When I started the Just Jill Shop, I wanted to fill it with high-quality and meaningful items.
I wanted each piece to include some sort of story behind it, and I searched for things that I would use myself.
So when Jen agreed to collaborate with me and feature her PowerBeads bracelets on the site, I was out of this world happy.
Jen is one of those people I could talk to for hours. In fact, the last time we were together we let the time completely get away from us! Not only is she approachable and friendly, but she also finds meaning in every relationship in her life.
That’s why I smile every time I wear her bracelets. They bring me the same joy she brings me. And that’s also why I wanted to sit down with her to talk about her story, her jewelry, and why we’re so excited to work together.
From Military Child To Jewelry Maker
Jen never lived in one place for long. Her father was a three-star general in the U.S. Air Force and she moved every 18 to 24 months.
While she admits that the moves were complicated at times, she thanks them for teaching her the ability to adapt and meet new people. “It made me so accepting and made me a student of the world,” she says. “I was able to see all kinds of people, and families, and dynamics and backgrounds.”
When she got to high school, she discovered that art was her passion. “I loved to paint and I loved to draw, but what I didn’t initially know is that I liked to write.” The discovery lead her to seek out schools focused heavily on the arts and journalism, and she landed at The University of Kansas.
It’s actually kind of funny… since I’m a Mizzou girl, Jen and I joke about the competition between the two schools. They were rivals… we can’t help it!
After an early marriage, a couple of moves and three boys later, Jen started questioning the state of her life. She knew there was something missing so she turned to faith to find some clarity.
Soon thereafter, Jen joined a women’s triathlon team and at the age of 40, learned to formally swim. “I wanted my boys to see me step out of my comfort zone,” she explains.
This is also when she trained as a cyclist, and when her life drastically changed.
The Event That Changed Her Life
Jen tells me it was a sunny, beautiful day when it happened.
She was on a ride with other triathletes and they were going down a straight road. As the group turned, a young girl “momentarily made a horrible mistake” and tried to pass the group in her car.
Jen was broadsided and thrown on the hood of a car in an accident no one thought she survived. “And that was the day that changed everything,” she says. “Physically, emotionally, everything. I thought I was gone.”
It didn’t come without some serious rehabilitation, but Jen survived the accident and explains that angels watched out for her that day. She also says that the crash caused her to go into some serious life reflection.
“I knew I was not in the best marriage, I knew I was not in the right place in my life, and spiritually, I felt lost.” Despite this, Jen knew it wasn’t her time to go.
A Sign and The Start of Something New
While in rehab, Jen’s friend gave her a small Blessed Mary metal. She says it saw a lot of tears, it kept her company and it surrounded her with love.
“I kept Her with me but I was afraid to lose Her, so I put Her on a string of beads and kept it me with me all the time,” she says. Wearing the bracelet provided her with so much joy and comfort that she started collecting other metals for her loved ones.”
“They were for girlfriends that were going through really good stuff and really not so good stuff,” she explains. “The more I gave out the more it filled my happy bucket. Not only was I spreading love out, but it was also coming back to me.”
One day, she wore the bracelet into a local shop that was owned by her friend. Looking at the craftsmanship and design, her friend asked if she’d like to make a few and sell them in the shop.
Jen mentioned it was more of a hobby—something she did therapeutically. But when her friend insisted, Jen made 25 bracelets and got a call a couple of hours later saying that they all sold out.
One thing led to another and Jen’s small hobby grew. “Now we’re Maine to Maui. We are almost 200 stores strong that carry my brand,” she says.
A Little More About PowerBeads
The secret to her brand’s success lies in quality and meaning. All of Jen’s jewelry is handmade in the United States (she says this is because of her family’s Air Force background), and they don’t outsource anything.
She also has what she calls her “team of angels” and notes that she only hires women.
When choosing the materials for her bracelets, she explains that the medals were a no-brainer. “I’ve been collecting medals for years and they all have stories behind them.”
In an effort to create meaning through her products, she tries her best to use the medals she finds in her discoveries, and then sends them to her castor to make them for her bracelets.
But the PowerBeads bracelets are about more than the medal. If you ask me, what makes them really stand out are the stones she uses. And to my surprise, I learned that all of the stones are handpicked by Jen.
“I’m a total bead snob,” she says, noting that she tries to find the best vendors for her stones. “They’re all grade A GIA certified gemstones and I did a lot of research into the meaning of each of them,” she adds.
While most of the ones on her site feature the traditional 14-millimeter size bead, the ones you’ll find at the Just Jill Shop are made with a 12-millimeter bead. I like them a bit smaller and Jen was kind enough to match my style preference!
Back To The Start
Let’s backtrack a bit, why don’t we. I’m sure you might be wondering how this whole collaboration happened in the first place.
We honestly should have met a while ago because we live in the same community. Our children even go to the same school!
Jen knew about me and I knew about Jen, but before now, we never actually worked together. One day at a baseball game, I approached her about my shop and asked if she would consider making and featuring some special Just Jill PowerBeads bracelets on my site.
Her response? “I’d walk off a cliff with you!”
When I asked her why she ultimately decided to make this a reality, she explained that she trusted me and knew I would let her relay her brand’s message authentically.
Jen says that it’s not about money and that she just wants to be happy. She loves that I have all of you behind me and knows that her bracelets will be able to touch your lives (or your loved ones) like they’ve touched her other customer’s lives.
“I want to offer people gifts with meaning,” she explained. “I just want to make people happy.”
PowerBeads at The Just Jill Shop
Now, we have FOUR stunning PowerBeads bracelets at the Just Jill Shop—the Sodalite Stretch bracelet, the Faceted Pearlized Agate with Pave bracelet, the Faceted Aqua Jade bracelet, and the Faceted Roze Quartz bracelet (which features the serenity prayer).
“It’s a wrist-reminder,” says Jen. She mentions that each bracelet is supposed to remind you of a moment or a memory or a person. “It tells you that tomorrow is going to come and that everything is going to be okay.”
She’s quite the woman, am I right? And I’m so grateful that Jen and I get to work together—hopefully for a lot longer!
I hope you’re able to make one of these PowerBeads bracelets your own. They truly are so meaningful and I find that they can go with just about anything. I wear mine on a daily basis and I must say, the little “wrist-reminder” always puts a smile on my face.
From my home to yours,