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Customer Spotlight - Myra Schwartz

Customer Spotlight

With three unique jewelry lines, Myra Schwartz needed an affordable, high quality way to market her various ventures. From show/sale postcards, to business cards, rack cards and note cards, she’s relied on Modern to help showcase her amazing talents and jewelry. Her business card even caught our eye and is now a featured sample on our website. To learn more about Myra, we decided to get in touch. What we found out is that she has been on quite the incredible journey.

We’d like to know where your passion for mixed metal and beaded jewelry stems from and how long you’ve been creating these wonderful works of art.

Thank you so much for your interest in my jewelry! I have been working exclusively with jewelry for about 20 years, although I’ve been collecting beads since the 1970’s, so it is indeed a long time passion. An innate need to create has led me through various art media, including printmaking, photography and fiber sculpture, but jewelry and beadwork turned out to be my true creative home.

The mixed metals came about out of necessity. Over the years, I often combined sterling or gold-filled wire into my beadwork. When the precious metals market began steadily climbing, I began searching for other less costly metals to incorporate into my jewelry as well. Budgets can sometimes generate creativity. Now I really enjoy mixing metals and using a variety of materials in my work.

Tell us all about your kidney jewelry – why did you start making such interesting pieces and how have you used them to help support the Kidney Foundation among others?

In addition to being an artist, I am also a longtime kidney patient who wanted to create something to represent that part of my life’s journey. I was on kidney dialysis for 10 years and in 2002, I received the amazing gift of a kidney transplant from a very heroic cousin. I’m fortunate to be able to create something positive from the experience of Chronic Kidney Disease. Making jewelry is very healing and peaceful work for me. While on dialysis, I began making kidney jewelry when I noticed some kidney shaped glass beads at a gem show. I purchased them to produce some personal jewelry pieces, but other patients saw them and asked about ordering. Soon after that, my local Kidney Foundation invited me to sell the jewelry at a transplant patient seminar and there was more interest than I could have imagined, so I knew there would be a market for what I was doing.

When websites became easy to create for the novice, I developed a site with all kidney shaped items simply called kidneyjewelry.com. Jewelry pieces on this website are meant to be talismans, or special objects of significance. They are simple tokens of personal journeys or symbols of gratitude for organ donors. They help bring conversation and awareness to the issues of kidney disease.

Although I began by just filling a personal need for something I couldn’t locate, it turned out to be something that people around the world also were searching for and delighted to find. The pieces seem to touch people in special ways and say something that is often difficult to put into words. The website has over 100 items that can be given as gifts to kidney transplant recipients, kidney donors and medical professionals. I donate a portion of each sale to kidney patient education programs at the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and also to a national kidney patient group, the Renal Support Network. I am very proud to have donated thousands of dollars so far as a result of my website sales.

In what ways do you put Modern’s products to work for your business?

Modern Postcard has been an affordable and high quality way to market all three lines of my jewelry. I have different marketing materials for each line including show/sale postcards and business cards. I also add new business cards each year with different images of my work. The range of marketing pieces you provide helps to continually project a professional image and customers have told me they collect the cards.

What type of products do you use and why?

For kidneyjewelry.com, I have both postcards and business cards with professionally photographed images of my jewelry. I was very pleased with the printing results and noticed that you used my business card as a sample on your website, so I took that as a compliment! I appreciate the savings when reordering duplicate print jobs.

For my higher end line of necklaces which incorporate antique carved tobacco pipes with collectible beads, I have Modern make informational rack cards as well as note cards which I use as thank you notes or for writing bead legends for my more elaborate necklaces. In addition, there are annual sale postcards as well as several business cards using a similar design but with different necklace images on the front.

What new works do you have in the making and where can our readers get more information about your line of jewelry?

My Pipe Series is ongoing. As of this writing, I’ve created over 100 pieces in this higher end series with no end in sight. The extraordinary antique carved pipes that I use as focal beads are steppingstones to creating my one-of-a-kind heirloom pieces. There is an undeniable connection to the unknown artists who created these little pipes over 100 years ago. As I rescue them for their second life and integrate them into my beadwork, I am continually inspired by their artistry and history. To read about the antique pipes and see the current selection in my Pipe Series, please go to www.pipedreamer.net.

As for my kidney jewelry, I'm always on the hunt for beads in a perfect kidney shape or for other artists interested in creating kidney beads out of glass, metal, or other materials, which I then purchase to create pendants. I’ve been asked to also add jewelry in the shape of other transplanted organs, such as livers, lungs and hearts, so am now seeking and adding those to my website pages. My next step is to increase visibility of these new pieces on an updated website. More people find my site each year so I have now sold miniature kidney pieces to all but 3 states and to 7 countries, which feels like a good start. The current website is www.kidneyjewelry.com (I know, not a very creative name, but it comes up first in the search engines!).

My third website is my namesake, www.myraschwartz.com. It includes my moderately priced, one-of-a-kind beaded pieces as well as the mixed metal series. I work from a collection of beads and components that is pretty staggering at this point, so it feels like I have an entire bead store at my fingertips. I feel lucky every day that I am able to follow my passion and work with beads. They are full of texture, color, beauty, fascinating history, and great inspiration. The work nourishes my spirit and hopefully, that of my customers.

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I am busy... and my clients count on me to make the right decisions for their projects. I know I'm going to get the best... and I know it's going to happen when I want it and how I want it.
Ralph Barnes
Designer