Kailin Kelderman, who goes by KK, has an eye for color and a passion for creating art. For the past four years, the teenager has fused the two together and now creates glass jewelry pendants. "It's wonderful," the owner of Keldernam Klassy Glass says with a smile on her face.
We met her in her newly-built home studio, where she spends hours fusing glass. Her pendants are all one-of-a-kind and colorful; each one is as unique as KK. KK has Down syndrome, but the 18-year-old does not define herself by her disability. "I view myself by doing this." She carefully and meticulously sprinkles small pieces of confetti glass in between two glass plates. Once the design is to her liking, she gently places the fragile piece into her kiln and lets it cook for eight hours. Her parents help her cut the glass and wrap some of the pendants.
KK handles a bulk of the business, however. Aside from designing the jewelry, which sells for about $10 a piece, she also updates her website with new pictures of her product. KK's pieces are quite popular. She travels the country selling her jewelry at shows. "One's in Oregon, Sacramento, Washington, D.C. and Seattle," says KK.
KK says the feedback she receives makes her feel great. She credits her parents for encouraging her to put her talent to good use. KK's mom, Mary Bryant, says many people with disabilities live in poverty and they do not want that for their daughter. So they looked for ways KK can support herself while doing what she loves. "I think you need to look at what everyone's gifts are and what their talents are and know that you need to always have high expectations of your children," says Mary. "We're really proud of her."
KK's accomplishments are gaining attention, not just at jewelry shows, but online. She was recently featured in a music video by MindfulMusicVideo, called Let's Build a World For Us All. It begins with a shot of KK in a hospital bed, showing her alone and unproductive. The goal is to show the misconceptions some people have of those with disabilities. The video then quickly cuts to video of KK selling her jewelry. Other peoples' abilities are highlighted as well. It is just more proof that KK is much more than a teenager with Down syndrome. She's an artist, an entrepreneur, a sister, daughter and friend. Above all, she is a role model and a creator of beauty; beauty without limitations.
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:59 AM EDT2013-05-23 06:59:26 GMT
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