Lisa Oden Knapp on saving the world, one child at a time
Written By: Susan Gilmore | Images: Briley Pickerill
Lisa Oden Knapp is what you might stereotypically expect from a jeweler upon first conversation. Her resume is replete with over 35 years of experience in the industry, traveling the world for such heavyweights as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton.
She enjoys voyaging across Europe, searching for best-in-class diamonds and highest-end Swiss watches to bring back to her quaint store in Jackson. Her deeper story, however, paints a more colorful picture of a passionate humanitarian who says what she thinks and means what she says, and follows through on both.
“My shoe was always broken, my hair was always past due getting cut, and my nails were always a mess because I have always been so incredibly busy traveling the world for luxury goods companies,” Lisa explains, self-identifying as the “wild one who can’t sit still.” She met her husband, Dave Knapp, during this time while they were both raising their children in Texas. “We met and decided to retire and that just didn’t last me long, like I think it lasted me a week,” she explained. “I can’t relax, it’s boring!”
Through a series of volunteering stints at varying nonprofits around Austin in an attempt to fill her time, Lisa decided to start her own nonprofit, called The Austin 20, and focus her newly retired energy on helping children who are victims of domestic sex trafficking. Much of her life became consumed by this goal, as it still is today. “My husband got a little tired of me banging down people’s doors at 3 o’clock in the morning to save a 14-year-old because I would always bring them all home, and sometimes their families and friends, too.”
The pair decided to take a trip out West, and, as with many stories in Jackson, they landed here and ended up staying. She opened Oden Watches and Jewelry in 2020 after purchasing the historic Deloney Street Mercantile, built in 1906 from bricks kilned here in Jackson, and initially began selling her own jewelry in the store before sourcing from other brands across Europe. It turns out that the wild one who can’t sit still paired well with the “genius Ivy League boy,” and the store has flourished. Dave helped renovate the space and provided his own invention of lights that change throughout the day based upon circadian rhythms, giving the store a true gallery feel.
“The right thing seems to outweigh the shiniest thing at this point in my life,” Lisa states, an ironic statement for a woman with decades invested in the jewelry industry. She still loves being involved in jewelry, of course. “People are all so nice here. Who people would consider to be my competitors in any other market are my friends here, and I just love that.”
Her focus for the shop is to provide high-end jewelry and watches to a range of clientele, repair such wares, support any cause that liberates children in or at risk of human trafficking, donate to local events and fundraisers, and to honor and uplift the wholesome community that Jackson represents and has cultivated. “It’s literally like living in Mayberry,” she jokes. “It’s a true community here. Everyone is just all nice and happy, and it’s beautiful and I love it.”
Forever at her side, as many in this Jackson community know all too well, is her small ‘ewok-lion’ hybrid mutt pup and shop mascot, Angelica Pickles, and any piece would simply be incomplete without mentioning her. Lisa explains that she is Angelica’s support animal, and that she takes her anywhere she goes: even going so far as to situate the pup in her shirt when she goes fly-fishing. “I love kids and I love animals, and I rarely am disappointed by either.”
Saving the world, one mutt, one child, one diamond at a time.