PHOTOWEIGHTS - EST. 2001
I’m often asked what inspired me to start PhotoWeights. The answer has
to be my love for antique paperweights that frame illustrated
advertising, photographs of country churches, and portraits of loved
ones captured under glass more than a century ago.
At a time when the
art of personalizing glass paperweights had faded into obscurity, I wanted to re-introduce it to a new generation of crafters using more modern techniques and a variety of different materials. Since we
opened in 2001, tens of thousands of PhotoWeights have been sold. More
importantly, as you can see on websites such as Pinterest and Etsy, the
art is as vibrant as ever.
I grew up in Downey, California, not far from Los Angeles. With dreams of working behind the scenes in television, I majored in Mass Communications and worked as the Program Director for the college radio station. Like the career paths of many others, mine ended up taking a slight detour when I accepted a position managing real estate for a chain of retail stores. What began as something temporary turned into a career I truly enjoyed. A few years later, I was with one of the top commercial real estate firms in Washington, DC, working with a team that oversaw the management of a large portfolio of office buildings throughout the city.
Fate stepped in when I returned home for a holiday break and met my future husband at a New Year's party. A few months later, I was back in Los Angeles where I continued to do much the same work. I longed to do something more creative, though, because I was a crafter at heart. This is when I began to design and create glass paperweights in my spare time. Once I began to sell them at boutiques and antique fairs, I quickly found myself creating more and more custom work using my clients' images and artwork. This was the spark behind my idea to introduce a line of paperweight kits that virtually anyone could personalize at home.
At that time, around 2000, there weren't any
websites in existence that specialized in this particular field of crafting. This presented the perfect opportunity. After sourcing paperweights and materials over the course of several months, I opened my first online shop in the fall of 2001.
My husband and I spent a few more years in Southern California before
we decided to relocate to a small town in South Dakota; a place where
my grandmother and her family lived eight decades earlier. One thing
was obvious. There weren't any high-rise office buildings where we were going. This is the moment PhotoWeights went from being a part-time
venture to a full-time business. The rest, as they say, is history.
PhotoWeights have been featured in a variety of magazines that include Country Living, Southern Living, In Style Weddings, House & Home, and Family Circle. They've also been prominently featured on two episodes of the Martha Stewart Show. In addition, our paperweight kits have been used to create several stunning projects you can find on artist and crafter blogs.
A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT ME
I come from a line of crafters. My maternal grandfather was a plasterer who created movie sets for RKO Pictures during Hollywood’s golden age. His wife, my grandmother, was a seamstress and dressmaker who once worked for Viola Dimmitt, a well-known clothing designer in Los Angeles. Then there's my paternal grandfather, a metalworker who fabricated stoves in a small factory. In his spare time, in a workshop behind my grandparents' home, he turned copper, brass, and aluminum into handcrafted lamps, ornate mailboxes, housewares, and other goods.
In addition to running the day-to-day operations of PhotoWeights, I’m also busy working in my brick-and-mortar antique shop. Both businesses are located in a century-old storefront in De Smet, South Dakota. De Smet is best known as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little Town on the Prairie.” Laura’s father, Charles Ingalls, owned a store that was once located across the street from our building. It’s a town full of history that attracts Little House on the Prairie fans from near and far.
When I’m not at work, I love traveling and exploring the backroads of South Dakota with my husband. I also enjoy going to antique stores, flea markets, and auctions to keep the shelves of my antique shop filled. (I'll admit I keep a few things for myself.) My other passions include crafting, refinishing antique furniture, genealogy, cooking, baking, and gardening.
One of my favorite pastimes is collecting antique family photographs that include identifying clues I can research in hopes to track down living descendants to return the images to. Each photograph is mystery waiting to be unraveled. Unfortunately, the research into most photos leads nowhere. The few successes, however, more than make up for the disappointments.