There are many words that could be used to describe Jessica Parks.
She’s a Plymouth, Mass. homeowner, wife and mother, a jewelry designer, a customer service representative, a business owner, a shipping specialist and an e-commerce expert. Five years ago, an entirely different set of descriptors would have been used to describe a South Carolina woman who helped a friend run her business and worked fulltime as a special education interventionist for pre schoolers.
It’s only a few years later and a few states over, but Parks said the overhaul of her home, family and work life has transformed her mindset, given her a creative outlet and pushed her to own her dreams.
“I loved teaching, I loved the kids and the families, but it just wasn’t for me,” Parks said. “I cared so much and was always overwhelmed with guilt that I wasn’t doing enough … This business was an escape. I looked forward to coming home and doing it, I found it therapeutic.”
Parks started Miss Lou Makes as a home décor business in Charleston in 2017. It wasn’t until a few years later that she moved to Plymouth and another year after that before a COVID-related furlough pushed her into the business full time. By then, she’d largely changed her product offering and was starting to specialize in homemade beaded bracelets.
“Once I started jewelry, I just never stopped,” she said. “It gave me back a piece of who I was when I was a kid. It unlocked a part of me I’d forgotten about.”
After a year of furlough, she quit her job to invest more money into supplies, more time into making jewelry at home and more time away from her family to sell her wares at markets and vendor fairs. Once she took the business full time, she started pitching to stores and now has several wholesale clients, including Kia Maria by the Sea in Sandwich and Sprezzatura Boutique in Plymouth. Two years ago, she was making 10 bracelets per week. Now, she’s up to about 100.
Everything sold by Miss Lou Makes is made by Parks in her small beach-town cottage in Plymouth while her two young children are napping or down for the night. The precious few hours of solitude are how she makes the jewelry, posts to social media, answers emails, updates her website and fills orders from her Etsy store.
“I love colors and I love texture. It’s super important to me with jewelry,” she said. “I like to build bracelet stacks and I love them to have different colors, patterns and materials … With jewelry and art, it’s all about what you’re drawn to. I’m all about connection and experiencing it in new ways. Whatever calls to you, it was meant to be.”
Some of her pieces are understated with neutral tones, and others are brightly colored with tassels and stand-out beads. Her ideal customer? Someone with a “funky style.”
“Somebody who isn’t afraid to mix colors or patterns or metals. Someone who just wants to have fun with their accessories, experiment and not take it too seriously,” Parks said.
Despite leaving her job in teaching, Parks hasn’t stopped giving back. She currently has several bracelets that give back to local charities. One, which features a turtle-shaped bead, benefits the National Marine Life Center on Cape Cod and a bracelet that says “support local babes” gives to an organization that works to put feminine hygiene products in schools.
“It’s OK to not get stuck,” she said. “My happiness is at all all time high, and my stress level is at an all time low. You can’t argue with that.”
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.