Hoop – there it is: Store’s specialty is the classic round earring

‘One Happi Place’ owner hand selects inventory from artisans around the country
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn resident Jae Kennedy has turned her interest in jewelry into a second career. Kennedy, who previously worked in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley, recently opened One Happi Place in Downtown Auburn. Her focus is hoop earrings. “I pretty much only wear hoop earrings,” she said recently. She started with online sales about a year ago, working out of an upstairs office in the Promenade building. Then when a storefront in the building became available recently, she took it. Kennedy has put a lot of attention into the inventory, selecting it piece by piece. It is hand made by artisans living throughout the United States, created from sterling silver or gold with precious and semi-precious stones. “When you look at my collection, it is broad version of what a hoop is,” she said. “And I’ve included some other designs.” The uniqueness of each set makes the earrings popular as gifts. In fact, a lot of her customers are men. “It has been proven that men buy 60 percent of all jewelry for women,” she said. “(The jewelry in the store) is higher end. It is good quality, which is very appealing to men.” Kennedy is also taking a hand in the styling, introducing an innovation she created in collaboration with three artists. Trademarked as Stranz, it’s a basic hoop earring with interchangeable strands of gemstones. “I call it the little black dress of hoop earrings,” she said. For someone who loves to wear earrings, the idea makes a lot of sense, she said. “I like hoop earrings but I don’t want to own 30 different pairs just for what hangs down from the hoops,” she explained. “So it was a way to introduce different things from the hoop while keeping the cost down. Once you buy the hoops, you just accessorize them. You can dress them up or down.” Kennedy has some Stranz items in the store now, but it will be formally introduced in several national publications in October, she said. Auburn resident Kelli Yates already has purchased two pairs of Stranz — one in silver and one in gold. “I can just change out the different strands so I can have different earrings,” she said. “I thought it was really a unique idea. She has all kinds of different gems. You can buy things to match different outfits." Jane Fergus, a longtime Auburn resident, discovered the earrings when she saw Kennedy wearing them when they were both at the manicurist. “When I’m in Downtown doing other errands, I stop in and say hi,” she said. “I’ve purchased several pairs of her earrings. They’re very unique. … For years I worked as a hygienist and that was our only individuality — we wore uniforms. I got very interested in having different kinds of earrings.” Getting the business off the ground during the past year, Kennedy has spent a lot of time establishing working relationships with artisans around the country. “For me this has been a learning process,” she said. “What I found fascinating is the quality of the workmanship. I came out of a manufacturing background and appreciate the time and care it takes when artists polish the stones and hand wrap the wires for each piece and the amount of work that goes into each pair of earrings I have here.” Prices range from $100 to $400. There’s a 90-day layaway service available and customers can opt to fill out a “got-to-have it” card. “Then family members or whoever is purchasing the gift can come in and purchase it and I’ll wrap it as a gift,” Kennedy said. Besides jewelry, the shop carries Jazzy Toes socks and handmade crocheted and knitted caps, headbands and flowers for kids. Customers can also create their own fragrance with Studio Parfume. According to Kennedy, the product is good for people who have allergies because it contains no alcohol or water. “It’s all natural oils,” she said. She is also a notary public and offers notary services in the shop. The Kennedys moved to Auburn in 1997 to be near family and for years Jae commuted to work in the Bay Area. As director of business logistics, part of her job was to manage all off-shore manufacturing for the company. That meant traveling a couple of times to year to places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. “I would drive home every Saturday morning to visit my husband and mom and then drive back Sunday afternoon,” she said. “I decided to do something so I could live in Auburn.”