Bel Kai was founded in 2006 in Long Beach, CA by Whitney Wright, and began as a home studio in the dining room of her California bungalow. With previous experience in creating jewelry as a hobby and after receiving a gift of a pendant made from paper, she was inspired to create a collection of necklaces. Simple in concept, sometimes just a chain & a pendant, made beautifully unique by placing & sealing artwork in sterling silver settings. The first years were quite the hustle and marked by art shows, craft fairs, open houses & orders for local boutiques. The designs were original, so the possibilities for personalized work were limitless. Requests for custom pendants soon followed.
In the years following, the bulk of the business was built on creating something unique not only for loyal customers, but also as large orders for non-profits & organizations looking for unique gifts or fundraisers, or to support local musicians and artists by featuring their designs in a collection of jewelry. In 2009, an online shop was launched!
In 2011, Whitney met her now-husband, Luke Wright, also an artist and founder (MudLOVE). Since their marriage in 2013, Bel Kai & MudLOVE became the two flagship brands in a brick & mortar shop called Belove, located in Winona Lake, IN. Belove was the birthplace of the first Bel Kai jewelry bar, where you can create your own jewelry, from handmade & curated components that fit every style & personality.
In February 2021, a partnership with Vida Plena was established. Vida Plena, an artisan studio in the Dominican Republic, exists to empower women to break the cycle of poverty in their communities. They offer a holistic approach to training, offering each woman counseling, language tutoring, eventually supporting women as they become entrepreneurs. And now, every day, the beautiful, hard-working women at Vida Plena are creating Bel Kai jewelry.
That’s the short story! Here's a bit more from our founder, Whitney.