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Meet Carrie Minikel of The Paddle Project

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Minikel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been a maker and unable to limit myself to a medium. For my undergrad art degree, I studied metalsmithing, painting, sculpture and woodworking (along with a psychology degree). After undergrad, I held several jobs, one of which was as a jewelry studio assistant/production metalsmith.

I then went on to get my MFA in sculpture as that fit best with my wide interest in materials and processes. I continue to explore new methods and materials in my art making practice to best fit whatever idea I am working with. Alongside my fine art practice, I make jewelry and keep the Paddle Project alive and well.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think a creative independent career has inherent challenges. Sometimes it was hard to feel like being an artist was a valid choice, and sometimes it is hard to figure out how to sustain oneself, and the constant practice of being an artist. Both of these things have gotten easier with time.

Please tell us about The Paddle Project.
The Paddle Project was conceived when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A family friend and metalsmith responded to the news by making eight sterling silver paddle pendants for my mom to distribute to her loved ones.

The reference to being up the proverbial foul smelling creek made my mom laugh and having paddles instantly gave her comfort. These tiny pendants soon became formidable symbols of strength, connection, and support. The paddles gave our family a way to come together despite the distance that separated us. They gave us a way to accompany our mom and express our solidarity.

For my mom, the paddles were a powerful reminder of the people paddling with her when she could, and for her when she couldn’t. People began to ask where they could get one for someone in their life needing a support. It was clear this idea needed to be shared and that is when the Paddle Project was born. Today, the paddles are about more than breast cancer. They are about more than my mom and her loved ones. They have become a symbol of support and strength for many.

What are you most proud of as a company?
I’m proud of the quality of the pieces. They are cast in solid sterling silver, then come to my studio where I take each paddle through a 6 step finishing process. They are then sent off to a plater to either be fine silver plated to prevent tarnishing, or vermeil plated, which is an extra thick 24 karat gold plating.

I’m also proud that we donate 5% of profits to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, formerly the Breast Cancer Fund, which is a science-based advocacy organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.

What sets you apart from others?
While jewelry often carries memories of places or people, I think the intent of this project is really unique and can be a powerful reminder of strength and community support.

With geographical distances and fast-paced lives, it is sometimes hard to remember how connected we all are. I’m happy that the paddle project can be a reminder of that connectedness.

I regularly get notes from people expressing how much the paddle has meant to them while they navigated a tough time such as cancer, a loved one’s cancer, depression, anxiety, or heart surgery. That is a really unusual and satisfying aspect of this company.


  • A silver pendant on ribbon is $45. A silver pendant on beaded chain is $55

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Geoffrey Cunningham

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