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Women-run pocket knife business brings feminine touch to industry

Brighten Blades takes inspiration from positive phrases to make knives designed for women.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Diane Carver and her three daughters, from left, Kimi Jensen, Kristy McClellan and Katie Mecham design and sell pocket knives for women under the name Brighten Blades, Aug. 26, 2021.

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You can’t just paint a knife pink and say it was designed for women. At least that’s what Diane Carver and her daughters set out to prove when launching their business, Brighten Blades.

Inspired by hopeful words, such as “resilient” and “dream,” the designs of the Brighten Blades knives are colorful with whimsical patterns. But don’t let the cheeriness fool you, it’s still a quality knife, Carver said.

Carver, who has worked in the knife industry for more than 20 years, brought her daughters Kristie McClellan, Katie Mecham and Kimi Jensen together to fill the gap in the market for knives designed for women.

“I can use my husband’s knife,” Jensen said, “but it doesn’t fit in my hand nearly as comfortable as what we’ve designed.”

The full-sized knives come in a zip-up case, which the women say can slip into a glove compartment or purse. Carver noted that the pockets on women’s clothing often aren’t deep enough for a knife anyway.

Slightly smaller versions of each of the knives are available as keychains.

“I don’t carry a big purse, but I always have my keys with me,” McClellan said.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The knives are full size pocket knives and smaller keychain knives, above, in various themes of hope, dream, love, laugh, happy, resilient, wish, peace, brave, believe, faith and unite.

As the one with years in industry under her belt, Carver has connections to others in the knife business who manufacture the blades. Each daughter also brought her own skills. Jensen leads up sales, McClellan makes the designs and Mecham handles writing the promotional material.

“We love working together,” McClellan said. “Maybe a little bit too much. Sometimes we don’t get as much done because we start talking [about other things].”

Business meetings happen at all hours of the day, too, as each daughter is raising four children -- McClellan has four sons, Jensen has four daughters, and Mecham has two of each. Sometimes, business has to wait until after bedtime.

Being a four-person team, the women are constantly learning new things about operating a business. But Mecham said it helps to be learning with family, especially when they all live near each other in Morgan.

“It’s easy to call and say, ‘Hey mom, I don’t know what I’m doing. How do we figure this out?’” Mecham said.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Diane Carver has worked in the knife industry for over 20 years. In 2020, Carver and her three daughters, l-r Kimi Jensen, Kristy McClellan and Katie Mecham design and sell pocket knives for women under the name Brighten Blades, Aug. 26, 2021.

It’s about convenience

Using a pocket knife is often simpler than using a bulky pair of scissors, Jensen said. Whether opening a package from Amazon or cutting tags off of her kids’ back-to-school clothes, the women say they find themselves reaching for their knives plenty of times throughout the day.

“If you haven’t carried a knife as a woman, you’re going to be shocked how many times you use it,” Carver said.

Women who are used to carrying a knife are lining up to purchase a Brighten Blades knife. The company launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter hoping to raise $5,000. Through the campaign, customers can buy the knives for $25 each.

Interested customers raised that and then some in about two days.

Presales through Kickstarter are available until Sept. 22, so Brighten Blades is likely to far surpass its goal. The women expect to ship the first of the knives in October.

“It’s been fun to see [customers] get as excited about the product as we have been,” McClellan said.

Brighten Blades works with a manufacturer in China, which Carver said she chose because they are ethical and produce a quality product.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The knives are full size pocket knives and smaller clip-on knives, above, in various themes of hope, dream, love, laugh, happy, resilient, wish, peace, brave, believe, faith and united. Diane Carver and her three daughters, l-r Kimi Jensen, Kristy McClellan and Katie Mecham design and sell pocket knives for women under the name Brighten Blades, Aug. 26, 2021.

“I chose the manufacturer that we’re working with because the man owns the manufacturing company, but the wife owns the design business,” Carver said. “I knew that … she would be able to capture our vision and capture what we are trying to do for women.”

Though Carver still works in product development for a knife company based in Italy, she said none of her work has brought her the “pride” and “excitement” of launching Brighten Blades.

To her daughters, getting into the knife business just made sense.

“When your name is Carver,” McClellan said, “it’s in your blood.”

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