Photos by L.G Patterson
When the pandemic began shutting down businesses and communities around the world, people found different ways to cope and adapt. Shannon Mulvania-Beck was working from home with her child taking part in virtual kindergarten, when the stir-crazy feelings began to set in. “When I feel stir crazy, I do crazy projects,” Beck says. “I just felt this urge to do something.”
What began as a small pandemic hobby creating polymer clay jewelry quickly expanded as Beck kept going. Soon, she realized she’d have to try selling them. “There was absolutely no way on earth that I personally needed 67 pairs of earrings,” Beck says. “They just kind of multiplied.” So, she began selling the unique polymer clay accessories to friends and family and posting pictures of her creations on social media. “It just kind of took off from there,” she says.
Each piece Beck makes is completely unique, from detail to color, so each customer gets a truly one-of-a-kind item, something Beck believes customers truly value. Plus, she says, she really puts herself into each and every item. “It really is whatever I’m feeling at the time,” Beck says, noting that the vibrant colors are almost part of her signature. “Occasionally, I will make something neutral, but I’m pretty colorful and flamboyant myself.”
Another part of Beck’s signature is her business name, Juniper Manor, which comes from a childhood memory of Beck’s. Her visceral memory of juniper bushes in the front yard of her grandparents’ house provided the perfect inspiration for that missing piece. It was her husband who suggested using the word manor as a part of the business name. Just like the flower, Juniper Manor Jewelry bloomed into life, turning Beck’s dream into a reality.
From her early designs to her current forays into dangle earrings, studs, hair clips and even pins, Beck has found customers all over Missouri and as far away as Chicago. Her pandemic side project now has her traveling to new cities and meeting new people at different art shows every month. “I’ve just met so many great people doing this, which has been a really unexpected, but very welcome bonus,” she says. She’s even partnered with Serendipity Salon and Gallery by Elizabeth Jordheim on Walnut Street to display and sell some of her creations. The business includes an art gallery and boutique space filled with handmade goods. “It’s doing well, sometimes better than I want it to,” Beck says of her side business. “It has taken on a life of its own.”
But even with all the success she’s found, Beck is adamant about keeping her jewelry making an enjoyable hobby instead of a profession. “I’m kind of at a point now where I’m trying to prevent it from taking over my life,” she says. “For me, it’s really always going to remain a small side project that’s a lot of fun.”
For more information, visit junipermanorclay.com.