CHEYENNE, Wyo. — As a person with fibromyalgia, local jeweler Sharon Bell doesn’t always know when chronic pain will suddenly weaken her arms and fingers, preventing her from beading necklaces and bracelets.
“It’s not all the time, thank goodness,” Bell said. “But there are days that I can’t make things because I can’t function. I can’t lift my arms because it hurts.”
However, what she does know for sure is that it won’t stop her from running Sunflower Designs, her small jewelry business in Cheyenne.
For 20 years, Bell has been making one-of-a-kind homemade beaded and leather necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other accessories for people to purchase. Locals can find her trinkets at 307 Made, a downtown storefront where vendors can sell their products, or at city and county craft fairs.
Prices and products range anywhere from $5 for a set of earrings to $120 for elaborate squash blossom necklaces. Custom orders can be taken by messaging Bell online or by visiting her in person at fairs.
Bell has a wide selection of jewelry available for customers to choose from, but says crafting it all can take a while with her condition.
“I work when I can, but when I can’t, I don’t,” she said. “I’ll be crazy busy [one day] and then won’t do anything for two or three days.”
Despite the inconsistent work days, Bell said jewelry making is her biggest passion and brings her a sense of calmness.
“It gives me peace and a mental go-to.” Bell said. “I can sit down and make [jewelry] and all the other worries in my mind just disappear.”
For the last decade, Bell worked as an office manager for Nielsen Chiropractic and sold jewelry as a side job. When its Dell Range office closed permanently last spring, though, she devoted all her time and energy into running Sunflower Designs.
“I was going to work during the day, then going home to do my mother duties, then working on jewelry for a couple hours a week and doing the events on the weekend,” Bell said, “but I was ready mentally to do [Sunflower Designs] full-time. This is my passion.”
Bell hopes she can eventually make enough profit to financially support the business and her family.
“I have an amazing husband who supports me 110%; without him I would not have quit my job,” Bell said. “But I would love to see this expand to where I could support myself 100% on this.”