Jewelry maker associates beautiful objects with taboo subjects in an effort to get people talking about mental health
(an interview with Colleen Terry, owner, Begin Again Jewelry)
How did your interest in creating jewelry begin?
I took my first jewelry class after receiving a medical treatment called electro-convulsive therapy to treat bipolar disorder. The treatment resulted in severe memory loss. I had previously been a pretty big geek, even earning an academic scholarship to Baldwin Wallace University. I prided myself on my nerdiness; however, without my memory, I went from having a 4.0 my first semester of college to getting Ds and Fs when I came back. My mom, an artist herself, recommended that I take an art class. So, I signed up for a jewelry-making class. I found comfort and renewed self-esteem in making things with my hands. I fell in love with the permanence of metal objects, and my passion grew from there.
Where did you receive your training?
After falling in love with jewelry making, I transferred from Baldwin Wallace to The Cleveland Institute of Art where I earned my BFA in jewelry and metals.
The “Our Mission” section of the website mentions a donation of 10 percent of each purchase to organizations near and dear to your personal story. What can you share about that story?
I started my business about a year ago. I was finding myself during a period of recovery. Three years ago I was smoking 2 and 1/2 packs of cigarettes, drinking 1/2 a liter of vodka and engaging in eating disorder behavior every day. In 2015, I found yoga. Within two months of beginning a regular practice, I was able to quit smoking, and one week later I quit drinking -- both cold turkey and on my own. The eating disorder was the toughest to escape. Six month into yoga, I found the Emily Program Foundation, and, with their help, I became free of those behaviors for the first time in 20 years. As I began to find myself, I began to reexamine what I really wanted to be doing with my life, and I knew that part of that had to be making and another part had to be giving back and supporting others who had dealt with issues similar to mine and who were on the road to recovery. I also wanted to associate beautiful objects with taboo subjects in an effort to get people talking about mental health.
How did you create that business’ name?
Beginning again is what I am doing in my life and what I want to nurture and celebrate with my line and within the lives of the people I am able to touch with my jewelry, my cause and my philanthropy. It is also a yoga mantra that helped to change my life.
Where do you sell or market your products?
I am doing shows here and there and selling from my website primarily by word of mouth and social media.
How are the pieces made? Can you walk us through the process?
Typically, when it comes to designing my pieces I come to the bench with a general concept and then let my materials guide the rest of the process. I work primarily in 14k gold and sterling silver, and most of my work is hand fabricated. I do have a passion for CAD/CAM object-making and will likely be further incorporating this process within the line in the future.
What inspires your designs?
The symbolism and stones in my line all in some way represent hope, healing and rebirth in some facet. For example, some of the stones are known to facilitate calming and aid in meditation, and butterflies are a common symbol of rebirth.
What do you like to do when you are not designing and making jewelry?
I do a lot of yoga! I actually just earned my yoga teaching certificate and cannot wait to spread the love and healing with yoga and jewelry! I also treasure my time with family and friends.
Do you consider yourself a maker or a manufacturer and why?
I consider myself a maker because I am not mass producing and each piece is made with love, hope and gratitude.
What advice do you have for other makers?
Don’t be afraid to do what you love and share it with everyone!
Gina M. Tabasso, marketing communications specialist, HGR Industrial Surplus, www.hgrinc.com