Local Makers with an Art of Their Own

Women carve out artistic niches wtih unique creative wares.
Emily Thelemann

The vibrancy of any community relies on a host of factors, and several local women are doing their parts to infuse Edina with artistry, ingenuity and some downright delightful homegrown businesses. With merchandise ranging from luscious body products, creative clothing, homages to literature and inspired jewelry, these entrepreneurs have shoppers covered from head to toe.

Emily Thelemann spent well over a decade with the world’s largest specialty jeweler. She served as manager for the Edina location’s design and service center. Almost a year ago, Thelemann stepped away from the larger stage and into her own spotlight to create her jewelry design business, Shimmering Carbon. “I felt I was losing who I was and wanted to get back the passion for jewelry making and express my own designs,” she says, adding she also wanted to develop a stronger connection with customers, “and get a feel for who they were, so I could express it full circle.”

Shimmering Carbon features wares created with 14-karat gold, platinum, silver, precious stones and beads. “With 15 years of experience, I have a pretty wide range that I can do,” says Thelemann. Calling her style contemporary and geometric, Thelemann says, “I’ve done it all. I don’t want to limit myself to a certain category. I also try to get a feel for what my customer wants. I don’t want it to be all about my style or design. Of course, that’s an element of it.”

Thelemann’s inspirational points include nature, meditation and her clients. “I’m very inspired by people and the connection we have made,” she says. Prices begin at $100 and extend beyond that point, depending on the customization of the piece; she’ll work, when possible, within a client’s budget. Thelemann will be at the Edina Art Fair and other area art fairs; clients can currently find Shimmering Carbon on Facebook and Instagram, or call 612.470.7776 for custom pieces. “I’m really excited to break into the space,” she says.

All that glitters is not gold—sometimes it’s a sweatshirt. It’s no secret that Edina residents have a strong sense of community, and one can’t go far without spotting a high schooler or parent clad in Hornet or Edina gear. Meg Adkisson and Nikki Dypwick, noting there was a lack of apparel focusing on Edina’s elementary schools and neighborhoods, decided to give that population a voice through 424 Ink apparel (424ink.com).

Apparel includes sweatshirts, zip hoodies, sweatpants, lounge pants, shirts, hats and shorts that give a fashionable shout-out to elementary schools and local neighborhoods. (A dress featuring navy and oatmeal stripes is available for Normandale Elementary French Immersion School—charmant!) Most of the boys’ items are created with Under Armour apparel. “You know the quality, and you know the kids are going to wear it,” Adkisson says. Top sellers for boys include T-shirts and hoodies, while the young ladies are drawn to the sparkly hoodies. “Nikki has totally hit it out of the park with the girls’ sparkly section,” Adkisson says. 424 Ink is clearly filling an apparel gap, as its popularity reveals. “People want to feel that connection,” Adkisson says. “Making your world a little bit smaller makes it feel a little bit safer.”

Get in Edina gear with price points from $22 to $45. Items are available on Etsy, pop-up shops, occasional stores and special school events. “It’s been really well-received,” Adkisson says. “The kids have really, really supported it.” Speaking of support, Adkisson and Dypwick donate a portion of all proceeds to Edina education. Through 424 Ink, they purchased matching outdoor coats for Concord Elementary School’s playground staff, so the younger students could easily identify them.

(Meg Adkisson, Ruby Arlowe and Nikki Dypwick)

Lisa O’Brien deferred to her son, Oscar, while considering career advice. When the now 15-year-old was still young enough to be relegated to the backseat of a car, he had some advice for his mom. During a car ride, O’Brien asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He flipped the conversation. From the backseat, he said, “You should make jewelry.” After a 20-year career with Kraft Foods, the time was right for O’Brien to pick a new path and take Oscar’s advice.

The lifelong do-it-yourselfer is creating a line of necklaces, under the OBBeads brand, featuring tassels–which are having a moment–and her version of the classic charm bracelet reincarnated as necklaces. A sample of her line includes O’Brien’s good luck necklace, featuring penny, horseshoe and shamrock charms with a green tassel. And the traveler will look smart with her homage to globetrotting, featuring a Holiday Inn token, luggage key and hot-air balloon charm, festooned with a red tassel.

O’Brien clearly has an eye for turning the ordinary into wearable art. “I’m inspired by what I see, quite honestly, anywhere,” she says—even the outside walls of a well-known nightclub are a source of inspiration. The stars that pepper the exterior of First Avenue in Minneapolis led O’Brien to create a necklace. Pairing the colors and textures of her beaded materials with charms to illustrate a story helps the artist encourage her imagination to flow into the collection. “It’s a creative outlet that I didn’t have the opportunity to express in my corporate world,” she says. “[Art] is a little more fluid process.”

Prices range from $15 to $45. “I want it to be accessible,” O’Brien says, noting the price point allows customers to purchase multiple necklaces to layer into their personal styles. Items are available on Etsy and at the Stash in Waconia.

O’Brien is optimistic yet realistic when it comes to the trajectory of her jewelry business. She appreciates the intensity with which Edina business owners and residents embrace the creative community. “It’s great to see them take an interest and want to support local artists,” she says. “It’s a very supportive community that way.”

(Lisa O’Brien)

Drawing inspiration from a childhood obsession with bumblebees and the oft-told notion that the portly insects can’t fly, Bonnie Maney coined her company Keep Buzzin’ Body Products. “Let’s just keep buzzing for other people,” she says. With a line of 2-ounce hand and foot creams, each going for $10, Maney, who works with her sister Dawn McPherson, is committed to offering customers products that are free from petrolatum, lanolin, phthalates, sodium laureth/lauryl sulfates, oxybenzone, carmine and added coloring. The cruelty-free hand creams are ultra-concentrated and require just a small amount for daily coverage. Scents include Purely Peppermint and Purely Spearmint foot creams and Cherry-Almond, French Lavender, Fresh Tangerine, Lemon Sunshine and fragrance-free hand creams.

“We started out as just this dot on a map,” Maney says, adding the line has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman’s World magazines. Faithful customers hail from around the United States and Canada, and can purchase online at keepbuzzinbodyproducts.com. Future additions to the natural and vegan line could include lip products, but Maney isn’t interested in flooding her business with add-ons. “We feel like less is more when it comes to standing behind your

products,” she says, noting research is being conducted to secure eco-certified preservation systems for lip products. The products will only be produced if they completely adhere to Keep Buzzin’ Body Products’ core values.

Maney’s excitement over her products’ success is two-fold. As a business owner, she is thrilled with customers’ reception of the line. As a philanthropist, Maney is committed to directing a portion of sales to charitable organizations, including Food for the Poor.

(Dawn McPherson)

As a high school art teacher, Kari Halker-Saathoff is well-versed in a host of art forms. This Jack-of-all-trades artist creates Made in Morningside and Made in Edina printed clothing and pottery goods as part of Upside Right Studio, featuring the works of Halker-Saathoff and Danny Saathoff, sculptor and jeweler. (She is pictured here wearing one of Saathoff’s designs.) Her work gives a pleasant nod to the city and one of its storied neighborhoods with charming designs and gentle color schemes.

While locals may be familiar with Halker-Saathoff’s T-shirt and pottery wares, her tenure as a teacher has led her down other artistic pathways. “I have to be good at everything, but my passions are drawing, painting and ceramics,” she says. The art world is taking note. The Canton Museum of Art in Ohio invited her to mount a solo show in 2017, highlighting Homer’s Odyssey. The show will include 12 paintings/drawings and 12 vessels. Interestingly, she uses interior latex paint in her work. “I actually like the way it lays out,” she says.

Halker-Saathoff draws from the well of inspiration offered by classic literature. “I’m inspired by the narrative, and I love telling a story,” she says.

The complexities found in classic tales take Halker-Saathoff’s artistry to a deeper level. “There are so many levels of storytelling that happen,” she says, noting nuances add dense texture to the tales. “It makes you have to think,” she says. “I find pure joy in creating that, and I find pure joy when people figure it out.” Upside Right Studio can be found on Facebook.

(Kari Halker-Saathoff)