Erica Young was a little girl when she started to dream about becoming a fashion designer. But after spending countless hours on arts and crafts of all kinds at summer camps, she discovered sewing just wasn't her thing. "I'm not that patient," Young jokes. "It was something I just couldn't stick with." But the 32-year-old owner and designer of On the Lookout Jewelry didn't let that realization stifle her creativity. Instead, she started the modern line of handmade West African and Native American bracelets and necklaces in 2012. Her pieces showcase beaded, geometric-patterns in bright blue, yellow, green, coral, silver and gold. STOCKING UP: To create designs such as her popular Surf Bracelets (starting at $30), Young uses a tabletop weaving loom — a metal, 12-inch-wide device with two posts — that allows her to work on four sets of strings at once. When making the friendship-style bracelets, she fills it with nearly 2,500 tiny beads in one sitting. WEAVING A WEB: Before turning to jewelry full time, the Chicago native managed websites for a boutique and a sportswear company. She also styled the photo shoots, took the photos and created the look books for the companies. "It was a really good stepping stone to opening my own online store," she says. GEM CITY: At this year's International Gem and Bead Show in Tucson, Arizona, Young searched for cabochons — flat-backed, cut and polished gemstones for rings. "Stone-setting is a new jewelry endeavor for me," Young says. "It requires metalsmithing skills, hammers, anvils, saws, torches and a lot of other equipment to hand-manipulate metal." SPEAK FREELY: While working, Young tunes into podcasts such as This American Life, Planet Money and Elise Gets Crafty — a craft-oriented show where a creative entrepreneur interviews other small-business owners. "If I'm feeling frazzled and crazy, it's nice to listen to other people [sharing] information about their successes," Young says.
Find it: Buy On the Lookout Jewelry at Banyan Tree in Cleveland and the monthly Cleveland Flea.
MORE INFO: onthelookout.bigcartel.com
With snaking brass and colored beads hand-picked from Africa, India, Turkey and the United States, the Vertebrae Necklace ($48) is on trend with its modern chevron pattern.