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Hidden Gems: Meet Jonnie Estes of Grey Theory Mill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonnie Estes.

Hi Jonnie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m the owner + maker behind Grey Theory Mill. GTM has evolved over the years from hand-painted shirts, sewn notebooks, and the occasional chalkboard sign to being a jewelry brand that is sold in brick & mortar boutiques across North America & Europe. It’s been an exciting 10+ years and I’ve been surprised, ecstatic, depressed and everything in between on this journey, but I’m sure happy to be on it! Ups-down-side to sides and all.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a smooth road for entrepreneurs, regardless of what is marketed at you.

It’s hard to remember all the struggles, but here is what I struggle with now a decade in:

– Consistent marketing (email + social media posting)

– Keeping up with content creation/switching gears to create the content that is trending

– Securing my supply chain

– Burn out (there’s ALWAYS something that I should be doing, but I’m getting better and minding my “shoulds”)

We’ve been impressed with Grey Theory Mill, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Grey Theory Mill carved out its place in the world w/tiny, stamped, snarky + sassy stud earrings. My bread and butter has bad words allllll over it, but salty sentiments aside, I aim to curate cohesive jewelry collections that merge simple, edgy, hypoallergenic & timeless design with high quality + ethically sourced materials at accessible price points.

During the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to make my online shop more of a one-stop shop! I did this by adding greeting cards from a few of my favorite maker friends and candles from fellow local San Diegan + all-around lovely human Caroline from 1502 Candle Co.

I’m most proud that I built this lovely & unexpected business.

If you asked me 15 years ago what I was going to be doing for a career, I would have answered with either: Art Therapist, Teacher, or Psychologist, not art entrepreneur…let alone jewelry maker.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
One of the reasons I am attracted to being a maker is that it is still very “old world” in a way.

Trends come and go, but when you focus on making things that are simple and more timeless, you can really focus on creating the best possible version of your products instead of keeping up with the Joneses.

All that being said, technology is always a beast to keep up with and I’d say the biggest shift & changes needed from makers (especially me) is staying on top of how to best connect with the people who are interested in our work. Whether that is boutique owners or the lovely customers who visit me at every in-town event.


  • Earrings $22 – $32
  • Necklaces $24- $34
  • Bracelets + Rings $18 – $34
  • Custom Stamped Jewelry $28 – $32
  • Gift Items + Cards $5.50 – $34

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Personal Photo credit: Jasmine Fitzwilliam, Let’s Frolic Together

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