Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Their efforts first began last fall when Sarah Young and Ashley Voigt wanted spirit jewelry to go with the Indians Football shirts they wore to work each Friday in support of the local high school squad.
Now, Beading Divas – a Jacksonville cottage industry – is creating pieces for folks requesting items that show support of the military.
“Our best advertising is word-of-mouth and we have sold about three specific military bracelets so far, but we already have additional orders coming in from people who have seen the original bracelets,” Young said, “so I guess the military bracelets are early in the discovery phase."
The women work with silver-plated European-style bracelets, necklaces and key chains, stringing themed charms and colorful glass beads on them to create unique pieces of jewelry and chains in a style reminiscent of a popular type of jewelry.
“Due to Pandora bracelets becoming very well known, most people are familiar with the concept of custom European jewelry (and) if you can think of it, we can design it,” she said.
“We can personalize each item with charms that capture all of the things that you love, whether it be birthstones, children, hobbies, specific sports teams, or, of course, the U.S. military.”
The most popular pieces change with the season: “Year-round, our most popular is the custom family bracelet.
Sports seasons and cause awareness months can drive sales also,” Young said, describing specialty bracelets for breast cancer, autism and epilepsy awareness.
About the time the women launched Bead-ing Divas, they discovered a “military mom” charm, which Young said was “when I realized that although it was harder to find the supplies, that we could actually make military bracelets.”
These special pieces are very much close to her heart.
“I enjoy making all of our bracelets, but there is a joy and passion that comes with making something patriotic for a customer who is in some way linked to our armed forces,” she said.
“My father served in the Army for a little while before I was born and my father-in-law was career military (who) served a total of 32 years in the service and so my husband (Kelly) was born on a military base and we were even engaged on base,” Young said.
Her father-in-law, and Army chaplain “married us, which was so special for us,” she said, adding how “marrying an 'Army brat' gave me a deeper appreciation for not only those who serve our great country, but for their families as well.”
The response to the military-themed pieces has been positive.
“People seem to genuinely love them,” she said, describing how beginning a hobby can be “a hard thing to do, especially when the start-up costs are such a commitment, but on days like the one where (one client) told me that she received the bracelet and how much she loved it, just makes it all worth it … I really enjoyed creating the 'military mom' and 'U.S. Marine Corps' bracelet for her.
“The bracelets are a creative outlet for me and since the military is so important to me as both a patriotic American and a member of a career military family, it’s just an amazing way to blend two of my passions.
“Any day that we can make a member of our military or one of their families members happy, is a great day,” Young said. “It's just such a great community to be serving.”
Costs range from $20 to $40 dollars for the different pieces, and once an order is placed, turnaround time is about a week, she said.
Jewelry orders can be placed through the Facebook page “BeadingDivas,” while pink ribbon cancer awareness and autism puzzle bracelets are available at Gerry's Boutique, 107 E. Commerce in Jacksonville.