Kelly Campbell began her unique jewelry line six years ago when she turned an expired credit card into a fashion statement.
“I had an old Visa credit card and decided to make a pair of earrings out of it,” Campbell says. “My mom wore them and received positive feedback.”
Since then, her innovative idea has turned into a successful business, Kellybeth Designs. Campbell and her twin sister, Katie, create eco-friendly bracelets, earrings, and necklaces out of recycled plastic cards. Her handmade creations are sold on her website and in boutiques across the country.
“I used to go to Target and ask to look through their trash,” Campbell says. “Now that people know about my business, friends will give me their old gift cards.”
Campbell—whose pieces retail for around $30—represents a jewelry niche that has gained in popularity in the wake of the financial crisis. “Innovative costume jewelry, especially the very inexpensive pieces, sell well because most people will take a chance with their fashion choices if they aren’t spending more than $100,” Andrea Rosenfeld, independent jeweler and artist, says. “They won’t be as committed as they would to a piece that retails in the high hundreds or thousands.”
When asked about her creative process, Campbell says that each of her pieces start as a vision in her head. “The designs build on each other,” she says. “Once I have an idea for a piece, I sit down, cut up the credit cards, and assemble the jewelry by hand.”
In 2009, a trip to the Dominican Republic further sparked Campbell’s creativity. “As I was walking around the community, I saw a woman sewing a rice bag, and asked her if she could make a purse out if it,” Campbell says. She then began selling the bags in the U.S. as part of the I Heart DR line, donating the profits back to the women in the Dominican Republic.
Campbell’s creations, which allow shoppers to wear stylish pieces without wearing out their own credit cards, are sold in a variety of trendy store locations. But what can fine jewelry retailers do if they are interested in breaking into this market?
“If a retailer wants to offer innovative pieces that are much less money than their fine jewelry price points, I would suggest sectioning off a portion of their cases for a tightly merchandised collection and bringing in pieces that aren’t at all similar to the design concept of their fine pieces,” Rosenfeld says. “This way they can offer something truly unique to their clients and it won’t compete with their finer pieces.”