Interchangeable jewelry becomes a magnetic business for Susan Fahsel

Susan Fahsel’s best ideas for her custom-designed jewelry come in the middle of the night.

Suan Fahsel uses ideas gleaned from the middle of the night to help createsome of her favorite Magnabilities.

Susan Fahsel’s best ideas for her custom-designed jewelry come in the middle of the night.

“I have a binder full of them,” she said. “I call them my 1 a.m. thoughts.”

Those thoughts have transformed from dreams to paper and into Magnabilities, her six-month-old business that applies art work to interchangeable, magnetic jewelry for necklaces and pendants.

The 39-year-old Lake Tapps graphic artist knew she had the right idea for such a business after freelancing her sign work for Absolut Vodka and other liquor companies.

“The problem is that the signs I printed were permanent and two weeks later, what they sold were obsolete,” she said. “I could keep going like that but I knew there was another way. My solution was to make the signs on steel and print the art on magnetic material,” she said.

She created a prototype.

“I had some left-over steel that I framed and made some small magnets of a girlfriend’s pets and children as a magnetic bulletin board for the kitchen,” she said. “I gave it as a gift and others wanted one, too.”

If art work could be interchangeable, so could jewelry, she realized. Her sample work easily won over the support of friends and neighbors. She applied for a patent and soon had a supply of necklaces in silver, leather and satin in lengths varying from 16 to 30 inches, available in four different styles of pendants and finishes. A friend created Fahsel’s Web site and others gladly offered to help her keep up with the demand for filling orders.

“I have friends who will work for jewelry,” she joked.

Even with all of the help, she said, the thought of starting a home-based business can be daunting – especially when an idea gleaned from the middle of the night becomes an overnight sensation.

“All the fears you have, I finally had to say that I just needed to do it,” she said.

She took her finished creations to the Puyallup Spring Fair, where she wowed parents with her designs.

“Where you’d have thrown pieces of art in a drawer or box, you can walk around and proudly wear what your child has made,” she said. “It makes them even more proud. It looks like something you’d find at a gallery.

“You wouldn’t know that my daughter’s art was created when she was 5.”

The demand for Magnabilities continues to increase, as evident in her license agreement with the American Cancer Society.

“For every necklace bought (for breast cancer awareness) there will be a donation made,” she said, adding that a friend and her mom are both breast cancer survivors and an inspiration for the work.

“It’s close to my heart,” Fahsel said.

She took her business to the Super Mall over Mother’s Day weekend. She’ll appear at the Fremont Folk Life Festival in June and later this year to the Victorian Country Christmas. She has also offered help with school fundraisers and recently began branching out to the world of home parties.

Watching her customers find the joy in her wares is satisfying, Fahsel said.

“I don’t mind that an 8 year-old has a Magnabilities necklace,” she said. “Grandma is wearing it, too. That’s a really fun thing – that it’s customizable to everyone’s style.”

For more information on Magnabilities, visit www.magnabilities.com.

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com.

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