Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

January 22, 2013

Jewelry to sink your teeth into

Local sisters design custom piece for TV vampire drama

Bart Doan
CNHI

AVON — For the better part of 20 years, sisters Kelsey Halsey and Brodi LaRoche joke that they didn’t really get along. Now, the two are practically inseparable, forming a bond with their custom jewelry business.

The sisters started their business, Tag ... You’re It, in 2009.

And they’re about to get much more popular. One of their jewelry pieces will hit the pop culture scene after being featured on the popular TV show “The Vampire Diaries,” a CW network supernatural drama.

The main character in the show, Elena, portrayed by actress Nina Dobrev, will wear a bronze necklace created by Halsey and LaRoche on the show airing at 8 p.m. Jan. 31.

“We were looking for something to do in the home to earn some money for our families,” LaRoche said. “We started making some things for ourselves and then some of our friends wanted it and it kind of took off from there.”

Both women work in a studio in Halsey’s Avon home. They got their big break in 2012 when Nia Peoples, an actress with ABC Family’s teen drama “Pretty Little Liars,” used Twitter to show off a photo of a piece of jewelry made by them. From there, Leigh Leverett, stylist for “The Vampire Diaries,” saw what they could do and chose a hand-formed bronze pendant for use on the show.

“We work from home, but I have a 2-year-old and Brodi has a 3- and 7-year-old, so in between oxidizing, putting things in the kiln, and brushing, we’re changing diapers, feeding lunch, and doing our motherly duties,” Halsey said.

The women said their mother came up with the name for their business because of that juggling act. There are times, they say, when one or the other literally has to say, “Tag, it’s your turn to work,” while the other attends to their children.

“That’s definitely the hardest thing, finding a good balance,” LaRoche said. “Within a few months, it (the business) kind of took off right away for us. We started in August and that first Christmas we were very busy and every Christmas since then has doubled.”

LaRoche said most of their jewelry is sterling and fine silver. But, since “vampires” can’t wear that, they created a gold-filled chain paired with a handmade bronze pendant. Their piece competed against about 80 others that were being considered.

She said they believe their pieces are so popular because everything is unique and custom-made.

“Our most recent custom order was Choose Joy necklaces,” LaRoche said. “There was a girl that had passed away about a year ago, and that was her phrase. She was sick and she always said to ‘choose joy.’ Her friends have a tattoo of that, and it’s her actual handwriting. So we made necklaces with her actual handwriting that said ‘choose joy’ so her friends could have her handwriting with them all the time.”

Halsey added, “I think our jewelry is unique because you can personalize it any way you want. You can put kids’ names on it, loved ones. This year we’re coming out with more products where you can use someone’s signature, artwork, or design and actually make it into a necklace. It’s really unique because it’s not something you can go to an actual store and buy. It’s very custom.”

The sisters’ pieces usually cost anywhere from $18 to $80. They now offer a line for men, and they also make items like bracelets, golf markers, and guitar picks.

But before any of that, the sisters are sitting down to watch “The Vampire Diaries,” a show where the main character fights for the love interest of two vampire brothers in a town where supernatural beings live amongst the townsfolk.

“I saw the e-mail first,” LaRoche said of the notice that their piece had been selected for the show. “I had come out of the store and I saw it and screamed out loud. There were so many people that submitted things and I thought ‘we don’t have a chance.’”

Halsey said, “I was on the phone with her when she read it and I was screaming. I was so excited. I was so happy all day. You don’t expect the actual costume designer to get back with you and say, ‘I’m using it on this character and in this episode.’”

The sisters were married within six months of one another. Halsey and her husband moved to Hawaii for awhile, but the sisters are now closer than ever.

“We weren’t friends growing up,” LaRoche said. “If you’re going to do something like this, you’d better like the person you’re doing it with.”

Halsey agreed and added, “We were strictly sisters. We’re pretty much inseparable now.”

The women’s goal is to build on what they’ve created to this point and eventually open up a small retail store.

For more information about Tag ... You’re It personalized jewelry, visit the website at TagYoureItJewelry.com. They are also on Facebook by typing in TagYoureItJewelry and on Twitter @TagYoureItShop.