by Maggie Zeibak
The Third Eye owners, Kit & Joann Sandidge.
Sparkly. Glitzy. Chunky. Bling-Bling. Oh, how America continues its love affair with colorful jewelry and never before has there been so much variety available, particularly in San Clemente. As the craze for stretchy, multi-colored bracelets reaches a peak, do-it-yourselfers flock to Third Eye Beads and Gift Gallery to snag the latest fashionable beads and jewelry-making supplies.
Visionary owners, Kit and JoAnn Sandidge have owned the shop for the past 7 years, bringing a lifetime of experience with them. This duo have invested in their own happiness, and spend time doing what they love. Not only do they run their retail company but focus heavily on national wholesale activities in jewelry and leather at CapoJo, which balances their overall business plan.
Kit owned the original Third Eye shop in Encino, one of the first bead shops of its kind. Even Time magazine was curious enough to give him a mention, so unique was his store. Meanwhile, JoAnn started beading and making jewelry in High School, selling her creations in a beach shop. Eventually, they married 25 years ago, raised 6 children who have been encouraged to participate in the family business. At the moment, son Buddy minds the store.
“We’re heavy on responsibility,” JoAnn laughs. “We’ve come a long way since selling hippie wallets although they helped evolve us into a jewelry company. This is a labor of love rather than viewing it as income. Our shop is designed to have something for everyone so the beads complement the gifts. Some things are seasonal and our stock lines offset each other.”
Displaying an amazing assortment of beads, the store is a treasure trove of unusual objects to thread. Drawers upon drawers line the wall filled with colored glass, ceramic, porcelain, enamel, carved marble and sought-after Swarovski crystal beads ready to be mixed and matched. Whimsical whales, mermaids, and ladybugs vie for attention against painted Chinese-style tubes, Zodiac signs and metal charms. Crafters can choose a little exotica with beads from Bali, South America, India and Bohemian glass from Czechoslovakia.
So, who are the people who are mesmerized by this historical form of currency? Who are the people who are bonding through beading? The Standidges say it covers a wide range of ages, from little girls to trendy teens, visitors from San Diego and from artists to informal clubs such as MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers). Every shopper has individual needs, and the Third Eye can provide everything from plastic to antiquities-style sold either singly or in kits.
JoAnn went on to say, “Our customers feel that our prices are really great and we love selling to people who live here. We have a little bit of everything and we keep the most popular items in stock year round. Customers are intrigued with our shop and everyone who comes in can benefit from our expertise, we’ll show you how or you can buy a book or rent a videotape. It’s all about empowering people to make it themselves. The beauty of creating something you like is satisfying and you can recycle the piece if you don’t like it!”
Each year, the Sandidges hightail it off to the Gem Fair in Tucson, AZ where tents and structures house huge containers offering the finest selection of merchandise. Here is where they do the majority of their purchasing and load up the car until there is no more room. Tradeshows around the country in Denver, Seattle, and Tennessee spark their enthusiasm as they get to travel as well as buying interesting and unique gift items to place in the store.
Focusing on an “Ocean” (shells, surfboards on stands, wind chimes) and “Fantasy” (beaded curtains, incense holders, pewter candle holders) themes, shoppers can find the perfect gift within a very reasonable price range. Starting from an incense burner in a gauzy holder ($8.99) and sticks of incense at 10cents a stick, an amethyst necklace costs $19 while silver crosses and lockets run around $25. Jigsaw puzzles, greeting cards, aromatherapy products and a wide range of studded leather jewelry can find their way into a delighted gift recipient’s hands.
“We offer free gift wrapping year round,” Mrs. S. said, “and anyone can be proud to give our gifts as they are well made items at very fair prices. We have gifts with a New Age influence yet other pieces that appeal to modern youth, like belly jewelry. Some of the necklaces I design and make myself and I offer a limited amount of custom orders. If you are looking for a gift for an elderly person, consider the watches and bracelets with toggle-clasps – they make it so easy for arthritic hands. Come in and browse through our collection.”
Considering all the options offered in this store, even if you’re not up for tongue or navel enhancement, body adornment continues through the ages and diverse cultures. At the Third Eye you can find exceptional jewelry guaranteed to gather compliments. At the moment we are drawn to bracelets. What will be the next “in” fashion blazing its way into San Clemente? Could it be those elaborate glistening chandelier earrings?
Putting San Clemente on the cutting edge of jewelry fashion is The Third Eye Beads and Gift Gallery, 434 N. El Camino Real.