Unusual combinations of beautiful natural materials are the hallmark of local jewelry biz farahbean. Think freshwater pearls strung together with leather and buffalo horn; and turquoise and semi-precious stones woven with sandalwood. To Kristi Parkinson and Stephanie Nelson, the owners and founders of farahbean, those combinations make perfect sense and represent something more than jewelry. Every piece represents farahbean’s motto: “Life well lived.”
Parkinson, who lives in Orono, and Nelson, who lives north of the metro, met while they were both stay-at-home moms, and began creating pieces together because they couldn’t find unique jewelry anywhere else. But making jewelry started to become more than just a hobby when Nelson’s father was diagnosed with leukemia. While sitting with her dad in the hospital, one of the nurses taught Nelson the fundamentals of jewelry making. During that period, Parkinson and Nelson said to each other, “This could really be something.”
Almost right away, they contracted with a large public relations firm in New York City, and farahbean was quickly featured in big-name magazines like Shape and InStyle. Their jewelry was featured in Nordstrom stores, and both Parkinson and Nelson attended all five launches of their jewelry—in five different cities over five days.
And their company didn’t even have a name yet. Finally, they landed on “farahbean.” It’s a combination of Nelson’s childhood nickname, “Farah,” and Parkinson’s childhood nickname, “Bean.” From there, farahbean began to morph into something more than just a jewelry company.
Today, there are no more PR firms or product launches across the country. It’s just Parkinson and Nelson who manage their business, but they prefer it that way. It allows them to have more creative control over their products and stay true to the original vision of farahbean.
Parkinson and Nelson have both created bracelets for friends battling cancer and then given a portion of the sales back to those friends. “It just feels right,” Nelson says, “and it makes you feel good, knowing that you’re helping.” Keeping the business small also allows them to keep farahbean Jewelry a family affair. The white-tailed deer horn used in their jewelry and bags is supplied by Parkinson’s parents, and the bags are sewn by a woman who uses the extra income to support her family. “We both believe that a well-lived life should be reflected with good, quality pieces of jewelry,” Parkinson says. “And Stephanie and I love to help our clients show that in their everyday lives.”