Conversations: The Bead Lady

Kathleen Reeder, aka The Bead Lady, is encouraging people to shop local on Small Business Saturday. I first met Kathleen Reeder several years back when I photographed her for a business feature in the Independent Tribune newspaper. Her business, The Bead Lady, which she runs alongside her husband Justin, is a mainstay in downtown Concord and a delightful place to visit. I started running into Kathleen at wedding shows and learned that she was helping brides design their own custom jewelry unique to their wedding day. The Bead Lady offers custom wedding jewelry, bridesmaids jewelry, headpieces and anything else the bride may want. In addition she can hand roll a wedding bouquet into jewelry which is an awesome way to preserve your wedding bouquet from the day.

James: Why do you like creating custom wedding jewelry?

Kathleen: For us, we’ve been married for 25 years, and the wedding industry has changed over the last 15-20 years. Now a wedding can be high couture, it can be country, it can really be whatever you want. For us, to be able to design a piece of jewelry for that day for that bride, is really cool.

You can look at the dress and get a vision for what the bride wants and then we can design the jewelry. You know, ivory isn’t just ivory anymore, there are so many shades of white and other colors and we have access to all of that. We can pull together samples and see it come to life.

James: You're right about the change. 10 years ago the photojournalist in me would never have wanted to call myself a wedding photographer because posed family portraits are not really my thing.

Kathleen: It has changed, which is great. Now the wedding industry is really about the bride and about her style and what her vision is. It’s totally different that it was 25 years ago, and that is very exciting. It’s not just your mother’s pearls anymore.

James: When I shoot a wedding, I always try and find creative ways to photograph the jewelry and the other details because I know how important they are. I made a photo of a small angle pendent at a wedding a couple years ago and a few months after the wedding, the bride emailed me to say how grateful she was for that photo because she had lost the piece after the wedding. Fortunately, she recently called to share the good news that she found it.

Kathleen: Jewelry details for the bride are very important. They really represent who she is and her look for the wedding that she’s going for. It’s very important to us that they love the piece we design.

James: What are some of the common things you design now?

Kathleen: Everything is based in the dress. Of course, if it’s a higher neck, you wouldn’t do a necklace and with a lot of the strapless gowns you would do a big statement necklace. Couture pieces are big right now as opposed to several years ago when you would wear a simple string of pearls and that was it. It’s really based on the dress and what the bride wants and to make sure the color matches specifically. Your shades are really important.

James: What kind of tips would you give brides currently planning their weddings?

Kathleen: Really go with something specific to what you like. The choices out there are incredible. You can find a gown that works for you that is based on your personality and the theme of your wedding. From there we can design a piece that really states who you are as an individual and as a bride.

It's important to find vendors that really suit who you are and what your vision is is really important, there are a lot of great vendors out there who into you on that day and that is important.

Want to learn more? Visit her web site at

She is very active on Facebook and Instagram @TheBeadLady01

The Bead Lady retail store is located at 01 Union Street North in Downtown Concord.