If there is one thing I love more than sweet tea and shopping sprees, it’s handmade jewelry. So, when I met Suzanne McKinney of Beauty in Stone Jewelry at her trunk show at Monkee’s of Johnson City, we chatted about fashion and accessories–and we could have chatted about these fabulous things for days! Suzanne is such a bright, fun, and fashionable spirit with a true passion for her craft and quality, and that is why I just had to interview her for VIP. *wink*
With a true desire to always look and dress her best, Suzanne started her handmade jewelry business, Beauty In Stone, on fate one might say. “It just sort of happened…I saw a picture-jasper bead, got really inspired, and that’s what sort of motivated me to start beading and making jewelry for myself. Then, one day, I said, ‘I don’t want to ever stop doing this, so I might want to start selling it!’,” explained McKinney. “I love to make my outfits really pop! [Before I started making a lot of jewelry], I would spend hours just looking around at jewelry stores in search for the perfect accessories.”
VIP: What is your favorite piece of jewelry to make?
Suzanne: I love to make [these] leather cuffs because of all the…variations of stones that I can put together and get a different look. And recently, I started naming each of the bracelets and signing the insides.
VIP: So, it’s like little wearable pieces of your art! I love that!
Suzanne: Yes! It’s kind of fun how each piece speaks to me and almost says “I have to be called ‘yacht club’ or ‘night on the town.'”
VIP: Is there one particular stone that inspires your pieces or do you just go with the flow?
Suzanne: Oh, I totally go with the flow! I like to see what different stones are out there, combine colors, and just see what the whole thing looks like when it’s finished.
VIP: How would you describe your personal style–how you dress everyday?
Suzanne: I am very artsy, and I like the funky; however, I typically dress very classic. I wish I was [your age] again so I could wear some of the crazy funky things I see [you] wearing because that’s what I really love. But, that’s when accessories come in handy…I can wear something simple and classic with fun statement necklace or an artsy piece and get the style I want.
VIP: What is the one-stop-shop piece you make for Beauty In Stone that is appropriate for shoppers of all ages?
Suzanne: Definitely the leather lariat. It can be worn so many different ways, [and in fact], we keep finding different ways to wear it, wrap it, and layer it every time we play with it. From the neck to the wrists to even as a belt–the leather lariat is a really good, simple, versatile piece that can really fit anyone’s style. I make it in a variety of leather colors and bead them with gold or silver…and recently I have started making some leather lariats with pearls for a different, more classic look.
VIP: One thing I love about your pieces is each one is a little different. Yeah, you have the same styles but you name certain items, you add little initial charms to some, the stones are different in each look….You’re not buying the jewelry just because it’s pretty, you are buying it because of its personality.
Suzanne: Thank you! I really thought people would like that because they will start looking and wondering, “What is this one called? What is this one called?” I’ve also noticed that a lot of times the leather bracelets people pick for the color or beads, the name often reflects their personality or lifestyle in some way. For example, a woman today bought one, and I asked her if she happened to live by the water. When she responded with a yes, I just had to tell her to look at the name on the bracelet because it was called “Beachfront.”
VIP: I know we talked about this before, but you make your own leather, correct?
Suzanne: Yes! For the bracelets, I start with a shoulder of cowhide leather and slice it into strips, drill the holes into the leather to put a snap in, cut the slices and then start laying out the design of beads I want to attach. I am always experimenting–I have even mixed some leather dyes to make different hues.
VIP: Now, I have to ask you the VIP Question–what is one thing in your closet you would never toss out and why?
Suzanne: Oh, I could never toss out a raincoat I got from Monkee’s last year….I absolutely love outwear because it can be worn so many different ways year round.