The Art of Community: Artist built her business with community support, now bids goodbye

(Jackson, Wyo.) - For local artist Kari Johnson, Jackson Hole is more than a place, but a community that gave her the support to help her start her jewelry design business, AOS Metals (formerly Art of Simplicity). Next week, after 12 years in this community, she will leave to expand her business. Johnson grew up in northeast Pennsylvania. Years ago, she moved out here to work for a summer at the marina at Signal Mountain Lodge and chose to stay for the winter. Like many of us in Jackson Hole, she stayed long term. While in Jackson, Johnson began working with different metals and her hobby gradually evolved into a business. Not long after, she began selling her work on Wednesdays at the Jackson Hole People's Market. "The people there just really encouraged me to keep going," said Johnson. "I felt how much they loved my designs, which are simple designs in high quality metals."' [image: Inline image 3] *h/t AOS Metals / Pitchengine Communities* AOS Metals is focused on environmentally friendly practices. She uses Argentium Silver, which is recycled sterling sliver. She also sends back all her her scrap metal to the company to be recycled. "I try not to waste anything and I think that is where a lot of my creativity comes from," said Johnson. "If I am working on a piece and then make a mistake, I don't want to waste all of the work that I put into it, so it turns into something new." "Everybody always asks what my favorite thing to make is and that is a mistake, because that is where my creativity really takes over and a whole new line gets developed," she added. Now, after building her business in Jackson, she will expand it on the east coast. "I could stay in the Valley if I built up my online presence, but I love having that interaction with customers at fairs and festivals," she said. For Johnson's business, which focuses on art and craft fairs, being in a resort town like Jackson is challenging because of the short summer season and off seasons. "That is why I made the decision to go back to the east coast, where I can do these festivals almost every weekend and have that interaction with customers," said Johnson. "Speaking with customers is where a lot of my design concepts come from." Tonight from 4 - 6 p.m. at Snake River Brewery, Johnson and AOS Metals will hold its last Jackson show. Ten percent of all sales tonight will be donated to the Teton Valley Animal Shelter. "I really want to thank the valley and thank everyone who supported me. The support system here is incredible and the people of the Valley are the ones who really encouraged me to keep going," said Johnson. See more of Johnson's work on the AOS Metals Facebook page . *Feature Photo: Kari Johnson working in her booth. h/t Kari Johnson /