VIP Interview: Handmade Jewelry Artisan Suzanne McKinney of Beauty in Stone Jewelry

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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*

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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.”

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VIP: What is your favorite piece of jewelry to make?

Suzanne: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.'” 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.” 

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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. 

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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. 

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Stay Fabulous,
Abby Hathorn

Weekly Whistle: Vintage-Inspired Trendy Outfits from Forever 21

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Trends…trends…trends–they come…they go…they repeat, just like history!

So, how does a fashionista keep up with the trends while still having her own unique style? Well–let me answer that for you *wink*

On a recent trip to the mall, I went into Forever 21 just to browse. While shopping around, I stumbled upon some vintage-inspired pieces that I just had to have. The following four items were being considered as hot “new” trends when, in fact, the styles are anything but new *wink* The colors, the necklines, the buttons, the everything are little repeats of pivotal trends from the 60s and 70s.  

And I rest my case *wink* These ensembles are from the 70s. Pay close attention to the green skirt on the left, the socks with heels, and the button details on the skirts on the far right. See the resemblance? Oh, how I do love fashion history :)

Now, before I go off on a fashion history lecture *wink* let’s take a look at this week’s Weekly Whistle which includes two–YES, TWO–fabulous outfits *wink*

Look 1:

When I first tried this look on together, I thought it looked like something a modern Nancy Drew would wear. What do y’all think? *wink*

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Blouse: Forever 21 | Skirt: Forever 21 | Necklace: BluKatDesign  | Bracelet: BlueGrits  | Clutch: Kate Spade | Heels: BCBG | Glasses: prescription *wink*

Look 2:

This look gives a more 1970s feel with the colors and boho vibe of the blouse + the skirt reminds me SO much of the green skirt pictured in the vintage picture!

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Blouse: Forever 21 | Skirt: Forever 21 | Boots: Bedstu, The Gypsy Spur | Bracelet: vintage

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What’s your favorite era in fashion? Start a chat by commenting on this post or by liking the VIP on Facebook here!

Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

Weekly Whistle: Emerald n’ Gold

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Last week on Weekly Whistle, I chatted about how rust and emerald have always been my color sweethearts. If you missed the post, check it out here–you don’t want to be behind *wink* 

Taking a little bit of inspiration from last week’s throwbacks + a fabulous necklace I just finished making, I decided this week’s outfit of the week should be all about gold and emerald! Oh…there is just something about how emerald pairs so elegantly with rich hues like rust and different metallics. I remember several years ago, I had this fabulous emerald dress, and I wore it with practically with everything under the sun *wink* Hm…I wonder where that post is on the blog? *stalking myself* HERE WE GO! 

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Ahh–this brings back sweet memories! This was when I was living in Birmingham and working with the Outlet Shops of Grand River for events and the Grand Haul Girl video series! Check out the post here.

Seeing this dress again makes me feel like I might have to dust it off for some future closet-shopping blogs, but I digress *wink*

Let’s get back to this week’s Weekly Whistle *wink* Check it out below:

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Sweater: Express

Skirt: Forever 21

Heels: Belk

Earrings: handmade, BluKatDesign

Necklace: handmade, BlueGrits

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To see another way I wore this necklace, please visit VIP Blue here!

Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

Letter From the Editor: Winsome Easel Calligraphy Workshop

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Last weekend, I attended my first ever calligraphy class at Reclaimed Inspired Goods in downtown Johnson City with Winsome Workshop by Winsome Easel owner Kristin Hornstein. It was so much fun, and I have practiced almost everyday since! Oh–y’all! Kristin has given me the technique + confidence to better my calligraphy while also developing my own unique style. I cannot wait until Winsome Workshop comes back to Johnson City because I will definitely be checking my calendar to attend *wink*

Day 1 of calligraphy. I wrote one of my favorite Hemingway quotes--"Write hard and clear about what hurts."
Day 1 of calligraphy. I wrote one of my favorite Hemingway quotes–“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Day 2--I played around with this quote I found on Pinterest. Still a little shaky in technique but practice makes perfect *wink*
Day 2–I played around with this quote I found on Pinterest. Still a little shaky in technique, but practice makes perfect *wink*
Day 3--Playing around with different fonts and decorative ideas.
Day 3–Playing around with different fonts and decorative ideas.
Day 4--I quite like the way this doodle worked out! Such a simple quote with great meaning! Still have a little work to do on my writing though *wink*
Day 4–I quite like the way this doodle worked out! Such a simple quote with great meaning! Still have a little work to do on my writing though *wink*

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Check out all the awesome things Kristin does on Winsome Easel. Y’all, her work is breathtaking! Also, look to see if she has a workshop coming up near you *wink* Click here.

Also over the weekend…

I created and listed some new handmade goodies in my Etsy shop. Check out some of my favorites below!

You won’t have to look beyond this upcycled 1970s necklace for the perfect gift for the VIP in your life *wink*. Click the photo to view the listing photos + learn more about the one-of-a-kind vintage dream.
Hello, color! Think of the looks you’ll get when wearing these eye-catching, handmade beauties! Buy NOW by clicking the image.
Don’t miss out on this OOAK bracelet with vintage fabric fringe. To avoid disappointment, be sure to order NOW! :) Click the image to shop.

Now…the VIP needs YOUR help!

As I am looking to expand and better my Etsy shop, I want to know what YOU want to see! More upcycled/vintage necklaces, specific colors, different stones, etc etc. Please comment on blog post or email here.

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

Weekly Whistle: The $3 Outfit | Thrifting

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Back before thrifting was a “cool thing to do,” I took just a few dollars a month and went to thrift shops in Starkville, Mississippi (not far from where I grew up) in search of vintage gems and clothing items to DIY. I found so many awesome things–some of which I still wear on the blog to this day. Now, at this time in my life when I told people that I was thrifting, they looked at me like I was “weird” or that it was “gross” to buy second-hand clothes…then Macklemore came out with a song that made thrifting popular among the “cool kids.” In fact, because of that song, thrifting almost became as cool as hanging out in the Sonic parking lot on Saturday nights *wink* 

Now, this past weekend, I went thrifting around Johnson City, TN with my parents where we stumbled upon a small store called Thrift Shop at Boones Creek which benefits the Haven of Mercy Ministries. For only $10, I got two skirts (one leather–it’s currently at the dry cleaners), a sweatshirt, a blouse (with the tags still on it–score!), and two vintage necklaces. *GASP* Why can’t mall shopping be that budget-friendly?! I mean–this Weekly Whistle outfit only cost me $3, and it looks like something straight out of an Urban Outfitters catalog *wink*

Now, without further ado, take a look at this week’s Weekly Whistle and get your thrift on while I get my cuddle-buddy (Ziva–my precious Giant Schnauzer) and binge on Limitless (my latest TV show obession). Bring it on winter storms! *wink*

$3 Dollar Outfit

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Sweatshirt: Thrifted

Skirt: Thrifted

Heels: Michael Kors, Belk

Necklace: Brooke Morgan Designs (Louisville, MS)

Bracelets: BlueGrits (click here to shop)

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn