/Why did you choose your business name?
Valegård Design design was an obvious choice.
What do you love most about your work?
I have loved the feedback I’ve received from customers some of those include Nobel Prize winners.
What is the biggest challenge in running your own business?
The biggest challenge right now is marketing. To get new resellers. To show the world that my science-inspired jewelry exist.
What are your/your business’ goals for the future?
My goal is to sell my jewelry outside Europe’s borders.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid – follow your heart and do what you always dreamed about.
This year the Small Business Administration will be hosting a FREE 3-Day Virtual Conference that is open to the public. Begins Tuesday, May 1st. More info!