Meet artisan jewelry designer Natalie McClelland
Natalie McClelland’s jewelry line, Sunkissed Earth, is carefree and casual. Her pieces combine round beads, gemstones and tassels with simple cords and delicately woven macramé. She prefers the imperfect—handmade beads rather than machine-made ones so each piece is unique—and the meaningful, researching the healing properties of gemstones and the significance of charms before curating them into her designs. And rather than use leather and other traditional materials, she focuses on alternative ones: wax cotton in lieu of leather, acrylic pearls, and tassels that look like suede but aren’t.
Her Etsy shop was an instant success and her bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and eyeglass holders are popping up in more and more local stores. Here, she talks about how she got started, her inspiration, and more.
On her background:
“As a kid, I used to go to day camp and spend hours making bead jewelry. When I went to college, I got back into it. And then life got busy. I had kids. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I saw some bracelets that were ridiculously priced and thought, ‘it looks like something I could make,’ that I started looking at YouTube and teaching myself how to make them. And I realized how much I loved it. It was so meditative for me. When I got back to working with my hands, it was a life-changer. I felt at peace.”
On starting a business:
“At some point, I had to tell myself you can’t wait any longer. Just put it out there and tell people you’re doing this. I had gotten back into making it for myself and some friends so it was a combination of that and realizing I could make quality jewelry that fit right, and I could sell it at a good price point—it all came together at the same time. I started looking at Etsy and it seemed like the perfect place to test it out. I got an amazing response right away. Now Sunkissed Earth is my full-time work.”
On what inspires her:
“Most of my inspiration comes from nature. I’m always looking around at colors that go together and I like to look at different textures and patterns. If I’m in another city, I go to bead stores. Beadazzler Beads in Overland Park is a wealth of information. They’re kind of my local go-to. And I love Bella Patina. I don’t have any formal design training so I like to mix different types of wood with different gemstones and just see what works.”
On creating vegan jewelry:
“I knew from my marketing background I needed a niche. I wanted to make things out of hemp and wax leather so I chose vegan jewelry as the overall theme. It really resonates with a lot of people. I’m a huge animal lover, I’m vegetarian, and there’s a lot of leather jewelry I would’ve liked but wouldn’t buy because it was leather. You can make similar styles and not use leather.”
On what’s next:
“I’m going to expand my line of malas, which are inspired by the traditional Buddhist meditation beads. I’m doing mala necklaces now and I’m combining lava stones with my wrist malas. They’re porous so they can act as a distiller for essential oils.”