by Addy Rogers
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Being an entrepreneur isn’t what Kristy has become, it’s who she’s always been.
Ever since she was a little girl running up to burly fishermen to sell fishing flies on the Alaskan riverbanks—using her profits to invest in beads that she’d make into bracelets, she’s seized opportunities others neglect to notice.
In 2021, decades after she established an alliance with the Alaskan fisherman that learned to trust the integrity of her fishing flies, Kristy found herself on the brink of another opportunity: the chance to save not just her life, but her daughter’s life.
It was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the combination of depression, being separated from community, and prescription pain medication reignited her past addiction, leading to a relapse.
No stranger to how the rest would play out, she agreed to reach out to Providence Heights (PH) after her family and friends confessed they worried she’d be swallowed by the sea of darkness yanking her under.
What started off as a simple follow-through on a promise to “get better” turned into the catalyst for repairing her family, finding sisterhood, and launching her own business.
Only a few weeks after joining the PH program with her then two-year-old daughter, Kristy found herself magnetized by the kindness and intelligence of a volunteer by the name of Alisha, a chef turned successful businesswoman, who dedicated countless hours to championing the first cohort of women who went through the PH program.
Kristy’s eyes start to sparkle as she recalls how flashbacks of making bracelets with her fly fishing earnings started to make their way into her conversations with Alisha, and how Alisha would swell with excitement over the trademark characteristics of a born-to-be entrepreneur.
It was conversations like these—struck up between life-coaching, counseling, classes, and responsibilities as a mom—that brought the idea of Esther Sky Jewelry to life.
Five months into the PH program, on a hot July afternoon, Kristy took a trip to Hobby Lobby and splurged on four-hundred dollars worth of supplies to start making bracelets. That amount might not sound like much, but at the time it required a kind of courage Kristy wasn’t used to.
Whereas in the past, she had been brave in fighting for her life, this time she was fighting for her future.
“That moment symbolized so much. It was the first time I invested in myself, because it was the first time I believed in myself.”
Kristy officially launched Esther Sky Jewelry—an homage to her daughters “Esther” and “Sky”—before graduating from Providence Heights in March of 2022. Joining the Providence Collective not only helped her create infrastructure and develop a marketing plan, it anchored her plan for the future in purpose and meaning.
“Those early days we’d just sit around empty tables at PH trying to disguise the knot in the bracelet without it showing, working on bead patterns, figuring out how to standardize measurements for different wrists. The other ladies in the program were my first employees, my biggest supporters.”
Originally just an opportunity to create financial independence for herself, Esther Sky Jewelry has turned into something much bigger: creating a legacy.
For Kristy, her bracelet designs are secondary to her dream of creating employment opportunities for women who may otherwise face hiring barriers and providing a workspace that’s rooted in love, kindness, and creativity.
On any given week, you can find a group of women huddled around charms, pearls, pliers, and kintsugi beads,a Japanese term that means “golden seams,” where gold is painted over lacquer to mend broken pottery. A metaphor that’s become a signature in all of her designs.
Some, like Eva (a fellow program participant in that original cohort), Kristy has known since her days at PH. These women are more like sisters, having linked arms through the hardest parts of healing. PH staff and volunteers often pick up the pliers, too. Others come from church and various circles of friendship, finding it hard like everybody else to resist Kristy’s electric energy.
The “ESJ beading club” happens by word of mouth and text. From friends rallying friends. Moms telling daughters, and PH program participants knocking on their neighbors’ doors when their phones light up with an invitation from Kristy. Somewhere between texts and knocks, a woman will receive an invitation to make a bracelet.
But really it’s so much more.
This river of communication, Kristy insists, is God's way of helping women find their way to a fresh start, a new beginning.
Her blue eyes light up like they’ve seen the future when she says, “I’m changing the legacy for my daughters. I want them to know that no matter what anyone says or what statistics people try to make them believe…anything is possible.”
As she makes a knot and threads a single kintsugi bead on top to disguise it, Kristy's taken back to the riverbanks, her fingers finding the same rhythm she used to tie fishing flies.
Tying knots is her way of reinventing the future.