“It all started nine years ago when my daughter Olivia was diagnosed with cancer,” Jennifer Ashley Brobst of Jennie B Jewelry recalled. “Beading became therapeutic for me and I started making accessories for my daughter’s first birthday. After she was in the clear, I kept crafting. She has always been my muse.”
In 2013, the photography studio where Brobst was working went under and she soon transitioned to being a full-time caregiver for her daughter while building Jennie B Jewelry. “I was left with a sense of sadness and relief. The portrait studio was a very demanding job and I was happy to spend more time with my daughter. I had more time to create,” said Brobst. “Olivia was very interested in what I was making, so I used beads to teach her patterns.” That spring, Brobst took a leap of faith and consigned some of her beaded necklaces at a children’s boutique in Delaware. “My husband later got a job offer in Bellingham, Washington and we moved to the west coast. That fall, I finally decided to open up my Etsy shop. It was great for me because I was able to combine my skills from my degree in photography with my love for creating jewelry.”
Jennie B Jewelry has since expanded beyond one-of-a-kind necklaces and offers small shoppers bracelets, earrings, headbands, flower crowns, bows, bow ties, teething necklaces, key chains, beaded pens, and ornaments. “I mostly create wearable art for children, so color is a big part of that. Many of my creations tend to be bright and bold and sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to have subtle pieces too,” said Brobst. “All my flower crowns are adjustable to fit kids to adults. Most of my necklaces can fit both kids and adults too.” Her favorite designs incorporate an ombré effect, “but my most popular necklaces usually include a unicorn, like a unicorn necklace with matching headband.” Olivia, now safely cancer-free, continues to inspire Brobst’s creativity. “I really enjoy collaborating with my daughter. One of my favorite pieces we created together included shades of the land and sea. It was a big hit,” she shared proudly. “It’s obvious my little shop would not exist without my daughter and I most likely would have never created a line of bow ties if I didn’t have my son, Alex. All of our adventuring out west inspired a lot of my work too. Exploring tide pools, taking in the amazing views of Artist Point, and feeling the mist of waterfalls on your face are all little reminders of the natural joys of being a kid.”
The small shop has developed its own design style over the years. “I started out using big gumball beads because that was the most popular back then. I mostly stick with smaller sized beads now,” Brobst explained. “I now do craft shows, online auctions and charity events, in addition to running my Facebook page and Etsy shop.” You can also regularly find Jennie B Jewelry creations online in groups like Hip Kids Market and NoMad Auction House. “I absolutely love being part of groups of talented female designers. 99% off the bead vendors and suppliers I purchase from are all strong, inspiring women.” Equally important to Brobst, as a mother of a child who underwent cancer treatments, is supporting the Live Love Foundation through jewelry donations. “They put together personalized presents for kids battling cancer all over the country. It is a cause close to my heart.”
Brobst is presently working on some spooky creations for Halloween, one of her favorite times of the year. “Expect to see some of your favorite character necklaces with matching bows in the fall. I might even throw in some classic horror movie pieces,” she predicted. “Spooky bow ties are definitely on the way. I hope to mix in some zebra or tiger ears for trick or treating. The cat and unicorn classics will be available.” Step up your accessory game with a piece from Jennie B Jewelry through Brobst’s Etsy shop and Facebook page here.