Laurie and Lisa Designs started to sparkle when people began buying jewelry off of Laurie Wetterschneider’s neck.
She started making jewelry in 2003, when her sister Lisa Peterson visited Tucson from New York. With their mother in tow, the sisters took a class on beading and loved it.
“It was just kind of a riot,” says Peterson, 52.
Stringing together semiprecious stones and pearls turned out to be just the thing to close the distance between the sisters. When strangers took notice, they realized they might be on to something. Laurie and Lisa Designs became a business.
“I’ll be in restaurants, and people will come up to me and say, ‘Where did you get that?’” Wetterschneider, 57, says. “My husband is embarrassed. I wear the price tag on my necklace and just tuck it in.”
In New York, where the sisters grew up, Peterson used the jewelry-making business to take time away from her law career to raise two boys. The sisters each design their own pieces, and take the proceeds from those sales. Wetterschneider manages store sales in Tucson and California and runs trunk shows, but the business got its start at home.
“It became a family activity to string pieces,” Wetterschneider says. “My husband would go to the gem shows with me and would lay out necklaces out on a board with the stones on my desk and ask, ‘How about this one?’ and ‘How about that?’”
With a childhood home on Madison Avenue and her first job in a boutique, Wetterschneider couldn’t skip an opportunity to create something beautiful with her own hands.
She makes statement pieces, with multiple strands and chunky gemstones or larger pearls. Peterson tends to work with smaller stones, gravitating toward colored stones such as topaz and amethyst.
Some necklaces sell for as much as $3,000, Wetterschneider says. Others go as free donations to charities near and dear to Wetterschneider’s heart, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. So far this year, they say their business has donated more than $60,000 in merchandise to various charities.
That’s a lot of bling.