Placerville's Suzy Mackendrick of Jewel House Rocks
03/29/2017 01:08PM ● Published by Heather Becker
Suzy Mackendrick is the mastermind behind Placerville-based jewelry brand Jewel House Rocks. The artist—who designs one-of-a-kind vintage treasures that she brings new life to—describes her pieces as “eclectic.” Currently, Mackendrick is busy planning her first full collection, as well as securing some local boutiques to carry her brand, which, at the moment, is only available online. She also sells her jewelry—oftentimes alongside her six-year-old daughter, Chloe, who makes bracelet sets—at local craft shows. Relocating somewhat reluctantly to Placerville as a senior in high school, Mackendrick now can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I love the beauty and history of El Dorado County, as well as the small-town, keep-it-local mentality our community has,” she says. “I haven't experienced that anywhere else like I have here.”
HLB: What’s the history behind Jewel House Rocks?
SM: Last year my friend gave me a stamping set, and I started stamping spoons that I cut and flattened with a torch. I had some old necklaces I didn't wear anymore and decided to take them apart. I mixed up the old pieces with gemstones and crystals and loved the way they came out, so I went on a scavenger hunt for old jewelry and vintage goodies. Jewelry is an extension of your personality—who you are and your mood. I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was younger, so designing and making jewelry feels natural to me.
HLB: How do you measure success, in terms of your business?
SM: I see my own success as growth, creative freedom, and the ability to run a thriving business and still be able to stay home with my kids while they're young.
HLB: How did you learn jewelry making, and do you have any advice for beginners?
SM: I’m self-taught—I just started taking old jewelry apart and reassembling it into something new. I love repurposing, so I played around with materials and figured out what I liked. I also got help with materials from my local bead store. I’m still new myself, but I think the best advice I could give someone—though kind of cliché—is to be true to yourself and create your own personal style. Be confident, don't second-guess yourself, and don't compare yourself to anyone else.
HLB: What were you told about this business that has helped you the most?
SM: Figure out who your dream client is and design for them. Don't try to appeal to everyone.
HLB: What inspires you?
SM: I love treasure hunting at swap meets or online. I collect little treasures, and then just wait for them to speak to me. Most times I'm working on a couple of things at once, because I start something and it has to sit for a while, half done, before I'm finally inspired to finish it. I never sketch anything out—I work best from mind to hand.
HLB: Who would your dream client be?
SM: Lucille Ball! She was iconic and hilarious, and is my spirit animal.