Small doesn’t have to mean insignificant. Just ask Fort Worth design entrepreneur Marcie Finney Ditto, whose new Mustard Seed Jewelry line is set to become the next big thing.
Ditto chose the name Mustard Seed Jewelry for obvious reasons: Every signature piece contains countless numbers of the ocher-hued spheres, all painstakingly hand-placed inside glimmering disks that form the base of her crystal- and stone-studded earrings, bracelets, pendant necklaces and more. It’s a unique deign element that adds both dimension and subtle color to each handcrafted piece.
But those with a spiritual side will recognize that there’s an additional significance to this seed.
The mustard seed is considered by many to be a symbol of faith, and a biblical parable teaches that just a small amount of it — an amount no bigger than a tiny mustard seed — can be more than enough to move a mountain.
The mustard seed is considered by many to be a symbol of faith, and a biblical parable teaches that just a small amount of it — an amount no bigger than a tiny mustard seed — can be more than enough to move a mountain. Or in Ditto’s case, to achieve her dream of building a jewelry business that’s equal parts aesthetics and inspiration.
Ditto didn’t start off in the jewelry business. After graduating from the University of North Texas with a design degree, she moved to Denver and took a job in graphic design for a major homebuilder. But her native Texas called, so she returned, settling in Austin and launching her own graphic design business. It was during this time that she felt the pull toward creating jewelry.
The notion wasn’t completely out of the blue. Her grandfather, Wilson Ramage, had been a renowned artist and also crafted jewelry. Although Ramage died when Ditto was in fifth grade, she cherished the still-vivid memories of accompanying him to gem and mineral shows.
In 2009, she launched a company called Seeds for Goodness that incorporated a variety of organic seeds across six collections. It was successful even before its official launch: Aveda, the international eco-conscious beauty and lifestyle company, saw one of Ditto’s prototypes and placed an order for 2,000 pieces on the spot.
But it was always the mustard-seed pieces that Ditto felt most personally connected to (and that sold the best). She kept this in mind as life took her in a direction that bent away from the jewelry business. Over the next six years, she got married, moved to Fort Worth and started a family.
In fall 2015, she decided the time was right to jump back into jewelry. She narrowed her focus to only the mustard-seed pieces, and again, success was instant.
Ditto handcrafts each piece from mustard seeds ethically sourced from Ecuador, stones from India and U.S.-made recycled metal plated in either 24-karat gold or sterling silver.
“The first day I was on Facebook, I had 20 people asking to buy pieces,” she recalls, and the past year, she says, has been a “wild ride.”
Ditto handcrafts each piece from mustard seeds ethically sourced from Ecuador, stones from India and U.S.-made recycled metal plated in either 24-karat gold or sterling silver. Pieces are available online through the Mustard Seed Jewelry website and at The Woodhouse Day Spa in Fort Worth.
She also posts limited-edition pieces on the Mustard Seed Jewelry Facebook and Instagram pages almost every day. These social media outlets, she says, “are a coveted resource for people who want to by a piece that has more rarity.”
But it’s the trunk shows Ditto enjoys the most. Here she can personally connect with her customers about the jewelry and the meaning behind the brand.
She also brings her selection of limited-edition treasures to these events. Often, these trunk shows happen in conjunction with a charity event — Ditto donates up to 30 percent of pop-up profits to the hosting nonprofit — which she says gives her an even greater chance to give back.
It’s about faith, goodness and giving back.
Marcie Finney Ditto
“I have always been a service-driven person,” she says. “It’s always been my intention to use my hands, my gifts and my heart to help other people.”
In the coming months, Ditto plans to expand her custom business, designing original pieces and also working with clients to recast vintage pieces. She’s also going to expand into fine jewelry, using precious metals and stones.
Soon, she’ll also have a dedicated studio: Work is set to begin to convert a back house of her Ryan Place home into a full-fledged workshop.
What she doesn’t want to do is expand to the point where she loses the human touch or the authenticity of her inspirational message.
“I always want my jewelry to be fun and colorful and expressive, but the base is always the mustard seed,” she says. “It’s about faith, goodness and giving back.”
Every purchase from Mustard Seed Jewelry comes in a glossy turquoise gift bag brimming with extras, all of which were specially designed by Marcie Finney Ditto to underscore the message and enhance the meaning of the brand.
Seed cash: Into a tiny envelope, Ditto tucks two $1 bills drawn from her personal bank account along with a printed card instructing the holder to give away the money through a random act of kindness. Why? It’s all related to the big potential of something small. Ditto includes an email address on the note to share stories of how this little bit of money made a difference in the life of a stranger, and she estimates she’s received nearly 1,000 stories, from brightening a stranger’s day with a cup of coffee to helping a struggling shopper make up a shortfall at the grocery-store checkout. “You’d be surprised to see how powerful 2 dollars can be,” she says.
Notecards: Ditto designed the notecard set that’s included with every purchase, and each one is printed with an uplifting message that Ditto penned herself. The hope, she says, is to promote the kind of authentic connection as only the almost-lost art of letter-writing can do.