Did you know there are 676 possible two initial combinations in the alphabet? I didn't either. But "KK" told me so. "KK," or Katherine Kane by long, grew up in Connecticut, moved to NYC and has recently begun a new venture into the world of entrepreneurial ship by way of jewelry making. Katherine specializes in custom monograms from precious metals. She is doing something unlike many others and her business savvy mindset is bound to take her far."For as long as I can remember I had a passion for jewelry. At 7 or 8 I started collecting beads obsessively and began making jewelry for friends and family. My grandmother gave me a subscription to W Magazine when i was really young and I wanted all of the jewelry I saw. I knew my parents would never buy these things for me but I thought they would at least support me trying to learn how to make them."When Katherine was 11 her parents allowed her to take an adult metal smithing class at the local art center in Guilford, Connecticut. She absolutely loved it and her creative drive followed her into high school."I went to boarding school but spent my summers working for a fine jewelry store in Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard. It was so fun and I realized how much I loved selling jewelry."I asked Katherine to further explain her experience at boarding school. "My parents and brother had done it too. It was a great experience because it taught me to be very independent very young. Everything is on a schedule and your life is built around structure. I had to play a sport 2 out of 3 seasons which was weird because I was the artsy one. Overall, it helped me become self motivated. I didn't rely on my parents as rule enforcers."Katherine went from boarding school to college at Trinity in Connecticut, where she majored in English Literature and held internships in marketing and PR. By the time she graduated she knew her future would involve a combination of the 2 with jewelry. Fortunately, a school advisor connected Katherine with the CMO of Harry Winston (jewelry and watch designer) for an exploratory meeting."I met with this totally amazing and dynamic woman named Susy Korb. She was a huge inspiration and early role model for me. I ended up moving to New York right after college and working at Harry Winston for 5 years, first as manager for the wholesale market in north america, followed by a role in marketing intelligence. It was the first company I ever worked for and I was so attached, but by the end of 5 years I felt like it was time to see what else my career had to offer."Katherine decided to apply to graduate school. She also resumed metal smithing classes at night prior to leaving Harry Winston. Before she was accepted by Duke (and parted ways with Harry Winston) she had already made the first prototype of what would become her business. (Picture above: Katherine's first prototype)."I started drawing my initials out on paper. I ended up sketching them, tracing them out on copper, and cutting them out with a jewelers saw. I strung a chain through it and started wearing it. My friends and strangers kept asking me where I got it. When I got into Duke I already had thoughts of a jewelry business but I didnt want to start 'just another jewelry line' without a distinct business proposition and unique angle. I didn't exactly know what my next step would be but I knew an MBA was a right step to help me figure it out."At Duke, Katherine had the opportunity to participate in a pitch competition. She had to pitch a business idea to a crowd of 150 people and a panel of judges. She was one of the only ones venturing into the creative fashion world with a tangible product. The judges looked favorably upon her idea and Katherine was admitted to the entrepreneur program and was able to further develop her jewelry business."This was huge for me. It allowed me to build a team of students with all different backgrounds who wanted to work on the business plan and look into suppliers, etc. I also got sales from the audience I pitched my idea to! My network from the Duke business school is still a big sales driver for me." (Pictured above: Katherine's dog Juno with the 'j' mini pendant).A lot has evolved since Katherine made her first K Kane piece, from the style of her design to the production. Originally hand cut, her pieces are now laser cut for fluidity and design accuracy. She has different New York-based manufacturers who help with production, which can take up to 5 weeks. "I look at my designs more like a personal logo than a traditional monogram because I design based on how those particular letters look together. An 'L' with a 'C' looks totally different than with a 'D.' My product appeals to women who have a strong sense of identity because you are wearing your initials in a very loud and proud way. It tends to be a signature piece for a lot of my customers."Katherine is working on a portfolio with all possible 2 initial combinations (all 676 of them), but she rarely has to make the same piece twice. Any three letter custom orders are completely unique and originally designed. I was touched to hear of Katherine's latest project for a mother of three whose children requested their 3 initials be put on a pendant as a gift to her."I have been very busy, especially this holiday season, but it so worth it. It is so fulfilling to get touching letters or emails from customers who are so pleased with their pendants. The thing I love about New York is the freshness and newness. It's vital to my business and an incredible place for opportunity. The sky is the limit and I just hope people continue to see the value in special, custom made jewelry."Shop K Kane here and become a fan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All pictures of me taken by Alex Mouganis.