By Sara Strickroot
Never-before business owners Duncan Stephenson ’13 and Luke Rayson ’11 opened up metalsmith company Horn & Heel as a way to expose people to the world of art and design by showcasing their skills and craftsmanship.
“We wanted to create something honest that we could both complement each other’s craft and utilize our skills to make something great. We wanted it to be a transparent collaboration that communicates Duncan’s aesthetic as an artist in the most truthful way,” Rayson says.
Stephenson is the metalsmith who designs and forges knives (Utilities), makes jewelry (Adornments) and crafts other metal goods (Remnants).
Rayson covers the visual aspect of the company’s brand. He is the director of visual communication and photography assets. He uses his talents to give Horn & Heel its visual identity and showcase the company’s uniqueness.
The company’s convenient size and specialization allows Stephenson to work based out of his home in Raleigh, NC; however, both gentlemen look forward to the growth of the Horn & Heel.
Rayson and Stephenson both attended ECU, where they became friends through classes they were taking in the School of Art and Design (SOAD).
Originally a business major, Stephenson quickly recognized his draw to art. “My father is a designer, and once I began taking metals, I fell in love with the medium and processes,” Stephenson says. “There’s just something about creating tangible objects that people can use and interact with, out of raw materials with fire and a hammer.”
For Rayson, all it took was an art elective and an enthusiastic grad student to help steer him into the SOAD program. “My favorite class was Black and White Photography, and to this day I reflect on the hours I spent in the dark room making something I was exited about,” Rayson says.
“We both have great memories of our time there and without ECU, we would never have become friends, we would never have become business partners and we wouldn’t have Horn & Heel—So we would say we are very glad we went to ECU,” Rayson says.