Today we’d like to introduce you to Kalyn Underwood.
Hi Kalyn, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
So we bought the supplies and started making things together. I decided to make some earrings for my teacher friends in our school colors and thought it was really fun! This was September of 2021, which was also when I stopped being able to exercise as a result of hip dysplasia. I’ve been getting cortisone shots for years, but they were no longer effective, and walking at all was becoming very painful.
Crafting came at just the right time because exercise had always been something I did in the morning with an audiobook or a podcast, and I was struggling with that being gone from my life. I began waking up in the morning and enjoying the solitude while making jewelry and seeing the immediate fruit of my labor each morning. I continued making with Everett, but I definitely started ramping up production, so I decided to start selling it.
My goal was to make handmade, affordable jewelry because I don’t like to spend a lot on accessories for myself, but it’s hard to find cute stuff that isn’t over-priced. Additionally, I cannot wear any metals, so I started making my earrings with plastic hooks and posts, which was a game-changer for me. It’s been so nice for kids, too, who often complain about itchy, red ears. So my earrings can be made with metal, plastic, or clip-ons.
In January of this year, I had my PAO surgery on my right hip, which was much more difficult than I anticipated. There were unexpected complications, and I felt pretty much chair-bound for 2 months, then on a walker and crutches for another month, then back to work finally with a cane for a bit. Since I was missing so many things happening in my kids’ lives, I was feeling sorry for myself and struggling more emotionally.
A friend (Dr. Artangela Henry) came over one day with some news and mentioned as she was leaving that I would get through this–though, in January, I was not seeing the end of the tunnel–and that sometimes we go through difficult things for the benefit of others. She said it was better than that, but that’s my takeaway months late and no longer on pain meds. So I started to think about how I could use my time in my chair to help others.
That’s when I posted on Facebook and Instagram that I wanted to learn about more Memphis-based charities that I could try to partner with so that a portion of my proceeds could benefit others. I decided that every 6 months, I would change to a new group so that my family and I could learn more about our community and find more ways to help.
After many suggestions were made, I decided to reach out to Dorothy Day House. I had never heard of this place and was amazed by what they do. I never realized that families experiencing homelessness are usually separated from each other according to gender and age–if we were to fall on hard times, my boys would go to foster care, and my husband and I would be separated, only further deepening the trauma of the experience.
Dorothy Day House keeps families together and helps them through their crises to get them back on their feet as a family. This just spoke to me as a mother of young boys, so I asked in January if I could donate to them in June, which they were gracious and accepting of. A few weeks ago, my family was able to tour one of the houses and present a check for $1,200–I was blown away by the homes that these families live in as they bounce back together.
I’m currently working on raising money for TeamTrees, a group started by Mark Rober and Mr. Beast–YouTubers that my boys love, which plants one tree in the ground for every dollar donated. My boys watched a video that these two men put out together and got very excited about it. Klyne and Everett asked me if we could choose them as our next group. I think I’ll stick with this through the end of the year and then switch back to either Dorothy Day House, Room in the Inn, or Youth Villages.
I’ve been fortunate to have some connections I’ve made through teaching, which has helped me get my jewelry into locally-owned boutiques around town–The Truffle Pig in Collierville as well as Pigtails and Crewcuts and Germantown Pharmacy, both located in Germantown. Half of the proceeds I get from these sales, also go towards our current charities.
I primarily sell through Instagram, Facebook, and festivals, but we recently launched my website (www.beckwoodfinds.com), which is gaining a little traffic, too. It makes me feel great to make my hobby have a purpose of helping others as well as setting an example for my kids.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s been fairly smooth. I’m fortunate to have a full-time job already, so whatever I’m able to produce with this, isn’t determining our ability to pay for things.
The goal here is to cover my costs and have enough left over to make a difference for someone else. I’m still figuring out the best ways to market my products and learning the best strategies for creating them. One of the most fun parts that definitely provides challenges is my Make and Bake events.
I will bring all of my stuff to your location and teach your group how to make things–it’s been really fun for kids as well as Mom’s Night Out. I learn so much each time I do it.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a 5th-grade science teacher that also loves crafting as a means of personal therapy and spending time with my kids. I primarily make earrings out of clay, resin, metal, and beads at a price point that makes shopping more fun.
My best customers have been friends and family, of course, but also kids! I can make my earrings with plastic posts/hooks or in clip-ons, so they’re really available for everyone. I’m most proud of the fact that half of my proceeds are for the benefit of others.
I love that my hobby has turned into something that helps our community, and I think that helps set me apart–comfortable and cute earrings at a price that makes you happy and a product that puts a smile on someone else’s face because the money is mostly going to our hometown.
What does success mean to you?
Success is setting a goal, working towards it, and learning in the process. To be successful doesn’t mean it always went beautifully; it can mean failing over and over again, but persevering until the job is done right.
If you can look back on something and know that the journey was worth it because of whatever it is that you gained in the end, that’s a success.
- $15 for most earrings
- $5 for most kid earrings
- $10 for most holiday/seasonal earrings
- $35-45 for most necklaces
- Website: www.beckwoodfinds.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beckwoodfinds
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeckwoodFinds