Karen Kearney has fashioned her custom jewelry and clothing business, KarensRocksandRags, from inspiration she gathers from the fashion industry, music and nature. Her roots in the area run deep. She was born at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C, and was raised in Potomac when the land was abundant with farms and equestrian pursuits. For the past 16 years, she has lived in Lakelands. “I grew up with a lot of land, horse trails and horses. We had a big garden so I think that inspired my love of the Boho (Bohemian) and natural look with natural stones,” she said.
Kearney’s passion for music is noted in her jewelry and clothing lines that trend toward rock ‘n’ roll “for the fashion-forward person to wear to rock concerts,” she said. Simpler, classic pieces of jewelry are also part of her design repertoire as a nod to her years after college working for a diamond dealer. The desire to appraise professionally and gain more “information and knowledge about optics, grading, buying, et cetera,” led her to earn a gemology degree and afforded her the ability to write appraisals for individuals, insurance and estate companies, she said.
Kearney decided to start her own business because “I wanted people to get the most for their money” and she likes to make her own hours, “even if they are more hours,” she acknowledged. Her work began in fine jewelry where she created many of her friends’ engagement rings. “I knew they were getting married before they did!” Fashion jewelry became her focus because she was “tired of seeing $100 to $200 price tags for a simple costume piece. … I thought, ‘I can make this.’” She took a jewelry-making class and began creating necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. “People noticed my jewelry and asked me where I got it and that led to making pieces for other people,” she explained.
Her custom pieces, many of which are one-of-a-kind, range in price from $9 to $295. She works with a wide variety of gemstones and metals, including diamonds, black diamonds, wood, turquoise, gem beads, gold, gold plate and silver. Her favorite gemstone is the diamond “in any color, faceted or natural. I also love opals and turquoise. … Opal is my birthstone, and I just love that blue,” she noted. Her creations can be found in Kentlands at Clover Boutique and My Big Finds and on the Internet on her website and Etsy.com.
Jewelry predominates her business but its “rags” side, with prices ranging from $12 to $40, is “pure fun with soft fabrics at reasonable prices,” she said. She likes clothing to be cozy and enjoys adding a “good quote like ‘I am not a morning person’ on a shirt.” Fashion bras to wear under tops add another layer to her fashion-forward wardrobe line.
Kearney also dabbles in another side of beauty as a consultant with Beautycounter.com, a non-toxic personal care and cosmetics company. “I found it after I kept having reactions to some of the products I was using.” She said the company’s mission is to “get safe products into the hands of everyone, … and they also are involved with government lobbying to get some horrible chemicals banned from the U.S.”
Her tips for starting your own business begin with first realizing how much work is involved. She recommends first working for someone in the industry of your choice before branching out on your own.
Kearney added, “My favorite part about the business is when I buy. … I love picking out beads, charms, et cetera, and meeting all the fabulous friends who have come into my life.”
For more information, visit www.karensrocksandrags.com