Beadwork proves relaxing, provides new business venture for Simms
Casper – It all starts with some microscopic beads, heavy-duty thread, a loom and an idea. Several days later, it is a work of art. For Kailey Simms, it is relaxing to create unique beadwork gifts for clients, family and friends.
Like most young women, Simms’ interest in beadwork stemmed from a desire for a one-of-a-kind item that was too expensive for her to buy.
“It all started because I really wanted a beaded belt,” Simms says of her venture into beadwork three years ago.
“I loved how those belts look. I thought they were just gorgeous, but I didn’t want to spend $300 to $500 to get one,” she says.
A trip to Hobby Lobby produced some beads and a loom, and she went home and taught herself the craft.
“I never took any formal training, it was just mostly a lot of trial and error. When I would get stuck, I would look things up on the internet and YouTube until I figured it out on my own,” she explained.
Simms started out big.
“My first project was that belt I wanted so much,” she says. “When I finished it, the beads were a little bit wobbly and it wasn’t perfect, but it saved me a lot of money, and I’m so proud of it.”
In the last three years, she has made phenomenal progress with her work. Now she makes bracelets, hatbands, headbands and belts for clients, family and friends. She can also make horse tack, like beaded bridles and headstalls.
Starting a business
To market her designs, Simms started a small company, Double Twisted K Beadwork, which can be found on Facebook.
“Most of my work comes from word-of-mouth or from my Facebook page. I don’t market it anyplace, but I am in the process of building a website,” she says.
Simms develops her intriguing designs from things she sees that inspire her.
“Some of my best ideas came from my geometry class,” she recalls. “I like how the shapes and patterns all work together.”
She also has a beading program on her computer to help finalize her designs, and determine which colors look best together.
Most of the beadwork is custom, so Simms’ customers also give her some input into what they would like.
“Because it is expensive, customers usually want me to make something unique and something that is designed just for them,” she says. “As I make these items, I really enjoy seeing my clients’ personalities come out in the patterns.”
Although she hasn’t been commissioned for a really unique item, Simms has made some items with very unique patterns.
“I had a friend who requested a belt in eight different colors of beads,” she recalled. “I thought it looked a little wild, but it had an intricate design. It was actually pretty neat when I finished it.”
These belts can take anywhere from three days to a week to finish, depending on how complex the pattern is.
“Beadwork is very time consuming and tedious, and lots of people ask me how I can stand to do it, but I have found that I really enjoy it,” she comments.
Simms works with a local leather worker, Lee of 37 Custom Leather in Casper, who does the tooling and carving on the belts after she finishes the beadwork.
“The belts look really nice when he is done,” she says.
A look to the future
While she’s continually working on new projects, Simms is also finishing up an education degree through Western Governor’s University and substitute teaching full-time. Eventually, she hopes to become an elementary school teacher.
Because of her love for children, Simms readily contributes to children’s causes. Two of her more recent projects were belts for Fight Like a Kid, and the Make a Wish Foundation.
“Two amazing kids who are fighting cancer had a rodeo put on for them, and I was asked to make two very special belts for these children,” she says. “The best part is that I was able to do this at no cost. It is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, and I was very honored to be asked to do it.”
Kailey Simms of Double Twisted K Beadwork recently wed Cody Simms, who is also a craftsman.
Cody enjoys welding and makes horseshoe tables in his spare time. These tables are a unique design that he would construct alongside his grandfather, Melvin Simms.
“His grandfather taught him to weld, and they would build these tables together. It is a project that is near and dear to his heart,” Kailey said.
Cody also makes different types of frames from barn wood. In their own home, he made a custom frame around their television. The frames can also be used for mirrors and pictures.
With the unique talents of this couple, they hope to one day open a small store in Casper, where they make their home.
“It is a dream of ours to open a store where we can sell the things we make,” Kailey says.
Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.