LAWRENCEVILLE - Lost Your Marbles? We Found 'Em!
That's the tagline for 13-year-old Andrew Reaster's jewelry designs - necklaces and earrings that feature marbles of various sizes and color combinations.
Andrew's business endeavor, which he began in the past couple of months, grew out of a fifth-grade school project in which he was asked to design and market a product. The money Andrew makes on the sale of his jewelry designs will go toward paying for college.
Andrew's work on his marble jewelry is therapeutic, his mom, Kathy Lemoine, said. The youth has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity, bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The medication he has been taking for those conditions has resulted in diabetes and poor blood circulation, which limits the length of time he can remain standing.
"He has struggled and struggled and struggled," Lemoine said. "He's got all this negative, but we won't let him see it that way."
After Andrew resurrected his fifth-grade project and began making necklace after necklace, he and Lemoine found they had more pieces of jewelry than they knew what to do with.
"I made so many of them, we had to get rid of them," Andrew said.
Lemoine, who wears one of the first necklaces Andrew made after picking up the project again, began looking for businesses interested in selling her son's pieces. The necklaces and earrings can now be found in stores in Helen, Dahlonega and Charleston and at Sparkle, located on the square in downtown Lawrenceville, a store that specializes in artisan jewelry.
Owner Meg Earhart initially purchased 20 necklaces made with small marbles and 20 made with larger ones, as well as earrings.
"I love the way they look," said Meg Earhart, who owns Sparkle. "Of course, I love the story. I like to focus on the people behind the art so there is a little bit more of a connection. I think people like to own something that they can tell a little bit more about its connection."
Within a week after stocking Andrew's designs in the store, Sparkle was almost sold out of the pieces.
"(The designs are) touching people for different reasons," Earhart said. "I've had people purchase them as teacher gifts. I've had people buy them because they also have children who are challenged. A lot of people buy them because they think they're cute."
Just this week, a customer placed a special order for necklaces made with marbles in a specific color.
"There's so many varieties," Earhart said. "Who knew there were this many marbles in the world?"
"I've never seen so many marbles in all my life," she said, laughing.
This summer, before Andrew begins his freshman year at Central Gwinnett High School, he will be busy making more jewelry, taking weekend trips to market his designs to stores in Savannah, Gatlinburg and towns in Florida, and coming up with other pieces to add to his collection.
"His newest idea is we're going to be making key chains with big marbles," Lemoine said.
For more information on Lost Your Marbles? We Found 'Em! Designs by Andrew, call 678-451-9567 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.