We sat down with whimsical jeweler and clothing maker Genna Carter to learn about her unique recycled creations.
Tell us your artist story.
I have always loved creating things, even as a child. I always had some project I was making. By the time I was in high school, I had zeroed in on making jewelry. When I went to college, Virginia Tech, I majored in Art History and had a second major in Sociology. I would not talk about my studio classes and none of my friends even knew I was taking them until one day I walked into a political science class and had a very visible panic attack. My professor was absent and his GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) was heading the lecture for the day. For weeks, this unbeknown GTA had been my nude male model for my studio watercolor class. Before he could notice me, my friends covered me and dragged me out of the lecture hall asking me if I needed help. That is how I was discovered as an artist but I lacked the confidence to ever show my work to anyone other than other art professors and other artists. Flash forward to spring semester of my senior year and realizing that “starving artist” was going to be a reality, I switched the order of my majors and got my Bachelors in Sociology. I went on to get my Masters in Criminal Justice; I have a thing for serial killers.
Fast forward to life as a Mom with three kids… I start getting the itch to create again and pick back up making jewelry. Memories of my Grandmother’s button jar, zipper pouch, and other recycling efforts keep resurfacing. I began making button bracelets after a 2012 trip to the orthodontist lands me with a $5,000 bill for my oldest child. I worked in a preschool and a gym and both jobs did not annually total $5,000. Realizing I had three kids with three sets of crooked teeth and would be facing $15,000 in dental bills, I started selling jewelry at small church craft fairs and farmers markets. My business was officially named “Bracelets4Braces”. I have since become “justGenna designs” after paying for those three sets of braces in full. I should really expand “justGenna” to let people know I have paid for a flooded kitchen, a flooded ceiling repair, a washer/dryer, vet bills, year round soccer, college applications and donate 10% of everything I make to local charities, usually anonymously. “justGenna designs” has also expanded to designs that has included shirts and skirts made from recycled tshirts and neckties, gloves and scarves from recycled sweaters, signs made from salvaged wood, jewelry made from furniture industry remnants and from neckties. Every item I make is a one-of-a-kind. I love meeting people who connect to my work. My favorite item to create are my themed skirts and I live by the motto that “life is too short to wear boring clothes”. I have a very snarky sense of humor that gets me into trouble too.
What does being a part of Whimsical Women mean to you?
This will be my 7th year as a Whimsical. I do not take this lightly. My first year of shows I met a Whimsical artist. She encouraged me, gave me a sense of worth, became my friend and introduced me to this Whimsical Women Show. I applied and was juried face to face with one of the founders. I learned of the backstory of the show, the meaning of the show, and learned about women lifting one another through art. I learned about strength and courage in numbers and acceptance for who you really uniquely are. I felt accepted, understood and felt a community like nothing ever before. If I drive into a show parking lot and see a Whimsical magnet I immediately know I have a friend inside somewhere that will be support, kind, and a soul sister. Being a Whimsical Women is more than just a show. It is a verb to me. Whenever I am at other shows, I observe and when I find a woman who is unique, off the beating path, funky creative, kind and genuine I share the story about Whimsical Women like someone once did for me.
Where can folks find your funky, upcycled art?
I live in High Point and currently keep a busy calendar of shows from the Charlotte area to the Raleigh area. I have Facebook and Instagram and post where I will be each weekend. I really enjoy meeting my customers face to face. I did not get the same satisfaction when I was in brick and mortar. I have recently reopened my Etsy store for the online shopping.