Woman owned & Athens loved
Photos By: Grace Braslawsce
Jamie Clarkson, a master’s student at Ohio University studying journalism, is the owner of Pink Athena, a small Athens-based jewelry business. Clarkson creates handmade, polymer clay earrings and sells them via her Instagram page, @pinkathenaco. Clarkson’s business is currently run entirely over her Instagram page; however, she said she aims to move over to Etsy in the near future.
The page features all of Clarkson’s available creations – from watercolor-style moons to funky mushrooms and simple hoops – all of which can be custom-ordered by the customer.
While Clarkson’s business appears rather polished now, she said it initially began as a mere hobby to distract from the monotony of her schedule during quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have always been very artistic,” said Clarkson. “I always have some sort of art and crafts going on, especially last year, because things were really tough and intellectually challenging. So (my roommates and I) always had something because we all love to do little arts and crafts and these little projects just to get our mind off of things.”
In an effort to distract themselves from their stressful schedules, Clarkson and her roommates purchased Shrinky Dink material, where they began to make fun designs that would eventually inspire the jewelry in Pink Athena.
“I really liked the idea of novelty earrings,” said Clarkson. “I think the first pair of shrinky dink earrings I made were little UFOs sucking up little cows from a field, and it was neon color and weird. I went to Joanne’s and I got the little rings, the hooks, the backs of earrings, and little needle-nose pliers just to make a couple of earrings here and there whenever I wanted to. It’s something I could mindlessly do to get my mind off things.”
After enjoying this new hobby, Clarkson said she began to create her earrings out of polymer clay and utilize them as gifts for her friends and family over the holidays.
“I was having a hard time saving up money to buy everybody gifts,” said Clarkson. “So I thought, ‘I have a lot of people in my life who really do appreciate the little earrings that I make. So maybe I can invest in some materials, and I can make everybody some earrings – it will be lovely, and it would be fun.’ I bought a variety pack of polymer clay and some tools, and I wrote down all of my ideas. My friend Lauren likes music, so we’ll make her little records. My friend Emily is a schoolteacher, so make her little apples. My friend Morgan’s an anthropologist, so make her a slab that has little bones on it. I was just having a field day coming up with all of these ideas.”
Nikki Athans, who graduated in May 2020, was Clarkson’s roommate in her undergraduate years and was present for the formation of Pink Athena. Athans said she witnessed the evolution of Clarkson’s business from a fun hobby to a true side hustle.
“I think she just really saw her potential and [realized she] could make money out of this and enjoy doing it,” said Athans. “So, she made her Instagram account and she really got started actually selling. It started off as something to do other than classwork and just for fun, and, now, it’s a nice little local business.”
Kennedy Tucker, who graduated in 2019, has been a frequent customer of Clarkson’s. Tucker said she values the individualized nature of Clarkson’s work.
“I love that they’re made by her and there are no other earrings like hers,” said Tucker. “I also love them because I’m a social worker, so I work with kids that are getting adopted. I like to wear fun earrings because it starts a conversation at every home visit.”
While there has been an increase in demand for eccentric earrings recently, Clarkson emphasized the importance of solidifying her brand’s image in each of her creations.
“I, by no means, am the first person to create polymer clay earrings, not at all,” said Clarkson. “But I’m striving to create a sort of distinctive look – this sort of funky, quirky, artistic, eclectic, weird way that anybody can take a look and be like, ‘Oh, that’s Pink Athena.’ So I’m really proud of what I’ve done so far.”
This devotion to the quality of her work has not gone unnoticed by those who have purchased her earrings, Tucker noted.
“I can tell that she pours her heart into each pair,” said Tucker. “And I’m glad that she’s found a good way to express herself through really cool earrings.”
For Clarkson, the most rewarding part of her business has been the ability to see her customers enjoy the work she has created.
“I love seeing other people appreciate what I’m doing,” said Clarkson. “I love when people post pictures of their little outfits with their little earrings, it’s so sweet to me. [I love] to see them embrace that creativity and that kind of funky flair that Pink Athena is, it’s really awesome.”