When you walk through the doors of this quaint storefront in Byram, you’ll notice immediately that there’s more to this store than making a transaction.
Marie Handmade, on Siwell Road in Byram, is a jewelry and gift shop owned and operated by Stephanie Marie Robertson. When you walk through the doors of her quaint storefront, you’ll notice immediately that there’s more to this store than making a transaction.
Family history of Mississippi-made business
“Do you want something to drink?” Robertson will ask. “Can I get you anything?”
Robertson said that this is just a habit she formed after watching how her grandfather approached his customers.
“He’d say, ‘You want a Coke-Cola?” said Roberston. “He will still ask, too!”
Robertson said her love of working with people is engrained in her DNA, which makes sense given the long history of her family members being business owners.
Her grandfather, 99-year-old Don Kazery, owns Don Kazery Furniture Company on Chadwick Drive in Jackson. Her mother, Sandra Kazery Davis, is an interior designer. Her brother, Stephen Little, is an accomplished photographer.
Needless to say, there’s creativity and grit in their veins.
Though Robertson said she knew she was set to follow in her family’s footsteps, she had no idea it would one day lead to jewelry making.
“After I got my business degree, I knew I wanted to open a store,” said Robertson. “We found this place where we are now, and I opened it as a gift shop.”
The journey to jewelry-making
When Marie Handmade initially opened twenty years ago, the handmade gifts were not items she had crafted herself. Over time, a desire to learn more, coupled with fond memories of an old childhood hobby, led her to pursue something a little more hands-on.
“When I was a little girl, I’d go rock hunting with my brother,” said Robertson. “Crystals, arrowheads…I loved it then, and I can see how it somewhat influenced me to want to learn jewelry making.”
Robertson took jewelry-making classes through the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild, taught by Betsey Liles, owner of B. Liles Fine Art Jewelry.
“That woman was pure talent,” said Robertson. “That level of work is truly fine art.”
Even still, Robertson had a desire for a deeper level of understanding with jewelry-making, so she took silversmithing classes.
“I started piling the classes on,” said Robertson. “And I bought all the equipment. I fell in love with it, and I was all in.”
Robertson said she enjoys the contrast of working with the equipment versus what she’s creating with it.
“I make simple, modern jewelry that you can live in,” said Robertson. “Feminine pieces. But I’m using all this manly equipment and playing with fire to make the pieces!”
Robertson said some of her favorite pieces are custom designs; working with clients to create a piece that has real meaning to them for any special occasion.
“I love the sentimental value of jewelry,” said Robertson. “That’s a piece that is invaluable to you because there’s something there that you can’t get from any other piece of jewelry.”
Robertson uses sterling silver, rose gold, and 14-karat gold-filled metals for all of her designs, for the livability and durability of each piece she makes.
“I tell people you can live in these pieces,” said Robertson. “Of course, it will last even longer if you take it off when you go swimming, but it wouldn’t hurt now and again over the course of a lifetime.”
Of course, Robertson has stuck to her gift shop roots, supporting other Mississippi-based artisans.
“We also offer a large assortment of Mississippi-made artwork and gifts such as photography, pottery, hand-poured candles, bath balms, local honey, wedding/shower gifts, baby gifts, and more,” said Robertson.
For more information about Marie Handmade, visit MarieHandmade.com.