Fashion Features

Student breaking chains with hand-made jewelry

It was the relentlessly hot Las Vegas summer after 6th grade when Demi White walked through the doors of Michael’s craft store. The weather had kept her and her family inside the house, bored and surrounded by electronics, so her mother drove her there and simply said, “Pick a hobby.”
A cheap plastic bead set, her first purchase, led to crafting classes with grandma and polaroid-filled photo albums of her creations, her 2008 version of Instagram.
Now, that cheap bead set has transformed into what is breaking. chains, the PLNU sophomore’s hand- made jewelry line that she sells on Etsy, an online marketplace for people to make, sell, and buy uniquely made goods. In her Flex Farmer’s Market debut on Nov 14, she sold roughly 40 pieces of jewelry and nearly sold out.
On Instagram, @breaking.chains’ nearly 400 followers are always in anticipation of White’s next post. One follower commented, “Every time I see cool jewelry, I think, my friend Demi could make that, but way cooler.” Another attempts to make a personal request, and there are tons of heart-eyed emojies.
Her supply box has organized sections, cubbies that house an array of gems. A herd of turquoise elephants neighbor small white seashells; purple and blue feathers blend with the multi-colored beads that reside next door. Some are perfect circles, some are not. There are gold chains, silver chains, two chains, one chain, long chains, short ones. Some are broken, some brand new.
“This is a piece of me giving to a part of you. I think that is a really cool idea,” said White, who collects her trinkets from thrift stores, Ocean Beach bead shops and gifts that once were useless and now serve a purpose.
People give White their broken necklaces, earrings, and bracelets be- cause they no longer feel the need for them to sit unused on their dressers. That is where her joy begins.
“There is something so beautiful about the story of restoration,” White writes on her Demchainz, an- other name for her brand, Etsy store’s ‘About’ page. “Christ came to take all of our broken pieces and make them whole again. We were reckless, abandoned, worn out, and hanging off our hinges until Jesus came.”
The name “breaking.chains” is rooted in that connection.
Her favorite necklace that she has made was one that took three days to complete. She continued to rearrange chain-links, switch the order of the ocean-colored beads to take a different
direction, and tighten and loosen the wire over and over. This perseverance resembles her faith, she says.
“This is a picture of what faith looks like. The growth that happens is sometimes really frustrating, and I feel like I am getting nowhere and I am not growing,” said White. “The obedience to keep on going, the faithfulness to try it again and to see how God has been working in your life, is more rewarding than anything.”
White is also a student-athlete on the PLNU Women’s Track and Field team, and she uses jewelry crafting as therapy, relaxation, and something to recharge her. She says that often she finds herself after a 9-hour track meet craving some alone time. And wrap- ping stones in gold wire and linking matchlessly different chains, some- times until her fingers bleed, is that for her.
This has always been an on-and- off hobby for White, and it wasn’t un- til last year that she decided to create an Etsy to generate profit from her designs. She was highly encouraged by her friends and family.
“I’m kind of bad at the business part of it. It’s not really my personal- ity,” White said with a chuckle. “I’d rather just give them away.”
Still, she remains grounded in her audience, which are primarily college students. With this mindset, she continually wants to keep her prices low, but she also is aware of how much time and energy she places into each piece. White goes by the equation of adding
her cost of materials with the amount of time she’s put into it and multiplies that by two, all the while knowing that Etsy takes $0.20 USD for each item she lists for sale on the site and they charge a 3.5% transaction fee when a sale is made.
“I always want it to be a fun thing, a leisurely thing, a therapy thing and not like a time crunch thing,” said White. “That would stress me out. I don’t want to start doing something and then not love it anymore.”
White, a Child and Adolescent Development major, has her heart set on working with children with special needs, like Autism, but is not completely opposed to bringing her two passions together in possible charitable work and organizations.
“After the Farmer’s Market, it made me think that maybe this could be a part of what I do [futuristically],” said White. “But, at the same time, I am not opposed to this being a separate thing in my life because it has al- ways been an outlet for me.”
As all of her supplies are spread over her wooden coffee table, her roommates prance around their Flex apartment casually rocking their breaking.chains original creations.
“I feel like I can take on the day when I wear my Demchainz,” sophomore Rachel Devine, White’s roommate. “And I love knowing I’m sup- porting someone’s passion when I wear them.”
They are trying on White’s collection left and right professing why this one is their favorite in what seems like a nightly fashion show-like routine.
The red pliers that rest on the table next to her box are the same pliers she bought on that first trip to Michael’s. They’re falling apart, they don’t clamp as strong and willingly as they used to, are broken even, but she still holds on, despite buying a brand new pair recently.
“I think there is just something so beautiful in the brokenness,” White explains. “This doesn’t work anymore for that purpose, but what else can I use it for?”
Maybe, just pure, sentimental value.


About the author

Jordan Ligons

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