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Business of beachcombing: Teenage jewelry maker among farmers market’s youngest vendors

<p>Keely Stevenson of Stellarton displays some of the jewelry she sells at New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Co-operative. (Rosalie MacEachern photo)&nbsp;</p>
<p>Keely Stevenson of Stellarton displays some of the jewelry she sells at New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Co-operative. (Rosalie MacEachern photo)&nbsp;</p>

It might be bad for business, but jewelry-maker Keely Stevenson is heading back to school Thursday along with students across Pictou County.

No more summer days of scanning the beach and paddle boating in shallow waters in search of sea glass for her as Grade 8 beckons.

At 13, Keely, a talented volleyball player, is among New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Cooperative’s youngest vendors and she has been there for three years.

“I started out a little nervous and shy, but I feel I got better at dealing with people and I definitely have better money skills. I call my business Keely’s Sea Jewels and it isn’t going to make me rich, but it is fun and I get to see the amazing things other people make,” she said, adding she had an online store briefly, but gave it up in favour of the market, which is more profitable.

On a slow day, she makes enough to pay for her table rental, but on better days, when sales of her $5 to $10 items are brisk, she puts half her take into savings.  

“I don’t see this as a business for life, but I make some money and I’ve learned a lot about having a small business. I know it is important to be smiling and friendly and that is not hard because I meet so many interesting people among the customers and the market vendors.”

Some stop to look at her work, some to buy and some to place custom orders.

“Sometimes people see something I have and like it, but have an idea for something slightly different. They ask if I can make what they want and I like to do that. Sometimes my mother’s friends also want me to make something special.”

She credits her aunt Tara Carruthers with first sparking her interest in jewelry making.

“She’s pretty artistic and was making some pieces. I thought it looked kind of complicated, so I started to tinker and see what I could make. I was kind of surprised to realize I could make something that looked nice.”

She began fashioning necklaces from bigger pieces of glass, using only her fingers but then moved on to smaller pieces and pliers, always making sure the final product is sturdy and the new owner won’t be poked by a piece of wire.    

“Anybody who looks for beach glass knows you find more small pieces than large ones so I had to come up with some ideas for how I could use the tiny bits.”

One of those ideas is pendants with small corked glass bottles filled with bits of sea glass.

Keely does most of her “shopping” along the beach at Caribou River or Chance Harbour while spending time with family. She is always experimenting but all her products have what she calls a “beachy look.” She buys wires, cords and clasps from a craft store and is grateful her mother, Tanya, sometimes helps to cover the cost.

“With so much recycling and so much more concern for the environment, beach glass is getting harder to find. I am always looking for a colourful pieces, but most of what I find is white, brown or green. To find a piece of milk glass, from an old-fashioned glass milk bottle, is really exciting.”

With summer coming to an end, Keely has some ideas for Christmas ornaments she will have for sale at the market.

“I’m thinking of things that will remind people of being at the beach. I think I can use a little driftwood along with the sea glass to make something unusual but nice.”

Keely, who spent her last week of vacation at a volleyball camp, has been playing on a county-wide team, but once school starts, school and sports get busy.  

“The county club team has been a great experience and it is always fun to play with your friends on a school team so I hope it all works out for me.”

She comes from an active family so has seen her share of sports and volleyball is definitely her sport of choice.  

“It isn’t a sport you hear a lot about when you are really young, but I love it. I’m also lucky to have two older girls in Stellarton, Maia Green and Jamie Crockett, who are really good volleyball players and I have been to camp with them.”

She is a middle-blocker and at 5’9” or 5’10” looks like she could also be a serious threat on the basketball court. She acknowledges her family likes basketball but it is not for her.

“No thanks; I never really got the point of basketball. One person can have the ball all the time and how much fun is that? With volleyball we’re always moving the ball between teammates and I like how we work together.”

Keely is an avid horseback rider, finds time for jazz and contemporary dance lessons and paints for her own enjoyment. 

“My grandmother loves horses and my aunt as well, so I guess I was introduced fairly young. My friend and I started together at Sumac Farms with western quarter horses. I’m there once a week now, working on reining. I occasionally go to another farm for pleasure riding, but it is too expensive to do both all the time and I just don’t have that much free time, either.”

Despite already having been in business for three years, she doubts that is where her future lies. 

“Right now the two things I think about possibly doing are architecture and physiotherapy, one kind of artsy and one kind of sportsy,” she said.     

 

 

Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at r.maceachern@ns.sympatico.ca

No more summer days of scanning the beach and paddle boating in shallow waters in search of sea glass for her as Grade 8 beckons.

At 13, Keely, a talented volleyball player, is among New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Cooperative’s youngest vendors and she has been there for three years.

“I started out a little nervous and shy, but I feel I got better at dealing with people and I definitely have better money skills. I call my business Keely’s Sea Jewels and it isn’t going to make me rich, but it is fun and I get to see the amazing things other people make,” she said, adding she had an online store briefly, but gave it up in favour of the market, which is more profitable.

On a slow day, she makes enough to pay for her table rental, but on better days, when sales of her $5 to $10 items are brisk, she puts half her take into savings.  

“I don’t see this as a business for life, but I make some money and I’ve learned a lot about having a small business. I know it is important to be smiling and friendly and that is not hard because I meet so many interesting people among the customers and the market vendors.”

Some stop to look at her work, some to buy and some to place custom orders.

“Sometimes people see something I have and like it, but have an idea for something slightly different. They ask if I can make what they want and I like to do that. Sometimes my mother’s friends also want me to make something special.”

She credits her aunt Tara Carruthers with first sparking her interest in jewelry making.

“She’s pretty artistic and was making some pieces. I thought it looked kind of complicated, so I started to tinker and see what I could make. I was kind of surprised to realize I could make something that looked nice.”

She began fashioning necklaces from bigger pieces of glass, using only her fingers but then moved on to smaller pieces and pliers, always making sure the final product is sturdy and the new owner won’t be poked by a piece of wire.    

“Anybody who looks for beach glass knows you find more small pieces than large ones so I had to come up with some ideas for how I could use the tiny bits.”

One of those ideas is pendants with small corked glass bottles filled with bits of sea glass.

Keely does most of her “shopping” along the beach at Caribou River or Chance Harbour while spending time with family. She is always experimenting but all her products have what she calls a “beachy look.” She buys wires, cords and clasps from a craft store and is grateful her mother, Tanya, sometimes helps to cover the cost.

“With so much recycling and so much more concern for the environment, beach glass is getting harder to find. I am always looking for a colourful pieces, but most of what I find is white, brown or green. To find a piece of milk glass, from an old-fashioned glass milk bottle, is really exciting.”

With summer coming to an end, Keely has some ideas for Christmas ornaments she will have for sale at the market.

“I’m thinking of things that will remind people of being at the beach. I think I can use a little driftwood along with the sea glass to make something unusual but nice.”

Keely, who spent her last week of vacation at a volleyball camp, has been playing on a county-wide team, but once school starts, school and sports get busy.  

“The county club team has been a great experience and it is always fun to play with your friends on a school team so I hope it all works out for me.”

She comes from an active family so has seen her share of sports and volleyball is definitely her sport of choice.  

“It isn’t a sport you hear a lot about when you are really young, but I love it. I’m also lucky to have two older girls in Stellarton, Maia Green and Jamie Crockett, who are really good volleyball players and I have been to camp with them.”

She is a middle-blocker and at 5’9” or 5’10” looks like she could also be a serious threat on the basketball court. She acknowledges her family likes basketball but it is not for her.

“No thanks; I never really got the point of basketball. One person can have the ball all the time and how much fun is that? With volleyball we’re always moving the ball between teammates and I like how we work together.”

Keely is an avid horseback rider, finds time for jazz and contemporary dance lessons and paints for her own enjoyment. 

“My grandmother loves horses and my aunt as well, so I guess I was introduced fairly young. My friend and I started together at Sumac Farms with western quarter horses. I’m there once a week now, working on reining. I occasionally go to another farm for pleasure riding, but it is too expensive to do both all the time and I just don’t have that much free time, either.”

Despite already having been in business for three years, she doubts that is where her future lies. 

“Right now the two things I think about possibly doing are architecture and physiotherapy, one kind of artsy and one kind of sportsy,” she said.     

 

 

Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at r.maceachern@ns.sympatico.ca

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