Mary Kent Hearon’s jewelry collection is designed around her signature piece: The Heart Knot.
Woven together from colorful cords of cotton, silk, rayon and polyester, the knots are shaped into a heart, meant to represent healing for the broken-hearted.
At 38, Hearon – who works in a small artists’ cove off Millwood Avenue – knows a lot about healing.
She created the collection after a bad breakup with a boyfriend in 2008 left her bereft and looking for a way to put the pieces of her life back together. Sewing the hearts together helped heal her own heart, she said.
But Hearon’s journey really started on Sept. 11, 2001, as she stood on the streets of Manhattan, watching the Twin Towers fall in the worst domestic terror attacks in U.S. history.
“When you see stuff like that, you just have to change your life,” she said. “I just started thinking … trying to figure out my purpose in life.”
The Hammond School graduate attended Connecticut’s Trinity College and spent her junior year studying abroad in France. After college, she moved to New York City, first working for Christie’s Auction House and then in finance at a small venture-capital firm.
That is where she was working in the fall of 2001, when one of her college classmates died in the terror attacks. Hearon sought out a one-year certification program in holistic health. After completing it, she came back home to Columbia to help counsel the patients of her father – a heart doctor.
Hearon starting making jewelry in 2004 while she was running Dragonfly Wellness. She would make dragonfly necklaces and give them to her clients after they had completed the program.
She took a break to spend a year in London, working on a blog, The Heart Beet. She endured more heartache there, during the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings of public transportation, and returned to Columbia the following year.
She became interested in making a heart-knot collection when a friend loaned her the “Ashley Book of Knots” after her breakup. “I just got inspired from that book.”
Hearon started studying Celtic knots, collecting rope from various places – from New York, France and spots around Columbia, including Forest Lake Fabrics and House of Fabrics – to make her creations. After she gets a knot just right, she hand sews it so that it does not slip.
Not all of the hearts come out perfect.
But Hearon said she has noticed the imperfect ones sell the fastest.
“That’s the point,” she said.
As her hobby evolved into a full-time business, Hearon began spending most of her time handcrafting her jewelry and selling it at various boutiques along the East Coast and on her website, theheartknot.com. It can be found locally at Box, Paper, Scissors in Camden or at periodic trunk shows at Cottage & Vine on Forest Drive. Other South Carolina stores that carry the jewelry include Copper Penny in Charleston and Mount Pleasant and Millie’s in Pawley’s Island.
“When I get a big order from a big store, I don’t talk to anybody for three days,” she said.
Hearon currently is working on her fall collection – due out in August – featuring rich shades of gold, terra cotta and fuchsia.
Items sell for $58 for a mini-Heart Knot to $168 for a necklace with thicker cords and richer fabrics.
She also recently developed a clay polymer line. She uses patterns she finds on everyday items, such as antique silver, and presses them into the jewelry before setting it. And she has been creating a limited line of tunics and dresses, some of which feature cords to match her jewelry.
Hearon said her creative side always was simmering below the surface even as she worked in other arenas. Still, she could not have imagined in 2001 that she would be where she is today.
“But it makes so much sense,” she said.
She always had loved fashion, but if she had entered the fashion world in New York City, she fears she would have been “lost in the shuffle.”
Hearon, who comes from a family of doctors, said she finally has found her niche and her way to contribute to the world.
“I was just trying to figure out the part of me that was the healer,” she said.
Those who go through pain and suffering and then healing, eventually, can use their experiences to help other people heal, she said.
“I really think that is what the Heart Knot is for.”