Shi-Ly-Ku, which translates into “women of virtue, queenly anointed” is the inspiration behind Shy-Stones, a jewelry business owned and operated by Vernita Johnson.
Flawed, semi-precious stones, metals and crystals are mixed together to create one-of-a-kind pieces of “wearable art” designed for women. Flawed stones are intentionally used to create this unique product line of bracelets, earrings and necklaces because, “Just as the flaws in the stones make the stones more beautiful, the flaws women possess enhance (their) beauty,” Johnson says.
Different quartz varieties such as onyx, jasper and African opal have been used to craft these hand-made pieces. Johnson’s work has reached many as she’s participated in art shows like the Avant Garde Art and Craft Show, attended multiple women’s conferences, and been featured at the North Market. Her jewelry has also been displayed in Mary B’s Gift Shop and on Etsy. Additionally, in 2009 Johnson was one of four artists invited to sell jewelry at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Initially, starting in the jewelry business was not in Johnson’s plans. In fact, after being laid off from her job, she attended a workshop on seeking new employment. During that workshop, the presenter stressed the importance of “doing something that makes you happy” in the midst of seeking new employment. No sooner after that workshop, Johnson took a trip to the local toy store and purchased the jewelry kit that started her journey.
Eventually, she took another trip to Michael’s, a retail arts and crafts shop, and expanded to using plastics and glass in her jewelry making. She made the natural transition to designing jewelry with stones because she not only collected rocks as a young child, but recognized that stones go up in value over time, making her pieces more valuable.
Throughout this experience, she has had to perfect her craft through a lot of trial and error. In the summer of 2004, Johnson decided to officially start her business selling jewelry after many people liked and expressed interest in purchasing pieces. She has since worked tirelessly at turning her hobby into a viable business.
Interestingly enough, Johnson discovered the Women’s Business Center by accident after a previously scheduled meeting was cancelled. She saw the building while driving and decided to inquire about WBC services. Since joining the WBC, Johnson has been able to take her business to another level.
WBC staff has been able to assist Johnson in the creation of her eCommerce site which launched in February 2015. As Johnson added so eloquently, “I could not do that by myself.”
Participating in close to 15 hours of training and attending numerous hours of networking events, Johnson truly appreciates, “(The) support and how friendly (staff) is and willing to help you.” She points out that, “We’re (staff) here and have a hands-on approach to providing resources and guiding in the next steps of business development.”
Johnson continues to grow as an entrepreneur, recently utilizing Pinterest and other social media platforms to increase product exposure and business revenue. Additionally, she has enrolled in the Individual Development Account (IDA) program and is on track to receive a grant to continue the expansion of her business. Johnson not only has been able to increase her confidence level, but charges other entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services offered by the WBC.