Our featured artisan this week (see samples of her work to the right, below) is Chaseenia Terry of Gastonia, N.C., the founder and jewelry designer of CJ DRESS-HER. Chaseenia has a background in retail, marketing, visual merchandising, textiles, and international purchasing procurement -- and also in the salon and spa industries. She currently sells both jewelry and supplies at trade shows and festivals.
Chaseenia is on our 'most admired' list because she's one who believes in giving back. She regularly donates jewelry to special causes and charities (e.g., Breast Cancer Awareness, Domestic Violence Prevention/Survival, and more). She also designs/supplies jewelry specifically for causes and campaigns, and provides special wholesale pricing for fundraising purposes.
I have never been to Gastonia, N.C., so I wanted a feel for where Chaseenia lives and works. In the past, the city was the international corporate headquarters for the textile company Parkdale Mills, the number one manufacturer of spun yarn in the world. Since the economic downturn over the last decade, the plant along with several other manufacturers has moved internationally. This is a photograph of Gastonia by Lewis Hine (one of my favorite historic documentary photographers) -- revealing a very sad part of Gastonia's history from the early 1900's -- child labor. Although Gastonia has its treasures (wonderful historic buildings, beautiful surrounding nature), it is challenged with higher than average unemployment and poverty rates. Consequently, Chaseenia works in an area more challenging than many others -- in terms of ensuring her product is affordable for the area's population. And in fact, the genesis of her jewelry company is this affordability factor.
She started her work in jewelry design out of frustration that she couldn't find locally the type of affordable, good quality jewelry she was seeking. (This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from one of my all-time favorite authors, Toni Morrisson, who said [I'm paraphrasing] "I write books I want to read.")
Shortly after beginning this journey, Chaseenia discovered a love for gemstones, especially Jasper, Agate, Amber, Onyx, Tiger Eye and Turquoise. Like many of us, the stones themselves inspire her. She also seeks to match the stones and the designs to the wearer's personality -- making custom pieces for customers who want authentic, one-of-a-kind adornments that express their own unique style.
Chaseenia has a big heart and an entrepreneurial spirit -- and that is reflected in how she does business. If you'd like to learn more about what she has to offer, visit her web site & social media sites. She encourages folks to sign up for her e-mail newsletter, where she provides style tips, fashion inspirations, pictures of her beautiful creations, and information on discounts and give always. Here are the sites:
Because Chaseenia has a great line on her Facebook page that talks about how rubies and sapphires are related, and that they are actually more rare and valuable than diamonds, I thought I'd link to a couple of my own favorite blog posts on rubies: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/66-ruby-birthstone and sapphires: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/68-sapphire-birthstone. If you follow these links, enjoy!
Until next time, All Our Best & Happy Sales!