MORRIS – Stacey Olson is an entrepreneur at heart.
She has owned several businesses in downtown Morris – including 312, Montage Spirits and Gifts and Lola’s, which she has parted ways with – but that hasn’t slowed down her spirit to sell.
Olson, of Morris, has started her own jewelry line, creating one-of-a-kind pieces from the quiet of her home.
“I was raised in an artistic house where dad was involved in photography, painting and writing, and mom was a writer,” she said. “Every kind of craft possible was done on our kitchen table.”
Growing up in Minneapolis, cold winters gave way to a lot of time to create things in their house.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, she said cross-stitching was cool and she would watch her mom and aunts spend their free time making intricate projects.
“I watched with admiration, as images seem to suddenly appear,” she writes on her blog. “Sewing has never been my forte. I knew I was creative but searched for a medium in which would enable me to fully express my creativity.”
As she started and ran each of her businesses, she looked for ways to showcase her creative talents.
“When I had Lola’s, I would look for ways to express my creativity using things like paper,” she said. “But I’ve never really had a creative outlet to sell the things I make.”
One day when looking for a pair of her earrings she misplaced, she found pieces of a necklace that would give her just the look she was going for, so she took the necklace apart and created earrings.
“I wore them out and everyone complimented them,” she said. “That gave me the idea.”
She said when she was growing up in the 1980s she once broke apart an old phone and used the pieces to create earrings, so the thought has been there for a long time.
“I always assumed everyone did it,” she said. “I never thought of it as a business, it’s just something that came natural.”
To find items to use for her jewelry she goes to estate sales, resale stores and auctions.
“I go to about fifty estate sales or auctions each year with my husband who is an auctioneer,” Olson said. “You can get some great old necklaces and jewelry.”
She said that you can repurpose and recycle all kinds of items into contemporary jewelry. While the embellishments are repurposed items, the hooks or posts for the earrings are new.
“We love the idea of using something that has been repurposed,” Jeromy Keller, manager of West Elm Chicago. “ Her work with vintage pieces is gorgeous and any of her jewelry could instantly become a statement piece.”
Keller said West Elm is a company that is all about becoming more green everyday, and they appreciate the value in upcycling items to give them new life.
Olson painstakingly hand-beads each piece, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to create the different pieces in her collection.
She said she can create three new necklaces from one by using the pieces differently than they were originally intended.
And while beads from one necklace may be used to create several pairs of earrings, no two pieces are identical.
“I change up each piece so every single one is one of a kind,” Olson said. “You’ll never go out to lunch and see your earrings on someone else.”
She has created a blog to go along with her Etsy store where she is chronicling her journey as a jewelry artist.
“I create as much as my schedule allows,” she said. “During my free time I either create or blog.”
Olson will be showcasing her work this weekend at Meet the Maker Marketplace and Jazz performance at West Elm Chicago.
If You Go
What: Meet the Maker Marketplace and Jazz Performance
When: 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: West Elm Chicago – 1000 W. North Ave., Chicago