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Genue Inc.
August 15, 2017

Genuinely You: Kathryn Black

Kathryn Black is a Virginia Beach native turned Kentucky resident who has her own jewelry business called Meraki Jewelry, which she sells on Etsy and in select retail venues. Read on to hear Kat’s favorite Lexington spots, her favorite “healthy” dessert recipe, and the unique place Kat finds inspiration in…

 

 

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My names Kathryn Black and I have lived in Kentucky for a little over a year now. I am the Admissions and Financial Aid Director at Summit Salon Academy, in addition to selling my jewelry. My husband and I also help out with the college student ministry at our church so a lot of our nights are spent hanging out with those students. Previously, I worked in mortgage for about three years, but my favorite job by far has been working as a barista at a little coffee shop in Virginia Beach called Café Moka. Although I moved to Kentucky to be with my now-husband (who I met on a blind date at a church conference!), I grew up in Virginia Beach, which I think explains a lot of who I am. I love the beach and would spend hour’s eno-ing at Seashore State park if I could. I have always been drawn to water and the beach is definitely a safe haven for me. I love being outside in any shape or form whether it’s hiking or just laying on a blanket in a park.

 

 

How have you made Kentucky feel like home?

It’s so funny—I was actually talking to a friend of mine about this the other day!  Luckily I have found a few hidden gems in Lexington that I feel so at home at. Moving was extremely hard for me, mainly because it was the first time I’ve moved away from my family. My two sisters and I all kind of dispersed around the same time so it was a lot of transition to handle all at once. Initially, I definitely had a few meltdowns with my now husband. But my first week in Lexington, my husband and I were driving around and we passed a place that said “Roastery” on the sign. I looked it up, wondering if it was a coffee roastery, and sure enough, it was! The next day I went there to journal and immediately fell in love! Not only did I love the aesthetic, but the staff was also incredibly friendly. Since my first visit about a year ago, I’ve done a latte art pour off, had a jewelry table to sell Meraki items to costumers, and had my rehearsal dinner there! A couple other places I have fallen in love with is Granola Culture yoga studio and Kentucky Native, a greenhouse cafe.

 

 

 

How did you get started jewelry making?

I started by having craft nights at my parents’ house about once a week where I would just bring things over to make. One of the first pieces I made was a wired wrapped tree (which I guess stores are now selling) and then moved onto bullet necklaces. I would just buy items from Michaels and start making different things with them. I have always loved creating things with my hands. I think that is why I loved being a Barista so much—especially learning how to do different latte art. Now, if I see something I like in the store or on Pinterest, I will try to make it myself first before spending the money to buy it. That is what lead me to making macramé pieces because I always thought they were so beautiful but so expensive to buy online. I have made a couple pieces more just for fun! I like to think I am pretty creative in the meals I cook as well ;).

 

 

How do you feel inspired in the kitchen? And what’s your favorite “healthy” dessert treat? 

I actually just recently decided to make a food blog after a couple friends convinced me. I love putting things together that you normally wouldn’t think would pair well. I normally try to make a somewhat healthy version of a recipe I find since my husband, Jimmy, and I are pretty active. A friend of mine got a cookbook from Anthropologie off my wedding registry and I absolutely love it. If you follow me on social media long enough, you’ll definitely see me post a Paleo Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie. That has to be my all-time favorite dessert! I normally put some So Delicious Vanilla Bean ice cream on top. It was a recipe I stumbled across on Pinterest and it has become a staple in my kitchen.

 

 

What prompted you to start your business, Meraki Jewelry?

In 2014 I started making bullet necklaces and wire wrapped pieces during my weekly craft nights at my parents. A friend of mine who had seen my jewelry told me her manager at a local surf shop, Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV), was interested in selling my work. That is when I came up with my side business, Meraki Jewelry. I always loved making unique jewelry for people to wear so when my friend reached out to me, I thought why not turn something I love doing into a side job. When I first started I sold all my pieces for dirt cheap because it wasn’t about the money for me, it was just something I was truly passionate about. After selling at WRV, I branched out to other boutiques in the area and ended up selling my jewelry in three other stores within a year. I opened up my own Etsy page as well as an Instagram account as a way to reach more customers.

 

 

How you make time for your creative passions as you juggle everything else you have to do?

It has definitely been hard to find time to make my jewelry since it’s a time-consuming process—each piece can take up to three hours to make. With my work schedule, I am off every third Monday so I am able to utilize that time to go to the jewelry studio. My husband also bought me most of the tools I need to make things at home for my birthday this past year so I am able to make simple things whenever I do have a free night. I wish I could dedicate more time to it, but for now, I take advantage of every chance I can get.

 

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me is waking up early to spend some time with God, reading my bible and praying. Then, I get ready for work and arrive at work 15 minutes early to open up the school. After work I normally will have time set up to just hang out with a friend or go to the gym before a ministry event. My favorite part is the end of the day when I get to come home and just relax with my husband. Our favorite thing to do is pig out on some kind of ice cream or “healthy” dessert. My weekdays are pretty much the same so I long for the weekends when I have free time to go to farmer’s markets, go hiking, or just be by our apartment pool.

 

 

Where do you draw inspiration from? What do you do/where do you go if you want to feel inspired?

My love for turquoise jewelry actually came from my grandma on my dad’s side. She lived in Denver, Colorado and had the most beautiful collection of authentic Indian jewelry. Because of her influence, I have always been attracted to pieces like that, and wanted to learn how to make my own when I started making jewelry. I think hiking trips probably inspire me the most since I am nowhere near a beach now, which is bittersweet. Nature just seems to help me completely clear my head.

 

 

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

I honestly love having customers from all around the world. I had someone recently reach out to me through Instagram wanting a suede druzy wrap and I found out after shipping it to her she was out in California. One of the coolest things was seeing pictures of people I was friends with on Instagram wearing a piece of mine that they bought from WRV. It is such a cool experience seeing people wear my pieces to accessorize their outfits and know that they really appreciate the time and effort I put into it.

 

 

Genue celebrates designers, makers and creatives that are unabashedly themselves. What does it mean to be “genuinely you”?

Many people have told me that I am just unashamedly me. I think growing up I have just cared less about outside opinions and really just portray myself for who I am. Which means a goofy, a tad awkward, fun-loving, free spirit. I figure what’s the point in wanting people to like you if they like someone who isn’t really you.

 

 

Thanks so much, Kathryn! Now go check out her incredible work on Instagram and Etsy!

 

 

 

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