by Monica Koohi.
Hello Jewelry Making Journal! All of your posts, along with Rena’s, have been a great source of guidance for me as I started my new business.
When I need guidance, Rena consistently feels like the guru at the top of a mountain somewhere that I trek to for advice!
I’m excited to have just launched my new jewelry site and I hope my story can inspire you too!
KOOHI jewelry is my collection of rebellious handcrafted jewelry. I specialize in making jewelry out of real spent bullet casings, rock and roll street fashion, and all things dangerous… spikes, nails, guns. You get the idea. I also offer custom work out of other people’s sentimental spent bullet casings, a favorite for military couples and hunters. This idea was born out of a very troubled time in my life…here’s how I found out that helping others with my jewelry can help me in return!
I am an artist and a rock musician, so edgy fashion has always been a major interest for me. I’ve been a vocalist in several rock bands and I started out making jewelry and clothes to wear on stage. I loved things that were a little out of the ordinary.
However, I found myself feeling very unsettled a while back…my fiance was overseas in the military, I hated my job and I had no creative outlets. I started having intense panic attacks, so bad that I couldn’t even drive! Bouts of depression and anxiety had me feeling the weakest I’d ever been so I started creating jewelry that made me feel strong when I wore it. It was like a cathartic experience.
I used nails, bullet shells, skulls, and made warrior breastplates out of bone and feathers. I would design for hours. I felt like these pieces made me look a little more hardcore than I actually felt at the time; but soon found that wearing them made my attitude quickly follow! I walked a little taller and I held my head a little higher. I guess it’s hard to feel like a wimp when you’re wearing 25 spent bullet shells. Haha.
To my surprise, other people picked up on that energy and asked me to reproduce the pieces for themselves. I sold several pieces to friends and coworkers and decided to open my website, KOOHI.com. It took a LOT of work and a lot of time to get everything going but I stuck to my initial vision and it seems to be paying off!
Since opening only in November 2012, I have had an incredible reception! I attribute my success so far to the fact that everything I make comes from an attitude of inspiring the wearer. I want them to feel unique, I want them to feel strong when they put my jewelry on. How my customer feels wearing my work is my first priority and I think that is what resonates with people.
I truly believe that if you have a spirit of giving to others, that it will be rewarded and come back to you. That is what has happened for me. Not just in design either…I donate a portion of my sales to an organization that provides guitars and music therapy to war veterans, which is very close to my heart. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to afford donating even a small portion but I soon learned that people were even more willing to purchase from me when they knew it helped out a good cause. I ended up making more sales because of it!
KOOHI Jewelry is still in it’s infancy so I am constantly adding new products and expanding my collection and reach. It takes a lot of work but I’ve got some great momentum going. If you are in the middle of some hard times, I hope this story can inspire you to pick your head up and use your art as a way to move forward.
If so, I believe the heart you put into designing will be evident in your work, and having heart is what touches other souls. The motto for my website is “Wear if You Dare!” and I think that attitude applies to a lot of things. Don’t be scared to make what you believe in and don’t be scared to get started…just go for it!