Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Indie Jewelry: ChezChani Jewelry October 28, 2008

Posted by Marjorie Cunningham, broken china jewelry designer at Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry

ChezChani, an independent jewelry business located in Las Vegas, NV, consists of the mother/daughter team of Roz and Elayne. ChezChani is pronounced Shay Sh-Ann-ee and their jewelry is quite unique.

Elayne, who also works in a Las Vegas casino, creates fabulous peyote stitch designs, including this one-of-a-kind black and cream freeform peyote bracelet with a cameo closure below.

Roz does all of the beautiful glass and wire wrapping work, like this stunning glass leaf pendant cabochon. As they say in their shop, it looks as though this leaf has been frozen in time, encased in a smooth milky white glass.

I asked Elayne how she and Roz became interested in making jewelry and here’s her reply.

“I was an obsessive candlemaker. While at a craft show, we were next to a jewelry booth. Having dabbled in a little beading years earlier, it sparked a fire and suddenly I decided I just had to make some jewelry. After a few months of stringing braclets and necklaces together, I decided to take a class in Peyote at an LBS. The picture of the ring was reminiscent of the Tiffany ring I had always wanted but was too frugal to treat myself to. A new obsession was born and I’ve been doing nothing but Peyote stitch since. I hope to branch out someday but this passion shows no signs of abating.

“Roz was a frustrated crafter all her life, too busy raising an unappreciative family and working to give in to her temptations. Now semi-retired and living in a community that has groups and classes in so many crafts, she has been able to fulfill her desire. She began in ceramics but then a lovely piece of glass caught her eye. Starting with plates and vases, eventually she saw the beauty in smaller pieces of glass as jewelry and this is where her passion now lies.”

I also asked Elayne if she had any advice for jewelry designers who are just starting out in the business.

“The only advice I can give is love what you do. Find the artistic outlet that lights your fire and go from there. If you don’t love it, don’t bother. Also, if you want to eventually make a living at it, don’t get addicted to Peyote. I don’t think you could ever get paid for your time with something that is so slow to make.”

Elayne has a busy schedule, working a full time job in addition to creating jewelry. Here’s how she manages.

“I have a fairly rigid schedule for everything but beading. I work full time and go to the gym or pool 5 days a week. I can only get myself to do this by having a schedule. Every other possible minute is devoted to beading because that’s what I love to do. Because Peyote takes so much time, I don’t need to be creatively inspired all the time. One inspiration for a bracelet and I’ve got hours, days, and weeks of work ahead of me. Some bracelets can take me over a week to finish due to time constraints.”

Elayne works in a small locals casino as a poker supervisor. She’s celebrating her 5-year anniversary Nov. 1. She was living in LA and worked in TV casting for many years. Needing a change, she came to Vegas to stay with her mom, went to poker school, and never went back to LA except to pack and sell her condo. To me, working in LA sounds very exciting. Elayne tells me that it’s a sometimes fun, sometimes hair pulling job. She has to break up fights (he started it, no he did!) and cut off those who’ve had too much to drink. When there is a dealer error or any kind of controversy, she has to make the decision which almost always leaves one person angry. She says it’s a tough time for casinos right now and she’s lucky to have a job. Poker rooms, which make very little money for casinos, have started closing and downsizing.

I also talked to Elayne about how she goes about marketing the jewelry that she and her mother design. They have a shop on Etsy where their jewelry is available for purchase. She also wears her jewelry and talks about it a lot. She shows it to people but in a non-saleslike way—just sort of “Look what I made!” She also tries to work on her jewelry where people can watch her, which sparks people’s curiosity, which gives her an opportunity to answer questions and give out her business card. Because of her schedule, Elayne can’t do craft shows and she doesn’t feel Las Vegas is a great craft town. Roz is able to do a few shows but it’s hard to schedule as she does temp work. They’re also doing some social marketing, blog, twitter, which they’re having fun with.

Elayne is a cat and animal lover and she creates  jewelry for pets too! Here’s an example of her work. It closes with velcro and can be custom ordered with names or initials.

They welcome custom orders. Here’s the link again to their shop on Etsy. And also check out Elayne’s blog where she’ll keep you up-to-date on all that’s happening at ChezChani.