“I have a knack for antique-y, I guess grandma-style things. So that’s basically where I draw my inspiration from,” Kim Cleary says. “I collect teacups, I collect rotary telephones.” 

Cleary has made her art into a living, starting her own line of jewelry called Velvet Snow Accessories. When it comes to choosing accessories, Cleary knows that people are looking for unique items they can’t get anywhere else, especially if it’s done by a local artist. The website for Velvet Snow is filled with close-up photos of darling rose earrings in shades of a pastel rainbow, cameo necklaces, and hair clips.

Photo by Victoria Snelgrove

Photo by Victoria Snelgrove

She started Velvet Snow Accessories back in 2009 and since then she’s developed an aesthetic best described as “very Victorian.” It appeals to anyone who’s nostalgic for the designs found in antique shops and without the price tag that comes with digging around.

“There are a lot of jewelers in general, not just in the city but in general. And I think if you want to stand out and be successful you have to have a unique product,” she explains.

She got into crafts while working at Michaels Craft Store a few years ago. At the same time a penpal in the UK was sending handmade jewelry to Cleary. So one day she brought home a few supplies from work and tried it out for herself and loved it. After some experimenting, she found her preferred method for making jewelry: mixing epoxy resin with dye, and setting it into a mold.

“I have no formal design training; I did a lot of Skype tutorials and a lot of online videos when I was learning how to work with the resin. It wasn’t easy. There’s a lot of trial and error at first.”

From hobby to business 

“I just started it as a hobby, I made bracelets for friends and made necklaces for peoples’ birthdays. You know, just as a hobby. And back when there was a flea market in the Avalon mall I decided to rent a table, and set up around Christmastime and I started making sales. It kind of snowballed from there. It’s come a long way.”

She’s been in business for five years and her pieces can be bought online from her website, velvetsnowaccessories.com, and she’s had orders from as far away as Norway and Australia. And for anyone who has something more specific and personal in mind, Cleary also does custom orders.

Twisted Sisters Boutik also carries Cleary’s work, as well as apatiteclothing.com. Cleary can sometimes be found at the St. John’s Farmer’s Market. They’ll also be sold at Salt Box Studios, the Skin Spa on Bates Hill, as well as Forget Me Knot Wedding Boutique when they open. At the moment, Cleary is negotiating with six other stores who’re interested in carrying her product.

What started off as a hobby has become a full-time job. “I do part-time work at a bar as well, mainly just for social reasons. But this is my number one thing,” she says. “I spend more time at this than I do anything else. And some weeks I work up to 60 hours a week on this. But I don’t see it as work. I really enjoy what I do. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a livelihood as well, which is amazing.”