Three years ago, Alexandria resident Christine Papio was searching for a creative hobby to take part in outside of her career as a data analyst when she decided to try her hand at jewelry making.
“I’m very analytical, but there’s always been this creative side to me too that I wanted to discover,” says Papio. “I had never made jewelry, but it’s such a creative outlet that I felt inspired to pursue. Now I do my analytics during the day and make my jewelry at night, selling it all the time.”
As soon as her friends started taking interest in her work, Papio turned to selling her geode-based bracelets, necklaces and earrings on Etsy. Today, Papio has made almost 1,000 sales on the online shopping site—which doesn’t include pieces sold in person at local markets, fairs and festivals in Northern Virginia—with her company, Splendid Cargo.
Papio uses metal wire, gold plating, beads and geodes to create her pieces, which typically feature bright colors and bold shapes, all from the self-made studio of her Alexandria apartment. This November, Papio gravitated toward a darker, celestial theme right in time for the gift-giving season with her latest collection, Festive Nights.
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“What I didn’t realize until I was in the process of making this new collection was that it needed an element of luxury and celebration with the approaching holidays,” says Papio. “The colors and textures are inspired by winter and long, dark nights, but there is an added layer of merriment and opulence with the iridescent and brilliant colors.”
To highlight the cheer of the season, Papio combines simple, white pearls with dark stones and druzy crystals—a glittery, colorful mineral within rocks—to create statement pieces she recommends wearing (or giving) for holiday gatherings and affairs.
“Something about the raw beauty of stones always pulls me in,” says Papio. “Also when I first started doing this, I wanted something that would stand out. I don’t really follow the trends. You won’t see this in traditional, big-box stores.”
While this year’s markets are winding down, Papio’s last booth of the year will be at URBNmarket’s holiday pop-up on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can’t make it? Visit Papio’s Etsy page, here.