Age • 53
City • University City
Family • Husband, Tom; two grown children: Tess, 23 and Tommy, 20
What she makes • Karen is a jewelry designer and owner of Tess Jewelry Studio. She named her company after her daughter, Tess. She makes suede-wrapped strands of pearls. To view her items, visit tessjewelry.net. To reach her, call 314-941-2429 or email email@example.com. Her items are available at 10denza, 44 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End and at Mister Guy Women’s, 9815 Clayton Road in Ladue.
Tell us about yourself. • I have worked in retail my adult life. I was in management at the Limited for 10 years, and worked at Vie (in the Ladue market) for 12 years. I left retail about three years ago and wanted to stay in the world of fashion, so I decided to build my business.
What type of jewelry do you make? • My pieces are pearls, hand knotted with suede. I use different colors of pearls and different sizes. I incorporate stones, turquoise, carved wooden beads and other findings. I try to find unusual things to add to the pearls.
Explain your pearl necklace? • Each one-of-a-kind piece is made with pearls and intended to be worn in multiple ways, whether wrapped, layered, tied, looped or draped. Tess Jewelry has a unique flair that mixes elegance with everyday, casual with chic.
How long are your pearl necklaces? • Most of my pieces are 43 inches long and are very labor-intensive.
Why pearls? • The whole reason I started making pearl necklaces, is because I love them so much and love to wear multiples. I have a jewelry box full of tons of accessories, but I grab my pearl necklaces over anything else.
Is this your full-time job? • Yes. I’m working hard to accumulate more retail stores. I love the process of making the necklaces, but I also love the retail side.
What are your prices? • My necklaces range from $240 to $300.
Do you have a favorite jewelry designer? • Yes. Miguel Ases is a favorite jewelry designer for chandelier earrings. Safia Day is another favorite, and I can mix her pieces in with mine.
Any hobbies? • I bike in Forest Park, and work out (at a gym) in Clayton. I try to walk to as many places as possible. I’m fortunate to have friends in Mexico and Colorado. I get to enjoy the beach and the mountains quite often.
What else do you make? • I also make leather collars with vintage pins with a friend of mine, Maryann Schwartz. They retail for $240 each and the collars can be found at 10Denza.
Every week, we feature a St. Louis-area home to showcase, usually because of its great style; but sometimes, just being quirky earns it the distinction.