Kelli’s seaglass work gets worldwide attention
St George's is quiet before the kick-off of cruise ship season, but Kelli Thompson’s Saltwater Jewellery Designs shop just had five million virtual visitors.
On March 6, Ms Thompson and her seaglass products were featured on CBS Sunday Morning, a weekly television show seen around the world.
Ironically, she missed her five minutes of fame. The show, hosted by Conor Knighton, was scheduled to run the previous week, but was pre-empted by news of the conflict in Ukraine.
“The first I knew that it had aired was when a lady called me and said she just saw the most beautiful scarf hanging in my boutique,” Ms Thompson said.
She was taken aback because it was Sunday and the store on Water Street was closed. Plus, the woman was calling from California.
“She said, I just saw you on CBS Sunday Morning,” Ms Thompson said. “I said, oh, what did I miss?”
The California caller sent Ms Thompson a YouTube link to the show.
“It was exciting to watch,” Ms Thompson said. “I thought Conor did quite a good job linking the whole thing. I came in between Samuel L. Jackson and Dolly Parton. That was my five minutes of fame.”
She was featured in a story about seaglass, which also highlighted several seaglass enthusiasts in the United States.
“The introduction was done through the Bermuda Tourism Authority,” Ms Thompson said. “They sent me an e-mail asking if I was willing to do an interview regarding seaglass. I said absolutely. They came here to do a show about eels spawning off the coast of Bermuda, but wanted to do something else to utilise the cost.”
Mr Knighton came into her store to interview her last September.
“He was very down to earth and easygoing,” she said. “He made it quite easy for me to talk to him. It was just him and another lady. They utilised Bermudian production company LDS Multimedia. I think they also used a Bermudian videographer.”
She said everything was done very quickly.
“They came in and got the cameras rolling and that was it,” she said. “They asked general questions like what got me started, and how long have I been creating with seaglass. It was just general chit-chat.”
The taping was a nice anniversary gift for her. Ms Thompson celebrates ten years as a brick-and-mortar store in St George's in October.
“It all aligned itself accordingly,” she said. “Being on the show was not anything done intentionally, but it was very interesting.”
Saltwater Jewellery Designs has evolved quite a bit over the years. It now offers not just jewellery made from seaglass, but also from other materials such as semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls.
“This year we are adding in a small clothing line just to pivot a bit and diversify,” she said.
She started collecting seaglass 22 years ago when her daughter was little, then started making jewellery with it.
She describes her jewellery pieces as “understated, unique and beautiful”.
“They are something you can wear on a daily basis,” she said.
Ms Thompson has never moved away from collecting seaglass. It is still a “Sunday fun day” for the family, but she does not do it as much as she did in the past.
She said the pandemic has made things particularly tough for businesses in the old town.
“At present, the town is extremely quiet,” she said. “But I see that the Government has put the orange ferry route back on between Hamilton and St George's. That’s good. Things are slowly coming back into play here for 2022. Hopefully we will get the cruise ships calling and we will be opening up as an island. We are pushing forward, hopefully.”
In recent years there has been controversy over seaglass and whether it should be protected, or whether tourists should be allowed to remove it from the beach by the bucket full.
Some see it as trash and some as treasure.
Ms Thompson believes the seaglass should be protected.
“It has become quite an attraction for the tourists, but it is best that it is protected so there is something there for future generations for people to utilise.”
For more information, see saltwaterjewellerydesigns.com, e-mail email@example.com or call 519-9906.