A signature flower is almost always worked into Love Designs' hand-wrapped wire chokers, chunky vintage bracelets and eco-friendly scarves. Sometimes the bud is a gentle-looking Lucite adornment — subtle, feminine, classic. Other times, it's a bold, loud acrylic flower that pops off a string of beads.
"Flowers add a hint of femininity to everything," says Hannah Forsper, who created the line with her sister, Joy Bennington.
The siblings, who live in Chardon, began designing jewelry five years ago when a friend showed them how to make a simple bracelet using gemstones and beads. "We got hooked," Bennington says. "The idea of being able to create something beautiful that people would love to wear and we would love to wear — this is something we can do at home, and we enjoy it."
Bennington, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mother of three boys, took art classes throughout high school and was drawn to charcoal, watercolor and acrylic paint. About 15 years ago, she worked in her father-in-law's business, B & J Displays, designing Christmas displays.
Forsper, 30, says jewelry-making has given her an outlet for self-expression she never had. "I love how my creative juices can flow and how relaxing it is," she says. "It's a way for me to spend some time with myself." And as a mother of a newborn and a 3-year-old, alone time is hard to come by.
But the sisters work together to create a line of jewelry honoring their maiden name, Love. What differentiates Love Designs from other Etsy shops is their technique and commitment to quality, Bennington says. The sisters incorporate hand-wrapping, wire-wrapping and hand-knotting into pieces, and they seek out quality beads and supplies — Swarovski crystal pearls, Chalcedony and flower cabochons (polished, shaped gemstones).
The sisters are inspired by nature, textures and patterns. They share ideas and swap techniques. Forsper will learn a skill (like wire-wrapping) on YouTube and show Bennington.
The online venue works for these two busy moms. But their long-term goal is to expand beyond the two boutiques where their jewelry is currently displayed: The Nest in Tremont and Bodies Pilates in Chardon. They'd like to one day open their own shop.
"Someplace quaint that would fit our jewelry well," Forsper says. "For now," Bennington pipes in, "we like the versatility — being able to work at home and take care of our families."