Près Creative: From FriendRaisers to Foundations
Keri Close lovingly makes jewelry that was worn with pride first by the women of Los Angeles, and now the country. Like many artisan businesses Près Creative Fine Handmade Jewelry was born of both passion and need and continues to grow with talent and tenacity.
When Keri’s Husband, Eric Close, was working in South Africa a quick PSA was added on to his work schedule. No one knew at the time it would change so many lives. Because of this PSA, Keri was introduced first hand to the important work that the Africa Foundation does. She was touched by the joy and warmth of completed projects and moments later heartbroken to see a school without a roof. She was informed that $40,000 US Dollars would provide a roof. Keri and Eric headed home, resolute in problem solving, hosted a FriendRaiser (a house party with people you know specifically for the purpose of fundraising), and in one day $56,000 was raised and a roof was built.
This is a lovely story, but how did this lead to Près Creative?
When challenged by our pastor to find a place where our passion and gifts will have eternal value – I thought, “I am passionate about the people of Mduku and Welverdiend, South Africa. How can I use my gifts to spread the word about the work Africa Foundation does to empower and improve the lives of the people in those communities? What can I do besides write a check? Or have a party?” I had been making jewelry for fun for about five years (using only sterling silver, gold and semi-precious gemstones which makes it a very expensive hobby!) and giving my pieces as gifts to family, friends, my daughter’s friends and teachers. Then one day someone asked me “Why don’t you sell your jewelry?” My answer was, “Because I love it, I love being creative, and I love giving it away. It’s not about the money.” Then came the “ah-ha” moment. What if I could marry my passion for Africa Foundation with my passion for designing and making jewelry, giving away the proceeds to help the people in those S. African communities? This was the birth of Près (pronounced ‘pray’) Creative Handmade Jewelry.
As a natural introvert Keri’s time spent alone creating jewelry during the workday rejuvenates her and leaves her fresh for her family when they convene at the school day’s end.
Armed with a Masters in Social Work Keri’s first career had been in caring for other people’s children at Hillsides Home for Children in Pasadena, California. She was a therapist for pre-adolescent girls. Keri stopped working there during the second trimester of her first pregnancy and Près Creative was born a decade and a half later as her second daughter entered high school and her first daughter began to drive.
One could successfully argue that Keri never did stop taking care of other people’s children. She currently sits on the advisory board for Africa Foundation and at 47 is able to spend her days creatively exploring her passions.
At midlife Keri Close learned entrepreneurship.
She found it both daunting and exiting to learn the ins and outs of small business including how to make a business plan, getting the proper licensure, budgets, product pricing, marketing and building a website.
Her name is Keri Close. Jewelry is her “What”. People are her “Why”.