What started as a humble jewelry hobby in her Langley home is now becoming popular among local fashionistas and celebrities alike.
Just four years ago Marjolein Poppema was being taught how to make handmade necklaces, and now her Sweetpiece Jewelry pieces have made their way into many local retail stores and all the way to the Oscars.
Keeping up with the growing demand for her handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings is a new, exciting avenue for the stay-at-home mom turned jewelry guru, and it is all thanks to some lessons from a friend in Holland.
“It is interesting how it all happened because my mom came over to visit with a friend from Holland, and she was wearing a very interesting necklace. I just kept looking at it wondering ‘where did she get it? How is this made? Who made it?” explained Poppema, who immigrated to Langley from Holland just two weeks after she was married in 1983.
“She told me it was someone in Holland who made it for her, and it turned out it was actually someone who I knew of when I lived there. I thought ‘oh cool I should connect with her so I can learn more about this.’
“So on my next trip over, which was a few months later, I set up an appointment with this girl and she showed me in an hour what she had done and where I can buy some beads in Holland and I never looked back.”
Using sterling silver, Swarovski crystal, freshwater pearls and beads imported from Holland, Poppema has since created thousands of decorative jewelry items for her clients and her online store.
But it was one of her most unique pieces, the Hope 1 bracelet, that caught the Hollywood buzz back in February.
Designed for Fashion Hope, a non-profit organization raising awareness of human trafficking, Poppema was asked to create 25 of the sophisticated bracelets for the Oscar swag bags.
Made of freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystal and a silver charm stamped with the word ‘hope,’ Poppema found that creating the bracelets was “quite a process.” She had to teach herself how to stamp and solder into sterling silver for the design, and then do it perfectly 25 times over.
“You should have seen my living room. There were parts here, they were there, they were over there,” she joked. “But I had to get it done and it didn’t matter if I had to get up at three in the morning. It was getting it done and it was getting done right. My biggest goal is that my customers are satisfied with their piece and love their piece.”
Although she doesn’t know which Oscar celebrities her jewelry was given to, Poppema says the entire process has been exciting.
“With the swag bags you can have a celebrity wearing your bracelet two months from now because they finally got to your bag. You just don’t know,” she said.
“It was just a really cool thing for me to be involved in and I’m just so grateful that I have chosen this cause (Fashion Hope) as part of raising awareness.”
Poppema is now working on the Hope 2 bracelet for Fashion Hope. Similar to the Hope 1, its sequel has larger charms and is made of sterling silver rather than plated silver.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of making her jewelry is the creativity involved, Poppema said.
“Being creative is really important to me. I use it even when putting a flowerpot outside or creating a nice dinner or making a new desert I haven’t made before. It’s just part of me — it makes me tick and it makes me happy.”
“So making jewelry is awesome because I get to meet customers and brides and they even put me outside of my box. They help me create things that I haven’t thought of before. I love that part. I love people’s reactions. And people are starting now to recognize my stuff, too, which is really cool. That’s when you know you’re on the right track.”
Poppema’s Sweetpiece Jewelry is currently being featured in six different retail stores: Ivory Bridal in Walnut Grove, The Passionate Home in downtown Langley, Crush Clothing at Grandview Corners in South Surrey, Melange Distinctive Fashions and Gifts in Ocean Park South Surrey, Malary’s Fashion Network in Cloverdale, Anca’s Bridal in Cloverdale and Inspired Arts and Gifts in Yarrow.
Visit Poppema’s website, www.sweetpiece.com, to see more products and to contact her for private appointments.