Jewelrymaker balancing creativity with business
As a middle school student, Kelly Wenner would make jewelry for her friends.
Before she went into business full time, Wenner could be seen around town sporting her own designs. It's not surprising then that the Columbia native, who has a degree in sociology from the University of Georgia, returned to jewelrymaking after first trying her hand at teaching.
"I loved to draw and paint, and I was always making stuff," she says.
Her inspirations come from just about anything: a woman's dress, colors in nature, the stones of pavement. Visions of designs come to her during the nightly ritual of washing her face.
Wenner keeps paper and pen handy so she can sketch the designs as they appear in her imagination.
"I just see it," she says.
Wenner often works in copper, gun metal, turquoise, smoky quartz, coral and jade. She enjoys working with a mix of metals.
Wenner's studio is at 10 Storehouse Row in North Charleston off Noisette Boulevard on the old Navy base.
Her shop recently was used in a scene for an upcoming episode of "Army Wives," which airs on Lifetime Television and is filmed locally. The episode is slated to air Oct. 5 and 6.
"I was the happiest little thing," Wenner says. "I was just euphoric."
The road to self-employment wasn't always easy, she admits, but Wenner is grateful to do work she is passionate about. She has had to learn how to balance her passion for creativity with the daily chores of running a business.
"You have to want it bad enough," Wenner says. "You have to be motivated and not be shy. When you hear 'no,' you just have to let it go. You have to be optimistic and not let it get you down."
Wenner is largely self-taught, save a few classes in metalwork. She prefers to learn by trying something on her own first, she says.
"It's definitely worth it," Wenner says of her work. "At the beginning and end of the day, it's best to be doing what you love."
In the coming months, she hopes to expand her offerings online.
Wenner's jewelry can be found at stores around the country and locally at Utopia and Eye Level Art.
In Columbia, her pieces can be purchased at Blue Sky Art Gallery and Bohemian.
For more information, visit www.kellywenner.com or call 813-5858.