The Super Crafty Melanie Conwell

This week iMeet chats with Melanie Conwell. Melanie and her daughter Erileigh own Dweedlebeadles, an artisan jewelry and gift business. They are a favorite at the Paducah Farmers’ Market, and now you can find them at other locations in Paducah too. Melanie likes her tea unsweetened and her days busy! iMeet this amazingly artistic woman!

Welcome to iMeet, Melanie - tell us about yourself...

I’ve lived in Paducah most of my life and love this town. I had the best childhood here. My husband and I were fortunate enough to raise our daughter in the same manner...in a close neighborhood of friends and family. Days were spent outside with friends, and weekends and holidays always meant everyone gathered for meals to spend time together.

So, you’re married and have a daughter– tell us more…

My husband, Patrick, and I will have been married 35 years this Christmas. We were introduced by a mutual friend...and nine days later we were engaged. We got married less than three months after first meeting. The planning's not the big deal folks...making the commitment is…understanding what marriage is all about. 

We have a beautiful daughter, Erileigh, and she makes us proud every day, and so happy for the family the three of us make. Add in four cats, all with very big personalities, and a little dog named Joonie, and it's one crazy household!

Tell us about your business, Dweedlebeadles...

Dweedlebeadles is a business I started in 1996 with a friend, Michelle Boggess – we designed custom bracelets made from sterling silver and glass beads. We booked in-home trunk shows, mainly in the Paducah area and Nashville, and had a thriving business.

Michelle moved to Florida in 2001, and I continued the business for a few years before putting it on the back burner due to lack of time. When Erileigh returned home after graduating college, she proposed that we revamp the business and make it a mother/daughter collaborative...and thus, Dweedlebeadles today!

We design and create jewelry with a bohemian flair and couldn't be happier doing it. Lots of leather, pearls, and natural stones go into our pieces...and lots of Netflix, Pandora Radio, coffee, arguing, yelling, laughing, and conversation shared that I wouldn't trade for anything. It's been some of our best times spent together.

Tell us about some of your more unique products...

Dweedlebeadles isn't just about jewelry. We've recently taken a fancy to preserved and dried flowers - we now make flower crowns and adorned antlers with them. They've proven to be very popular and we love making them. I think Erileigh likes making them better than the jewelry.

But what people always look for is our seasonal vintage style jack-o-lanterns made from dried gourds. This will be our 5th year to sell them and every year we gather a larger following. People start contacting us in May about availability. It's an exciting time...and it's happening now.

We are smack dab in the middle of a batch of 200 that we hope to have ready to sell by the Eclipse weekend. We are working frantically to make it happen, but it's a very long, arduous process, and we depend on the help of family and friends to make it happen. In past years we have sold to markets outside of Paducah, as well as locally. This year we want to keep sales all local, so watch for updates if you are a fan. 

You guys just started selling at the Smedley Yeiser -  tell us about that...

Something very exciting happened in May. Erileigh opened her very own lifestyle boutique in The Smedley Yeiser called Raven & Moth. She offers a full service salon specializing in natural color. And of course, our jewelry, flower crowns and antlers are abundant among the carefully curated offerings of clothing and purses - all sustainably made and only found in her shop in Kentucky. Dweedlebeadles jewelry pairs so well with the collections. Unique home goods and prints can be found there, too.

We also are a part of Ochre Art Collective in The Coke Plant. You can find a large collection of Dweedlebeadles pieces for sale there. Erileigh and I also work there on Mondays if you'd like to stop in and say “hi” or ask about a custom order.

What's the best part of your job? What is the hardest?

The best part of being a local artisan is seeing other people admire and enjoy your work. The hardest part is anticipating the market and steering clear of "trendy" fashion.  Dweedlebeadles is all about creating "keepsakes".

What is your busiest time of year in your position?

Wow, from June until mid-August every spare minute is taken up with jack-o-lantern making. Then it's time to start ramping up for the season change and upcoming holidays. We will be crazy busy from now until Valentine's Day, I hope!

What do you like to do in your free time?

What's free time??? It's jack-o-lantern season, haha

Sweet or unsweetened tea? 

Unsweet tea...just don't like really sweet drinks! My favorite is the unsweetened iced green tea from Etcetera.

What's the best vacation that you have ever been on? Tell us about it...

We take a family vacation to Old Florida (St. George Island, Apalachicola) every spring with our family from Chicago and we have the best time. There's lots of seafood and wine involved...it's great!

What is your favorite movie of all time?

I don't know if it's my favorite, but every time I see Chocolat on I have to watch it. That movie makes a statement regarding a lot of different issues.

We’re excited to spotlight you, your family, and your thriving business, Melanie...thanks for being our iMeet this week.