Every so often, a girl comes across either a fashion or jewelry designer who just really “gets” her style. My new favorite just happened to reach out to me via email and coincidentally was going to be a vendor at the Salem Arts Festival which I was covering for Creative Salem and this blog. I was thrilled to get to meet Laura Henkin of Rhode Island-based LnK Designs, and for those of you like me who enjoy getting jewelry even more than clothes, you must check out her Etsy shop. Not only does Laura create unique, eye-catching and sturdy pieces of jewelry, but supporting her business means helping a fellow New Englander continue to do what she loves and I’m always down for that!
Before I was to meet Laura, I checked out her Etsy shop and loved what I saw. Not only does Laura handcraft a variety of metal jewelry with Swarovski crystals, but she also makes fashionable dog collars and leashes with these crystals as well as popular soaps with Lego figurines inside, delightful gifts for children that receive great reviews from customers. Laura also handmakes ornate Swedish Star Lights out of wood. They are such intricate artistic pieces and were accepted into the juried gallery at the Salem Arts Festival.
When I arrived at the festival that Friday evening, I spotted one of Laura’s Star Lights illuminating its space, softly glowing and beautifully carved. After seeing this in person, I knew she was very talented and I couldn’t wait to view her jewelry. I found the LnK Designs tent the second day of the festival and clearly wasn’t the only one impressed by her work. I wanted to speak with her but she was so busy with adoring customers that I had to wait a bit, which I didn’t mind at all! I was able to browse and see her pretty and fun products up close that I had only previously seen online. I seriously wanted all the jewelry I saw. I once saw an internet meme that stated, “Be with someone who gives you the same feeling as when you see your food coming at a restaurant.” Well, I am obsessed with food but I get that same feeling from seeing jewelry that I really love, and I was certainly feeling it at the LnK Designs tent.
After the crowd cleared, I was able to speak with Laura in person so I could feature her in my Creative Salem piece about why the Salem Arts Festival was important to artists in the community. She was so sweet and I was instantly glad to be featuring her in two posts. I got to learn what led Laura to start the LnK Designs business, and I can’t thank her enough for telling me her story. To quote my article for Creative Salem, this is how Laura began her journey with jewelry and her other pieces:
For years, Laura worked in a variety of business environments. When very difficult times struck after Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and her father passed away during the same time period, she turned to art. Laura explained, “I needed an outlet, so I started making things with my hands.” As a way to honor her late father, she began carving intricate Swedish lights out of wood, a few of which were featured in the Juried Gallery in Old Town Hall during the festival.
From there, she branched out into making jewelry. “It made me feel good, and it made me heal,” she said. Being a part of the Salem Arts Festival is exciting to Laura because of her hometown roots. “I grew up in Salem, so I have a strong connection with it. My first job was a Tour Guide at the Salem Witch House…I had to dress like a Puritan! This is coming home for me, and it’s very special to me,” she stated. Laura felt the all-around positivity that the Salem Arts Festival brought to the city, and we were certainly feeling it too.
I was so inspired by Laura’s story. She is truly an example of taking negative circumstances and turning them into highly positive outcomes, a successful business built on doing something she enjoys tremendously. You go, Laura! After speaking with her, I got to choose three of her jewelry pieces to feature here, and I must have made pretty darn good decisions because I’ve gotten so many compliments on my LnK Designs jewelry since!
This first piece is one of my favorites and one of Laura’s bestsellers. It is the Volcano Swarovski Crystal Cuff Bracelet, available in either Silver Ox or Brass Ox and your choice of stone color. I chose the silver cuff with green-blue crystals. As someone who loves jewelry but is unfortunately capable of great accidental destruction with it, Laura really sold me when she described how sturdy this piece was, and I agree with her 100% on that matter. The metal band and hinge are very strong while not being too heavy on the wrist. The crystals are set tightly into the bracelet, so I have no worries about one falling out. I have worn this every day since receiving it at the Salem Arts Festival and am always having friends grab my wrist to admire it! No wonder this is one of the top-selling items.
The second jewelry item that I’ve been wearing from Lnk Designs is this absolutely adorable Salem witch bangle bracelet with a red Swarovski crystal, one of the colors of Salem High School where Laura graduated from. I love how the bracelet is able to open larger to put on, and will return back to its normal size after doing so. It looks daintier than the cuff bracelet but when you feel it, it is a well-built piece. Laura has a wide variety of these bangle bracelets with different charms and crystals; there is something for everyone! She also makes colorful beaded bangles to pair up with the charm pieces.
Laura showed me this beautiful necklace and I fell in love. How can you not be mesmerized by that hypnotically beautiful sapphire-colored Swarovski crystal in the center? It’s like your own personal Hope Diamond! I’m very big into dark blues (mainly because I love anything nautical which means lots of blue and white combos, as you can see from my shirt). This necklace is surely a stunner and can be paired with an outfit for going out on the town or can be used to dress up a more casual wardrobe. I’m a fairly casual girl myself, so it’s normally the latter for me. Either way, all eyes will be on you with this pretty piece.
I’m so grateful to Laura for immensely adding to my jewelry collection with these awesome pieces, and it makes me happy to know that they are crafted locally here in New England. Although I had spoken with her at the Salem Arts Festival, I was curious to know more about the background behind LnK Designs, so I had an email Q&A with Laura afterwards. Check it out and see which New England events you can find her at next!
1. Where does the “LnK” in LnK Designs come from?(I’m guessing the L is from Laura!) The L is indeed for Laura and the K is for my sister Kate who originally intended to create more for the shop but had to concentrate on her busy career as a Boston chef.2. Where do you get the inspiration for your jewelry designs? Most of my inspiration comes from finding happiness and peace within. I do lean towards making things that are ocean or nature-inspired.3. When you want to make a new piece, do you just have an idea in your head and begin crafting it into the product? Or do you draw things out first, etc.? I do just operate from a general idea in my head and then I start crafting and see where that idea leads me. Using this method, I do have discarded failed attempts before I feel things are just right!4. What is your favorite item to make? I do like what I do, so anytime making and creating is awesome. But, if I have to choose, I truly love making the Star Lights. I make them when I am quiet and peaceful. I started making them in honor of my father who passed away. Because of that, I often find myself thinking about happy times spent with my Dad. Making the Star Lights and carving wood is a very therapeutic thinking and doing activity for me. From start to finish, the entire project of one star light including sanding, staining and drying can take about a week now. I’m getting faster and more accurate with time.5. I know that you began working with wood first in making your Swedish Star Lights. What got you into the metals side of art and was it hard to begin making things that way or was it easier after having got your start with wood? I’ve just always been kind of handy with projects and taking up different activities in my free time and having great teachers.6. What is your bestselling item? My bestselling items are split between my Volcano Swarovski Crystal Cuff Bracelet and my soaps with with minifigures inside.7. You attend a lot of festivals and fairs! Where can New Englanders who would like to see your products in person find you this summer? I am very excited to participate in the Northeast Comic Con event at Shriner’s Auditorium on 6/20 & 21! After that, I have plans to be in South Kingstown, RI at the Field of Artisan pop-up markets on Matunek Town Beach on 6/28 and on Old Mountain Field for the 4th of July weekend. I will be up in Salem again for the Jazz & Soul Festival down the Willows on 8/15 and 8/16 and for the BizBaz on 10/3 and 10/4. This is just to name a few of my events. I keep my Facebook page update with all events at www.facebook.com/LnKDesignsJewelry.