Artisans Build Inventory for Holiday Season

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – All artists have a passion for creating something, and for the lucky few, this passion can turn into a profit-making business. During the holiday season, these artisans work to get their items in front of more customers at craft shows and on their websites, as people are shopping for presents.

Before Deanna Guerrieri of Canfield and Sarah Moynihan of Austintown opened their business, My Beverly Jewelry, it was their hobby.

Guerrieri first learned of epoxy resin in 2013 when her mother was making bottle-cap magnets and using the material, an adhesive clear paint that hardens like glass, to hold a design in place inside the bottle cap.

“We were interested in it so we knew we wanted to make stuff with resin,” Moynihan says.

Adds Guerrieri, “We liked how it would preserve what you put inside.”

While both were working full-time jobs during the day, they began experimenting with epoxy resin at night. They started by placing old, family photos into pendants and pouring epoxy resin overtop to hold the photos in place. Then they switched to using pressed flowers.

“At first it wasn’t good at all then we kept at it and we’ve learned how to dry flowers and grow our own flowers and it just naturally progressed from there,” Moynihan says. “We started doing some local shows, selling it to test the waters and we saw there was an interest in what we were making so we kept at it.”

As demand grew for their products, Guerrieri and Moynihan were able to turn My Beverly Jewelry into full-time jobs.

My Beverly Jewelry now sells necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, pins, hair pins and bolo ties that display pressed flowers and greenery.

Sales are made online at MyBeverlyJewelry.com, at craft shows and in 18 stores. Prices range from $15 to $55, depending on the size of the piece.

The process of making the pressed-flower jewelry is a timely one that varies depending on the item. The flowers My Beverly Jewelry uses are grown from their own gardens, their families’ gardens or purchased at local flower shops.

To start, each flower petal and piece of greenery is placed by hand onto a flower press.

“We’re going to want to hold down each petal with our fingers and our thumbs to work it out so it’s going to sit as flat as we want it to,” Guerrieri says.

Then the flower press is cranked down to apply pressure to the flower. The flower will sit anywhere from a week to a month.

“The longest time is the flower pressing depending on how thick the flower is,” Moynihan says.

“A daisy or black-eyed Susan is a lot thicker than baby’s breath or Queen Anne’s lace.”

While the flowers are pressed, Guerrieri and Moynihan hand-paint the background of the pendants. Once the flowers are ready, they place the flowers in the pendant and pour epoxy resin over it, which takes 48 to 72 hours to cure.

My Beverly Jewelry also makes custom jewelry pieces, allowing customers to choose what flower is preserved in what piece of jewelry. Among the more popular requests is preserving flowers from wedding bouquets.

“We do a lot of special orders for people who want to capture a moment in time,” Guerrieri says.

My Beverly Jewelry will be selling its wares at the Youngstown Flea Holiday Flea at the DeYor Performing Arts Center Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and at the Artists of the Rust Belt’s Last Minute Market Dec. 15 and 16 at the B&O Station Banquet Hall.

“Looking back at what we’ve done, I can’t believe how far we’ve come,” Guerrieri says. “A small dream can turn into something real. You just have to stay persistent and learn from your mistakes.”

Another artisan, Lizz Beltz of Niles, developed an interest in blacksmithing three years ago while in college and has since turned it into a business, The Dragon Smith.

Beltz studied jewelry and metals at Bowling Green State University and during her senior year of school she decided to take a class on blacksmithing.

“I instantly fell in love with it,” she says. “It’s something different and it’s a great way to be aggressive and let off some steam.”

Beltz works full-time at Komara Jewelers and when she’s not at work there, she’s at home forging swords, knives, bottle openers, letter openers and pendants in her garage for her own business. Most of the metal she uses is scrap metal she finds in junkyards and from discarded machinery, such as lawn mower blades.

She starts by heating up her forge, using propane for heat versus coal because it is quicker and less messy. Once the metal is heated to the temperature she wants, she then moves it to an anvil and starts shaping it.

Her large-scale swords take around three months to make, she says.

“This craft in general is slowly dying because of factories and manufacturing. It’s just easier and quicker that way,” she says. “But having something handmade is a very different look from commercial. You can see it. It’s a quality thing. It feels different in your hand versus anything else.”

Beltz is currently working on a custom sword, a replica of the legendary medieval weapon Excalibur.

Lizz Beltz, owner of The Dragon Smith, forges large-scale swords out of her garage.

“Doing custom work like that for people is always nice because you find somebody who’s got a story to tell and if I can help tell that story, I find it as an honor,” she says.

When working on swords, Beltz likes to focus on historical accuracy. For Excalibur, “the grip is going to be made of wood and have brass inlay. The crossguard is going to be solely brass and the pommel will also be brass. There will also be a sheet running down partway up the blade that will be engraved with Swedish,” she says.

Custom orders can be placed online at LizzTheDragonSmith.com and Beltz sells her forged items at craft shows. Her items range in price from $5 for a pendant to $500 for a large-scale sword.

Every year she attends the Summer Festival of the Arts at Youngstown State University, the WaterFire events in Sharon, Pa., and she tries to attend any medieval-themed festivals in the area.

“At the medieval shows, you get everyone who wants to hold the sword,” she says. “I always let people hold it and get pictures with it and it’s a fun thing for them because it’s not everyday you get to hold a behemoth of a sword like that.”

This month, and for the holiday season, Beltz is running a half-price sale on some of her items.

As for Jessaca Brickley, she can’t recall a time when she didn’t enjoy sewing.

As a child, she says, “I would take apart clothes and re-sew them and my mom would always buy me craft stuff.”

Jessaca Brickley, owner of Reclaimed Rose in Columbiana, holds a purse she sewed.

Brickley makes aprons, handmade pouches, bags, hats and scarves for women and babies. She also makes bibs and enamel pin greeting cards.

She sources the fabrics online and from thrift stores. Anything that is “whimsical and cute,” she says.

Before opening her store, Reclaimed Rose, she was selling her homemade goods on Etsy.com.

“I was at a point in my life where I was looking to pursue my passion full time and I decided to open a store,” Brickley says.

Three years ago she opened Reclaimed Rose at 10 N. Main St. in Columbiana, so she could have a brick-and-mortar store to sell her items, as well as to have a venue for others to sell their goods.

“At the time, I didn’t have a lot of inventory, so I sought out other local artisans that could make things and sell them on consignment,” she says. “When you buy things from these makers you’re directly supporting a neighbor and somebody in the community. The money is staying within the community and it’s crucial to the local economy.”

Reclaimed Rose has grown to include 30 vendors, up from the three Brickley had when she opened her doors.

“Business has been great,” she says. “Every year I seem to establish more customers and meet new people.”

Brickley still likes to attend craft shows to sell her items and expand her customer base.

Before going to a show, she likes to take two weeks to prepare her inventory. Some of her items can be sewn in one hour and others take several days to complete.

Her items range in price from $3 for a small item to $25 for a purse or pouch.

Brickley will be at the Youngstown Flea Holiday Flea at the DeYor Performing Arts Center Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, as well as the Tuba Christmas & Craft Show at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown Dec. 2.

“As a small business, word of mouth is crucial and I do shows, which helps me get to other markets and meet new people,” Brickley says.

“It’s really good to try to source some of your holiday presents that way.”

Pictured:My Beverly Jewelry owners Deanna Guerrieri and Sarah Moynihan display their crafts.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.