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

Three Ways to Wear: Owl Frock Featuring Monkee’s of Johnson City

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 With autumn right around the corner, I am starting to stock up on some lovely transition frocks with function and versatility.

When I stumbled upon this fabulous button-down owl piece at Monkee’s of Johnson City, I fell head-over-heels for it! Not only is it warm-hued for fall style, but it is also versatile enough to be worn as a blouse, dress, and outerwear. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s Three Ways to Wear Thursday and get a look at how truly amazing this wardrobe goody is ♥

Way One: Blouse

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Owl Frock: Monkee’s of Johnson City

Lariat Necklace & Beaded Bracelet: Beauty In Stone Jewelry

Jeans: GAP

Heels: Jessica Simpson

Cuff Bracelet: Monkee’s of Johnson City

Way Two: Dress

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Owl Frock: Monkee’s of Johnson City

Necklace & Earrings: BluKatDesign

Flats: BCBG, DSW

Way Three: Outerwear

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Owl Frock: Monkee’s of Johnson City 

Dress: Old Navy

Heels: Michael Kors

Short Necklace: BluKatDesign

Earrings: Nest Pretty Things

Lariat Necklace & Beaded Bracelet: Beauty In Stone Jewelry

Clutch: Luke & Lyla Designs

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Stay Fabulous,
Abby Hathorn

Weekly Whistle: Little Leopard Dress featuring Monkee’s of Johnson City

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Ya know…there is just something about leopard that makes a fashionista feel fabulous and fearless. It stands out in a crowd, it pairs elegantly with pops of color, and it can be a real wild card when combined with other patterns. (See this week’s #VIPMixItMonday on Instagram.)

I found this lovely, little leopard dress at Monkee’s of Johnson City while on a local shopping adventure, and needless to say, I fell head-over-heels for its wear-ability and versatility. So, for this week’s Weekly Whistle, I am sporting it with a sweet lace under-dress, handmade accessories, and my favorite handbag of ALL TIME *wink*

Check out the photos below taken in awesome downtown Johnson City + be sure to check out Monkee’s of Johnson City on Facebook and Instagram for the latest trends!

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Dress: Monkee’s of Johnson City

Necklace: BluKatDesign

Earrings: BluKatDesign

Heels: Jessica Simpson, Belk

Handbag: Kate Spade, Kate Spade at The Summit (Birmingham, AL)

Bracelet: “borrowed” from mom’s closet *wink*

Scarf (on handbag): personal vintage collection

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ALSO…I mentioned this dress having lots of versatility, so be sure to come back tomorrow for Three Ways to Wear Thursday where I will be styling this leopard find 3 new ways ♥

Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

Weekly Whistle: Funky Work Flow

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Sometimes, it is fun to dress head-to-toe in matchy-matchy outfits; however, I often like to think outside the box. From mixing leopard with flamingo to mixing  navy/white with bright mint and lime green–there is just something extremely satisfying about adding a little bit of funk to the everyday work-flow outfit! I get a little bit of adrenaline rush, ya know? *wink* Okay–so maybe, fashion is my addiction, and I have no shame–ZERO SHAME *wink* 

For this week’s Weekly Whistle, I styled this funky work-flow ensemble that is not only great for the office and running errands, but it is also great for catching a bite to eat after the work is done–no changing, no extra accessories, no worries *hands in air* So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s absolutely smashing outfit of the week ♥

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Dress: Serendipity Boutique (Johnson City, Tennessee)

Necklace: Belk

Gold Bracelet: vintage, mom’s closet

Watch: Brighton

Earrings: BluKatDesign

Handbag: gift

Heels: Nine West

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

Three Ways to Wear: Neon Floral Shawl

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Sometimes…it’s just fun to mix a little neon into your wardrobe! It’s good for the soul–just like sweet tea *wink*

 So, for this week’s Three Ways to Wear Thursday, I am adding some brightness to my wardrobe with three spectacular ways to wear a cute goody I picked up at R Tabb & Co. on my recent visit to Mississippi. Now, without further delay, let’s check out this TWTWT as I nap-it-up for Jonesborough Days tomorrow *wink*

Way One: Mixing It Up

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Shawl: R Tabb & Co.

Shorts: Gabe’s (Johnson City location)

Crop-top: Express

Heels: Michael Kors, Belk

Necklace: BluKatDesign

Way Two: Festival Wear

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Shawl: R Tabb & Co. 

Shirt: J.Crew

Skirt: J.Crew

Heels: Lucky Brand, Belk

Necklace: BluKatDesign 

Way Three: The IG #VIPMixItMonday

Be sure to follow @AbbyHathorn on Instagram to see the special outfit posts + more everyday!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHLlkZEDYWH/?taken-by=abbyhathorn

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn