I grew up in Dublin, Ireland in a family of 7. I am the youngest and the only girl. I have been creating art all my life. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or creating something. It started with a box of Crayola crayons and never stopped. I went to St. Louis High School in Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland. St. Louis encouraged me to pursue my love of art and it is here that I prepared my portfolio for art college in Ms. Gaynor’s class. I used to lug my large portfolio case on the bus and around school everyday. My portfolio continues to be one of my prized possessions that I have brought with me every time I moved, including three transatlantic journeys.
As a teenager, I discovered beading. I would travel into Dublin city on the bus to Yellow Brick Road on the Quays to buy Swarovski crystals and beads. I loved the textures and colors of the crystals and beads and made simple necklaces and earrings. One Christmas, my Mum bought me a book on Russian Beadweaving, and I became obsessed. I loved the intricate beading in the book, and I taught myself through the diagrams. The designs were difficult and time-consuming, but it was wonderful spending the time quietly concentrating on creating, and the end results were worth it. Most of my early creations went to family and friends as gifts.
I was an academically strong student, and so I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to take a traditional academic route in college. When it came to my Leaving Certificate and CAO time, I applied for Law. I attended University College Dublin (UCD) where I earned my Bachelor of Civil Law. Keen to travel and to grow in my career, I sat the New York Bar Exam in 2006. I had read about the Bar exam in my favorite John Grisham books. It was my first time in New York and I spent most of it in a hotel room studying! I remember the day I received my results – delighted with my achievement of passing first time, I ran down the stairs clearing 4 steps in one leap to tell my family. My husband and I moved to Connecticut that Autumn with our daughter, and I began working in the tax department of one of the big four accountancy firms. My son was born in 2008.
Art was still a big part of my life, and I continued to paint and make jewelry, mostly for gifts. Busy seasons in the office often meant 15-hour days, seven days a week for months on end. This was tough with a young family, and I honestly missed having time to make something and be creative. It was my ritual that once the busy season ended each year, I would make a piece of jewelry to celebrate.
In 2018, after more than ten years in that business, I decided to make a change. I left my professional career and decided to spend more time with my children and take care of my health. This gave me an opportunity to focus on my true passion – art. I had sold my jewellery at some local markets and to family and friends for a number of years, but wanted to grow my business online and to spend more time on designing new pieces. I created my website and started an Instagram account. I use my Instagram account for most of my marketing. It can be nerve-wracking putting myself and my pieces out there, but I know it is the thing to do now in 2022 to get exposure and share my pieces. I have tried to do some live Instagram posts and I cringe watching them back, but I have gotten positive feedback on all of them. I’m learning bit by bit and there are lots of people willing to share their tips and tricks online. I have built some wonderful connections with people in the design community on Instagram and have lots of connections with other Irish individuals around the world.
I am in the early phase of my business. However, I do believe there is a niche for unique handmade jewelry. People appreciate a bespoke piece of jewelry for a special occasion. I have had the pleasure of designing pieces along with my customers taking their input for color and design. People have become more environmentally conscious and welcome a departure from “fast fashion” / “throwaway fashion”. People would rather invest in a unique and quality handmade piece that they will keep for years. I also keep sustainability in mind when sourcing my materials and use recycled / eco-friendly packaging including a thank you note on seed paper that can be planted and grown into flowers. A colorful piece of jewelry can easily jazz up any outfit and is an easy way to express ones personality. I love what I do and hope it shines through my pieces. My mind is constantly filled with new designs and ways to use new materials and I can’t wait to try these out.
Siobhán has her own business called Siobhán Kiernan Designs, creating handmade beaded jewellery. Every piece is hand-crafted by Siobhán in her studio in Connecticut, U.S.A. Most of the pieces are made using Swarovski crystals and Miyuki seed beads. Each pair of earrings takes many hours to create from the first bead to finally attaching the metal hook. Siobhán Kiernan Designs is part of the 2022 To Be Irish Gifting Guide.