- Posted November 28, 2012 by
Rochester, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Making it in America: Mompreneurs
Shannon Cintron Jewelry: An unlikely handmade story
My name is LaShannon Hooper. I'm a mom of three and the owner of Shannon Cintron Jewelry. My work ranges from handmade beaded creations to craft and fine metal jewelry.
Shannon Cintron Jewelry started when I was 16. During this time, I became a teen mom. Twice. Living in a house with many siblings and a children of my own, money was often tight. I was on public assistance and would baby sit on the weekends for pay to earn a little extra cash. I still attended high school then and most days, I would have to forfeit eating lunch so that I could use the money for diapers.
I’ve always been a person who views the concepts of handmade craft and self-sufficiency as valuable . As a young child, if I was not working with my grandfather in the garden, I was helping my grandmother, sew a quilt by hand. With my indigenous background, I felt a strong inclination for making adornments and so I began making beaded jewelry. I used whatever change that I could save from buying all the necessities, to buy supplies. In the beginning, making jewelry was a 15-20 minutes at a time, therapeutic escape from reality. One day, a friend saw me wearing a bracelet that I’d made and asked me where I brought it. When I told her I made it, she decided that she wanted one too. So I made it-for free. After a while I found out that people in the neighborhood were asking about my bracelets and so I started to sell them. This became a small supplemental income for me. At 17, I moved out on my own and through the many ups and downs in life I still would always fall back on making jewelry. Many times what I sold would allow us to have groceries for the week or pay an electric bill before we were shut off.
Today I work out of my home studio in Rochester New York. My jewelry is sold online, at arts and craft shows and in local boutiques in my area. It is a steady growing business that is flourishing into something that I can truly say was my own from the beginning. My style and technique has matured through the years and I find it as enjoyable to do now as I did when I was 16. I am constantly networking with other jewelers and craftspeople, worldwide. I also volunteer and teach young people jewelry making.
When my daughter graduated, I made her a flower ring as a present. The flower signified her blossoming into a young woman and becoming the dream that was once mine but now belonged to her.
I like to think that I am an example for the young parent who feels that they are a statistic and that they cannot alter their path. When you think you have nothing to contribute or to help yourself and you child out of a difficult situation, consider your determination, your imagination and your hands.