My family circa 1970
What I really, really love is Special Stuff. Not in the vague sense of "Oooo...ahhhhh! That's special!" mind you. Special Stuff of immense meaning that never gets thrown out.
My precious, Gollum would say.
Keepsakes and letters, photos and charms, family heirlooms...my collection of portable "touchstones" are non-negotiable. They always move with me.
My father was an only child. His dad was an only child. My dad's mom, my Nana, never threw anything away. You do the math. I am the keeper of a lot of shit.
I left my hometown of Des Moines in 1987 to go to Rhode Island School of Design.
Thus beginneth the Angst Years.
I wore a lot of black back then. Full time student with a full time job scooping ice cream. RISD was intense. I didn't fully recover until my 20th reunion. Then I finally got my diploma framed.
I was so burnt out from making jewelry in college that I did most of my final thesis in paintings! I tried NYC on for size after RISD, then moved to New Orleans with my high school sweetheart. I stopped wearing black. I hopped around managing retail gigs for a few designers for many years. My employers, impressed with my RISD chops, would ask
"Why aren't you making jewelry?"
Whatever. I ran a good store.
Then in 1996, my brother-in-law called to tell me my dad had been found dead.
A battering ram tore through my body.
My dad would not see me married. He would never know my son. I wouldn't be escorted down the aisle on his arm. I would always speak of Dad in the past tense to my boy.
I was suddenly grown up but I felt myself curling, shrinking into a sobbing, abandoned and forgotten once favorite toy.
When it's suicide?
It gives you hardcore Cause for Pause.
I have indeed Paused quite a few times over the twenty years since my dad committed suicide. But back then it was my anguish...my anger...that helped me find the cajones I needed to survive those horrible, excruciating days.
Armed with a new set of balls; feeling I was an expert at anything that life threw at me, I put
on my computer's screen saver and opened Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry in 1998.
I wanted to bring my dog to work with me everyday.
I had become a know-it-all. My pissiness evolved into power.
I thanked my father; I couldn't have done it without him.
People assumed I had inherited money after his death when I would say that.
I didn't. My sister and I got two storage units full of his life.
I inherited his work ethic. I worked my ass off.
I represented hundreds of modern jewelers from all over the world.
I made lifelong friendships with my artists and clients. My gallery was famous. It rocked. I rocked. That high school sweetheart had become my husband and we had the most perfect boy in the world together. La-Ti-Da.
I kept my shame, anger, and guilt about not making jewelry shoved deep, deep down for over 20 years as a jewelry retailer.
All the while, I achieved immense success and was genuinely proud of my career. I was a kick-ass sales person. I had a really good eye and curated an internationally renowned collection.
I survived motherhood, Katrina, BP, 2008, divorce and heartbreak.
But still, my clients frequently asked me where MY jewelry was. I would smile, sweep my arm around my gorgeous showroom and say, "THIS! This is my artwork!" You see, people assumed I had made all of the jewelry in my store.
I didn't say truthfully that I was scared.
I didn't say I felt I wasn't good enough; didn't know what to make.
I didn't say I felt a failure and a phony or I didn't think I could ever measure up to the uber talented artists I represented.
I tried not to think about my dad; my grief.
I didn't think I could let myself be as vulnerable as I was when he died.
I could not bear anything resembling rejection again.
I didn't let people know I prayed for the time to come when I would want make jewelry again.
Fortunately I trusted my journey. My father's devastating death taught me faith and acceptance. Hurricane Katrina and a heartbreaking divorce from my father's son showed me that shit really does happen. I changed my screensaver:
Everything is exactly how it should be.
I couldn't deny it. I literally began waking up every morning dying to make jewelry. So, well, then...I closed my store!
May 31, 2011 marked the First Day of the Rest of My Life.
Living easy breezy, I took off to NYC that summer and went to what I call jewelry camp at the Jewelry Arts Institute. So pumped. So psyched!
I launched my first fine jewelry collection fall 2013.
The lush palette of New Orleans, her vibrant Mardi Gras, her laissez les bons temps rouler inspire the color and mood of my jewelry.
Her iconic architecture fuels my passion for heirloom design and artisan craft.
My desire for casual elegance motivates me to design pieces that are both luxurious and effortless to wear.
My hope is that when you wear my jewelry, you'll feel as awesome as I did making it!
Katy Beh Jewelry was a long time coming and should be the poster child of "A Labor of Love."
I believe taking really good care of yourself is your #1 priority. Yes, you. Eat all that kale and shit, but forgodssake, it is your mental health...your brain, your heart, your spirit that pushes you out of bed day after day.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain
Trust your instincts. Follow your passions. Listen to what makes your heart go pitter-patter. That gorgeous ring you that made you GASP when you first laid eyes on it? Yeah, that one. Buy it. You deserve it.
You are so absolutely worth it.
You will feel so damn hot and sexy and smart and alive and unstoppable! Imagine years from now how priceless this ring will be to your daughter once you share it with her.
"The happiest girls are the prettiest girls"
My happy path has had many, many bumps and potholes...sinkholes even. I call on AA's Serenity Prayer to keep me together. My family, friends and beautiful son.
I get such immense joy from everything about jewelry.
All I want to do everyday is make jewelry. It doesn't suck.
I want to help prevent suicide.
Often, depression is the catalyst of suicide.
My father was most likely depressed for years. We will never know when it began and if he could have been treated.
Depression very often runs in families. My struggle with depression began when I was a pre-teen and was finally diagnosed in my twenties. I sought professional counseling to help me through those post-college years. When Dad died I went to therapy like it was a full time job.
Losing a parent to suicide is something you don't wish on your worst enemy.
I contribute to SAVE.org
SAVE is committed to educating the general public about depressive brain illnesses, the symptoms, possible causes and the need for professional assessment and treatment.
By educating the general public about these illnesses, treatment is encouraged, and the stigma associated with suicide and brain illnesses is reduced or removed.
Today - October 16th, 2018 - marks twenty-two years since I lost my dad.
- with much love -
for Katy Beh Jewelry