MIAMI – The popular collectible Rustic Cuff bracelets have grown legions of fans across the U.S. and now the world. A third generation Miami teacher, Kaci Hoffer's design was chosen for a special Rustic Cuff bracelet.
Hoffer is a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at Wilson Elementary School and comes from a long line of educators. Her family holds the distinction of being the longest consecutively teaching family in Miami with members teaching since 1961. Her mother Vicki Lewis, and grandparents taught for Miami Public Schools before her.
“I taught Kindergarten for six years, and then I got to move down to Pre-K and I love it,” Hoffer said. “I love the Pre-K students they’re so eager. They want to learn. They’re excited and when they learn something new their whole little face just lights up, they’re so proud of themselves and they’re tickled pink.”
Hoffer said being able to make a difference in the lives of her students is why she teaches.
“There are so many teachers who I had who made me be who I am,” she said. "And I would love for one day to be able to see that I made the difference in one kiddo. That’s my goal, to make an impact.”
Rustic Cuff collection pieces are made from exotic skins, original designs, and various types of metals. The company holds design contests regularly bringing in an abundance of concepts to choose from to produce.
“There’s a Facebook group with over 500,000 people in it, and she (Rustic Cuff founder Jill Donovan) will randomly do contests. She just launched this new piece where you could design your own and there were no stipulations. Just design a cuff that you think people would like,” Hoffer said. “And so, you know being a teacher, and teaching is my passion, I actually had the design previously and moved the design to the cuff.”
Hoffer first received an email from the company asking for more information about the fonts and design details she used.
“They released the winner on the website and it was actually my cousin’s graduation day and whenever they released the news, Mom and I were sitting in her graduation,” Hoffer said with a laugh. “It came across and when we looked at it, we were so excited…My Mom was the first one to order one.”
Rustic Cuff was founded in 2011, by attorney and TU law professor Jill Donovan, after a disheartening experience as a guest on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, according to the company’s website. The topic of the show was re-gifting and left Donovan, an avid re-gifter, publicly humiliated when etiquette experts weighed in saying her re-gifting was rude and tacky.
After the experience Donavan, an avid cuff collector learned to make cuffs and began filling a gift closet with beautiful bracelets she gifted to friends and family.
Donovan's hobby turned into a Tulsa based business selling the cuff bracelets with the signature metal logo, Rustic Cuff.
Today Rustic Cuffs are sold throughout the world and have been worn by celebrities such as Miranda Lambert and Gayle King, and featured on national talk shows and in numerous magazines.
Telling her story Donavan now shares her passion as a motivational speaker and credits Rustic Cuff collectors who buy cuffs to keep and to give away.
Many remove the cuffs from their own wrist to give to someone else, some strangers, in spontaneous gestures of love, hope, friendship, tears, and laughter. This natural outpouring of kindness, compassion, and generosity has become part of Rustic Cuff's mission.
Donavan's story is one of full circle redemption, of re-gifting turned into a positive movement. In March 2015, a Rustic Cuff bracelet that Donovan had given to Gayle King was featured on the cover of Oprah’s O Magazine, worn by Oprah herself, according to Rustic Cuff’s company website.
Hoffer’s winning design incorporates a pink heart and script that reads, “It takes a Big heart to shape little minds.”
Two of her bracelets will be given away to local teachers at the upcoming ROCET event for teachers and school staff.
The cuffs hold special significance in Hoffer’s life. She lost her father, Dave Lewis, after a battle with cancer this past year and her family was comforted by a kind gesture and the re-gifting mission Rustic Cuffs now embraces. Hoffer’s father even made her a special Rustic Cuff holder to hold her growing collection a month before he passed.
“At Dad’s last appointment at Tulsa Cancer Institute they had a nurse that they really liked, and she said, ‘I don’t know what it was this morning but I just felt like I needed to wear this bracelet,’ and it said, ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow because God’s already there,’ and she gave it to Mom,” Hoffer said as her voice broke with emotion.
Hoffer hopes her cuff design will become just as special to others who teach and have a heart for children.
“The gifting and re-gifting is really powerful,” she said.
Hoffer's design is now available here locally at Chapters Book Store in Miami. After Chapters Teresa Karleskint had learned of Hoffer’s winning design, she became excited about offering the cuff at the Miami store.
Chapters has been an authorized dealer of Rustic Cuffs since 2016 due to Karleskint’s efforts but after requesting Hoffer’s bracelet, she found it would not be available to the store. But she didn’t stop.
“I could not buy it wholesale. So I called the wholesale department and told her the story and she said “You know what, I’m meeting with Jill tomorrow,’ and you know what? Jill said yes,” Karleskint said. “We love it, and we’re so proud of Kaci.”
Hoffer’s cuff had to be special ordered to be stocked at Chapters.
“Jill had to approve it, and she did. Monday I walked into Chapters and there it was,” Hoffer said. “It was really cool the moment I saw it on the website and then when I walked in and saw it on display at the stores in Tulsa it was amazing, but to walk into Chapters and see something that you designed that’s for sale, I was awe struck. I thank God for the community, and one of our local stores that wanted to support me.”
Hoffer said she does not get any monetary reward from the bracelet sales, but her pride in seeing her special design is more than enough reward.
“It’s pretty cool the bracelet is called ‘The Kaci,’” she said.
Hoffer and her husband Dustin, a Miami Police Officer are both dedicated to serving children and spend hours and hours volunteering with the FOP’s Angel Tree Christmas toy drive project for children and other organizations such as Teachers’ Toolbox.
“I treat my students like they’re my own,” Hoffer said. “ I love them just as big and I put my heart into what I do.”