WENATCHEE — When she was 17, Katelyn Mingo knew she wanted to make jewelry for a living. She worked at Sun Dog Bead Company in Wenatchee and dreamed of owning a shop like it one day.
“I’ve always just known once I started doing jewelry that this is what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.
Today, she’s the owner of Gypsy Lotus, a shop that sells her handmade jewelry, and also crystals, clothing, art and more.
For nearly 10 years, Mingo sold her jewelry under the name Gypsy Lotus at craft fairs, farmers markets and through commission at small businesses. In 2014 she finally opened up a physical location in downtown Wenatchee.
“I opened up the tiny shop and kind of slowed down the craft fairs,” Mingo said. “Then, when I had my daughter, I was very happy to have somewhere more permanent and still be able to do what I love and have a place for her and me to hang out.”
Two years after opening the first location, she moved into a new, larger space about five doors down. That’s where the shop is now, and her daughter Chai, 2, still accompanies Mingo to work most days.
“It’s kind of like a studio space where I get all my work done and get to hang out with my daughter and then people come in and I get to chat with them," she said. "It’s a nice mix of everything, for sure.”
Mingo also teaches jewelry-making classes at the store. In the studio space, she makes her jewelry, creates custom work and repairs pieces for customers. Her other art is on display, too.
“I love all types of art. I dabble in everything a little bit. I’ve done painting and pottery. But for some reason, I have a love for jewelry, stones and everything. I’ll find the perfect stone and be able to picture immediately what I’m going to do with it,” she said.
She describes her art style and her store as very Bohemian, and invites customers to share in that feeling: “Come let your inner hippie shine.”
Besides gems, crystals and stones, Mingo also carries local handmade art, clothing, accessories, decor and more. Customers can find cleansing sage, dried lavender, a merino wool rug made from local sheep’s wool and prints from a local painter.
“Anything that someone brings to me and I’m like ‘Oh, that’s really cool, I would love to sell that for you!” because that’s what I used to do,” she said. “I used to go to shops and do consignment in shops, so if I can support another artist, that’s really cool.”
Mingo said she was unsure how the community would respond to a shop like hers.
“It was a little bit like, ‘I’m opening a crystal shop in Wenatchee, how well is this going to go over?’ ” she said. “But once I opened up, it was incredible. People were like ‘Yay, rocks!’ ”
She was surprised when customers started coming in as excited about the stones and their uses as she was. Even requesting special stones to help ease anxiety or to help them quit smoking.
“People come in and they say ‘I really need a stone for this!’ and it’s like ‘Okay, let’s go over to the book and look up different stones for that’ — whatever they need,” she said.
Mingo has had her own experiences with stones.
“I’ve had a stone — this is kind of strange, I don’t know if I should tell this story — but I had this stone that I was buying, and I picked it up and it felt like it glued itself to my hand and was like “Nope, I’m going with you,” like, it grabbed back,” she said. “Later, I went home and I read about the stone and it was exactly what I needed in my life at that time.”
It turns out, more people are interested in stones than she expected. The clientele at Gypsy Lotus is eclectic, Mingo said. People of all interests and ages come in.
“Anywhere from the little teenager coming in and buying a few beads and making a pair of earrings here and there to a lot of 40- to 60-year-old women coming in,” she said. “Sometimes I think my jewelry might be a little wild for them, and then they come in and buy my most wild pair that I have in here and I’m like ‘Yes!’ ”
For Mingo, the store and her craft are ways to express her creativity.
“I’m pretty much excited about any day I get to make something,” she said. “Any day I sit down and make what I want to make is a good day."