Leaps of faith, that's what it took for Mendota, Va., resident Pam Powers to leave her position of many years as a doctor's office receptionist and turn a jewelry-making hobby into a business of 'blessings.'
Pam Powers, a Virginian by birth, was raised in Nickelsville, but she later left the region to travel on base with her Navy husband (now a retired veteran) for 20 years of service. She returned to her home state 14 years ago. She now lives in Mendota, where Randy preaches at a church in a nearby town and serves as manager at the family-owned Pops Restaurant.
Much of Pam Powers' adult life has been spent happily balancing the duties of a pastor's wife, a mother of two girls and a receptionist. Any spare time she's had goes into craft-making.
“I've always done crafts on and off,” she explained, most often creating gifts for her family members and friends.
Last fall, the arts and crafts hobbyist conceived the idea to make antique silverware jewelry for Christmas presents, an idea Pam believes was heaven sent. Her creative spark came on the heels of the life-altering decision she made - after a lot of prayer during her drive to and from work - to give up her longtime office clerk position to aid her husband of 29 years, Pastor Randy Powers, in the ministry of Hermon United Methodist Church in Gate City, Va.
The idea to wear eating utensils, Pam said, was an “eclectic thing” which came to fruition when she began bending and shaping silverware from her own collection. Randy helped on the more difficult-to-bend portions. And she jokingly points out that it's a use for silverware you won't gain any weight from.
The silver bracelets and necklaces Pam gave her loved ones and co-workers as gifts during Christmas 2012 were well-received, and she was encouraged to turn her new hobby into a profit-yielding business.
“It kinda grew from there,” she explained.
The Powers' younger daughter, Sarah, said, “It kind of started out as a project [but] it turned out to be a business instead of just a hobby.. [Mom] loves it... We all do.”
Pam had never made jewelry before - and certainly not for retail sale - but the local artisan said her doubts were met with motivation from up above.
“This is a totally different type of craft for me,” Pam said. “But, God told me, 'yes you can do this. We're going to do it together [and] you're going to call it 'Leaps of Faith.'”
The first custom-made silverware pieces designed by Pam's hand (and partially forged by Randy's) were bent fork necklaces and no man bracelets - a named coined by their married elder daughter, Candace Bennett, because “you don't need a man to put it on.” The bracelet clasps are magnetic.
As her skills advanced, so have the styles of jewelry Pam produces for Leaps of Faith from silver or silver-plated flatware brought to her by clients or found while perusing antique shops with her daughters.
“I do bracelets and necklaces and earrings and pendants,” Pam said. “I also make spoon rings and hair clips, and in the future I'd like to make watches.”
After participating in four jewelry shows and with two forms of walking advertisement, Leaps of Faith Jewelry has grown in popularity during the past year. The 20-something siblings, Bennett and Sarah Powers, act as willing guinea pigs for their mother's business, wearing prototypes of her newest pieces for public feedback.
So far, crowd favorites include: the elephant necklace, cross necklace, and the wrist cuff, which Sarah Powers said is one of her personal favorites despite her usual indifference to jewelry.
“I'm not a big jewelry person. I never really had been,” Sarah said. “[Mom] started making these and I just fell in love with it.”
The silverware jewelry is inexpensive, lightweight and comfortable, Sarah explained. And her mom's designs range from simple to complex.“There's something for everybody.”
Pam said that, for her (and her supportive family), the business isn't about the money made from the jewelry; It's about the people who buy it.
“My hope is whoever buys a piece, that it's a blessing for them,” she said.
It may not seem like a far leap to use cutlery as an aesthetic for jewelry, but for Pam Powers, it took a leap of faith.
For more information on Leaps of Faith Jewelry, visit their Facebook page or call 276-791-2166.