my story

I was born in Seoul, South Korea and was raised in the Chicago area and now live and work on Dakota and Ojibwe homelands in Minneapolis in Mni-Sota / Minnesota. 

For as long as I can remember I have loved jewelry and have always been fascinated by fashion and the arts in general. I started subscribing to Vogue, Elle, and Glamour when I was twelve and could have named a couple dozen fashion models, despite not being raised by fashion-y people or knowing anyone else who shared my minor obsession!

photo credit: David Boyer

I was a creative, artsy kid who was eager to learn, who learned to read early (age 3) and read pretty much everything. From my little suburban corner in the midwest, I wanted to know about the world. I had two parents and an older brother, and I grew up a mere two blocks away from my maternal grandmother, Eleanor, who had several boxes of costume jewelry from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. My mother took her to garage and estate sales every weekend during the summer sale season, as that was one of Eleanor’s beloved later-in-life hobbies. Every year she would hold a busy garage sale selling many items she had gotten at some point at garage sales herself but had tired of and needed to part with in order to make room for more objets. She was in possession of a respectable Hummel figurine collection, hobnailed milk glass candy dishes (one shaped like a chicken which always amused me), miscellaneous vintage blue glass bottles, and more. Yet her house was not filled to the brim or messy by any means, so she must have kept things cycling out at a reasonable rate. 

One of things my grandmother would do to keep me busy as a young girl was to let me go through her jewelry and once in a while she would let me take something home. I remember a lot of neon pinks and greens and oranges of the 70s, necklaces with huge fake pearls and bright beads, metal brooches in the shape of multi-petaled flowers, rhinestone-encrusted brooches in the shape of “exotic” animals like elephants, jaguars, and peacocks. I marveled at their infinite variety, their dazzling reflections, and their sense of the world in miniature, accessible in the palm of a curious and impressionable child’s hand. 

I learned a lot, over time, from Eleanor, who grew beautiful roses in her backyard garden, which I was sent out of the house to water, which looking back was probably just another way of keeping me busy and out of her small house with little for children to do. I remember their fairytale-esque patterns as they wound up around the trellises in her small backyard, which seemed huge to me then. 

Eleanor grew up in Chicago in a poor working-class family; she was one of twelve children, of which half died of early childhood illnesses such as influenza. Her father was not a successful breadwinner and so she left school in 6th grade to work at a deli. Eventually she was able to open her own small lunch counter in downtown and support herself. She met and married my grandfather who was in the U.S. Coast Guard. After he left the military, he became a truck driver, who harbored a dream of opening a golf pro shop (which he never did, but he did own a lot of golf clubs) and my grandmother had and raised their two children, including my mom, and did not work outside of the home again.  

My grandmother never had a lot of money; she had a tidy, modest suburban home. Like many people who came of age during the Great Depression, she was extremely frugal to the point of extremity, and like many people of previous generations, she worked hard not to waste much of anything. Furniture was built to last and food was grown in the backyard when possible and almost always home cooked. The fast, everything-is-disposable culture that we have today would have been unheard of in her childhood.

During the pandemic, I was privileged to be able to mostly work from home, as a book author, poet, writer, equity consultant, and adjunct college teacher. My work as a craniosacral therapist came to a standstill, and my hands and spirit missed that kind of embodied work. While I was gardening and growing vegetables during the summer, which was gratifying, by the time the fall of 2020 rolled around, I was feeling isolated and stifled by all the computer work I had to do to support myself. I realized I needed to make something with my hands, and with less driving around and nowhere to go and little to do outside the home, I realized I could pick up my very occasional hobby of making jewelry for myself and perhaps see if other people liked it and wanted to buy it. Buying staples like paper towels online instead of going to the store had me shopping more online, which also meant more time on Instagram to keep up with my friends and artists. I saw other people selling their handmade jewelry online and realized that I had time to learn some new skills and already had a lot of the basic tools. I loved creating new designs and seeing the elements I could obtain and put together in ways that reflected my love of nature, myths, archetypes, and universal and ancient symbols such as the sun, moon, stars, water, and iconic animals such as pythons, cicadas, koi, and tigers. 

As a poet and tarot reader, I experience symbols as profoundly important as portals to our collective consciousness, to help guide us to our inner selves and our higher purposes for the greatest good for our planet and all living things. 

As a Korean, I’m an animist and believe all things, including rocks and stones, have a spirit. 

Each piece I design is infused with my spirit and care for the ways that we adorn ourselves as living beings, as cultural beings, as beings who use self-decoration to express and communicate who we are and what we care about, and to whom we may belong. 

I aspire to purchase elements that have been ethically mined or manufactured and this is something I am working on. I would love to use all recycled metal and biodegradable elements eventually, as well as learn to solder, weld, and form my own metal pieces. Goals! 

Thank you for visiting my online store and sharing in this adventure with me. 

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