Relish owners Terri and Jennifer grew up in northwest Millcreek, in the Eaglehurst subdivision, just one block from the beaches of Lake Erie. As children, they collected everything, including beach glass, on daily walks on the beach with their mom at the foot of Shorehaven Dr.
Beach glass has always had a certain allure for the girls. It's not only the beauty of the beach glass that attracts them. It's the story of each piece that's discovered and the mystery of where it originated from, what it once was, and how long it's been in the water. It's the thrill of the hunt and the euphoria of an amazing find.
Both girls knew early on that they wanted careers that allowed them to be creative and artistic. When she was only a junior in high school, Jennifer knew she wanted to be a jewelry major. She earned a scholarship for Columbus College of Art and Design, and studied sculpture and glassblowing, design, painting, and drawing.
Like Jennifer, Terri also knew in high school that she wanted to do something artistic, and was particularly drawn to jewelry-making, pottery and woodshop. Largely self-taught in the art of metalsmithing, she uses real-life experiences to develop creative approaches to her jewelry-making.
So, this is how it happened...
Despite their artistic ability and inclination towards jewelry making, the idea to work specifically with beach glass didn't come until later on, when Jennifer's then 6-year-old son, Spencer, asked her to make him a ring from a piece of beach glass he'd found.
It was a perfect fit with her passion for sterling silver, and from that Aha! moment on, she began making jewelry out of beach glass exclusively from Lake Erie.
Once word spread about the jewelry Jennifer was creating, everyone seemed interested, and she began having difficulty keeping up with demand. She asked her sister, Terri, to help her - and to have faith in her idea and this new adventure.
Finally, after almost three years of working out of a 10 x 13 laundry room in Jennifer's home, the sisters decided it was time for an upgrade, and opened their first store, Relish, only a street away from their childhood home.
Those days, they hunted for all their own sea glass, and spent countless hours each day at the beach with their children in tow. They were selective, and searched for the best pieces to make jewelry with, filling garbage bags with trash along the way to give back to the beaches they were taking from.
The first 6 years the store was open Jennifer and Terri didn't even advertise. Word of mouth and satisfied customers kept business coming. In 2001, Relish’s rapid growth prompted another expansion, and the girls moved to a new, 3,000 square ft. storefront at 3835 W. 12th St.
The heart of it all
It wasn't always easy, but a combination of creative energy, natural drive and entrepreneurial spirit helped the sisters transition from 'artists' to owners of a successful, start-up arts-based business, braving the multitudes of hats they now had to wear, massive amounts of paperwork, and a shaky economy.
Their passion for what they do keeps them going. The girls try to create pieces they think are beautiful and that will appeal to the masses. They offer a diverse range of designs, from free-flowing and organic in nature to sophisticated and modern.
But the secret to their success, in addition to beautiful jewelry, is the relationships they build with their customers and the lengths they go to in order to make them happy.
Both sisters are "people" people, and say that customers are like "getting to visit with friends every day." They love taking something nature has already made beautiful, making it more beautiful and then seeing customers' reactions to the pieces they've created.
The relationships Terri and Jennifer built with their customers led the girls to include custom pieces among their offerings. These pieces, which the girls consider to be the heart-beat of the business, often use a customer's own piece of sea glass, allowing them to create their own unique piece of jewelry that they have a personal connection with.
They want each customer experience to be rich and unique, and they achieve that by always trying to exceed expectations and creating beautiful pieces of jewelry.
The sisters only see growth and positive movement in their future. They plan to travel and exhibit at more art shows in the years ahead and, of course, to continue being creative. Beyond beach glass jewelry, Terri makes window art using found objects and recycled items, including mirrors, bulletin boards and collage art.
Along with their their jewelry, Relish is also full of creative products like framed beach glass art, note cards, hand bags crafted from old license plates, purse holders, ornaments, paintings, books, mirrors, ceramics and coastal related art. Everything you can find at Relish is high-quality, unique, artistic and uncommonly beautiful!