I’m often asked…how did you get started? What exactly do you make, why the name baubles, do you make this all yourself? So here’s the story.
In 1998, while living in Scottsdale, Arizona, I purchased a couple of beaded bobby pins for one of my best friends back in my hometown of Kansas City, who was getting ready to graduate law school. Tricia has fabulous dark hair and I thought she would be a happy recipient of these little numbers – as the popularity of hair trinkets was just emerging. Before I mailed them back to KC, an Arizona friend stopped by place. She had watched me make a shower curtain from $2.00 of fabric, paint my own wall art and decorate with flea market junk before it was hip. Hence she asked, “Did you make these?” I told her “No, but I could.” And I did. 17 years later, I still am.
I went out and bought bobby pins and experimented with wire and different beads. I whipped up some business cards and sent her off to Minnesota to a 4th of July party with a stack of bobby pins and she returned with a stack of cash.
Later that summer my mom encouraged me (ok, flat out told me to come home) to set up shop at a little boutique sale one of the local churches was having. It was $75.00 for the booth for this one day sale. I said, “Mom. 75 bucks? What if I don’t sell anything?” Needless to say I flew home, set up my card table and talked another of my best friends in to hanging out with me. I was approached by three different business women that day who wanted to carry my line. (My line? I don’t have a line?) I met with one of them the next day and sold her everything I had.
I moved back to Kansas City later that fall and was encouraged by local retailers to make more and NEW things. Can you make bracelets? Necklaces? Earrings? “Ummm, sure?” I taught myself everything I do today. Shortly after I moved home, in the fall of 1999, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given 6 months to live. In her cleaning out this and that, she gave me a brown paper sack filled with some of my grandmother and great-grandmother’s costume jewelry. I asked her “what am I going to do with this?” she smiled and said “you’ll think of something!” That bag sat under my desk for the better part of a year, until after my mom passed away. I reached in to the bag and decided to wire some of the vintage earrings and broches on to cocktail spreaders and pie servers. Others I decided to make a drop for a necklace or repurpose the beads in to new pieces of jewelry – it was so fun. My love of vintage was born.
It’s funny – I grew up in a house of antiques, in a bedroom which would be described as shabby chic by today’s standards. My mom and aunt dragged my cousin and me to countless antique stores, flea markets and garage sales and I had grown to want nothing to do with that stinky stuff. I’d like to think how my mom would be so proud of how my taste evolved in to a love of vintage things which started while she was sick but only became greater after her passing. In the last week of her life, I can vividly remember her relaxing in her chair watching me running up and down the stairs pulling things from the attic and asking her if I could take it to use in my own space. She got such a kick out of that and would so love my eclectic house built of old and new, and how much she influenced my love of things that can tell a story – whether sitting in my home, around someone’s neck or dangling on their arm.
And thus… these elements have made what has become so recognizable by my many customers over the years – there is a look, a style and something that just tells them “it’s a bauble”. I use vintage beads whenever I can, and still make everything by hand, myself. This site is a collection, a gallery of some of the many things I have done over the years and I hope you enjoy. I think I probably have photographed not even 10% of what I have ever created and have proudly been represented in over 300 stores nationwide, enough that I lost count years ago.
In 2003, I was contacted by a sister-owned store - STUFF, located in the Brookside area of Kansas City. I owe them the world, as they were so instrumental in buidling and marketing me to the Kansas City community and beyond, so a special thank you to Casey and Sloane Simmons. They took in everything I would throw at them, including a steamer trunk I had painted leopard with bright red feet. Makes me laugh thinking of so many things we have sold through the years! They were the first to ask me to bauble a table, and a 12 arm chandelier they let me turn loose with. If you have never been, I can promise you one thing – you will NEVER have a shopping experience like STUFF – because I have never encountered a store as remarkable from the inside out. They regularly change their window displays and they would rival any New York City retailer at Christmas. They’re pure genius. Check them out online at pursuegoodstuff.com.
I still make hair pins (and who knew there would be SO many types!) I consider myself lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. All things have happened just as they should. Through the ups and downs, death, births, marriage, moving and turning into a forty-something, I always have my baubles to ground me. There is nothing like seeing the excitement of someone’s face as they receive one of my creations, or introducing me to others as “the bauble girl.” Who says money makes you rich? Baubles have certainly not paid my bills over the years or bought me fancy things, but the people it has introduced me to, the friendships I have made and the happiness it brings me – I would consider myself quite rich. I am happily married to an Iowa farmboy, living in Atlanta, Georgia and am mom to my two boys, Mack and Gus. Can't even imagine life without those little guys.
Until the next idea surfaces…