In a world where everyone is looking down at their phones and posting selfies with messages about their own lives, 23-year old PB resident and jewelry-maker Bea Doheny is spreading a message of curiosity about things beyond oneself — a reminder to "look up."
Doheny has been selling handmade solar system bracelets and other astronomy-inspired jewelry since April 22, 2016 (Earth Day) when she officially launched her Astronobeads website, and she's over-the-moon about its three-year anniversary.
She said the fun of Astronobeads online is her ability to reach people all over the world. She's shipped to Australia, Israel, Romania and Budapest, and her products have been featured by some of the science community's favorite people — Bill Nye the Science Guy sports her Mars & Moon bracelet.
Doheny said her desire to spread curiosity about space and science is reflected in Astronobeads' mission statement: "To wear and share the love of the cosmos."
A trip to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Dayton, Ohio with her father when she was 7 years old may have been what sparked her fascination with the universe. The sign in the background of a photograph from that trip, reading "Powering Dreams," also left an impact on her.
From there, science TV shows and astronomy courses in high school fueled her captivation with the cosmos. "I think space is the ultimate thing to wonder about," she said.
Her experiences at an art studio specializing in collages, jewelry and mosaics — combined with her creative, artistic nature — led Doheny to begin creating solar system bracelets as gifts for her friends who were graduating high school. These unique keepsakes were accompanied by personalized notes with messages like: "Whenever you look down at your bracelet, remember I think you're out of this world."
A post on her Instagram page to show other friends her work resulted in an onslaught of queries from followers asking where they could get a solar system bracelet. So, "just for fun," said Doheny, "I made extra bracelets for anyone who simply asked for one." It wasn't until winter break of her sophomore year at University of Missouri (where she was majoring in marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship), that she began selling her now-widely famous product.
Currently, she sells 16 Astronobeads pieces, including moon bracelets, Mars and moons bracelets, Jupiter and Galilean moons bracelets, Pluto and galaxy choker necklaces, and Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy hoop earrings — priced at $15-$30.
While her first solar system bracelets did not include the beloved dwarf planet Pluto, she has since added the option for customers — an option, she says, nearly everyone has taken her up on. Despite Pluto being dismissed from the "planet squad" in 2006, Doheny insists: "We all still have a sweet spot for Pluto."
Each piece of jewelry shipped includes a hang-tag with a message. Customers who ordered the Solar Eclipse bracelet in 2017 received this note with their jewelry: "In our always spinning world, sometimes we get caught up and lose sight of the bigger picture. On Aug. 21, take a minute to fully witness the Total Solar Eclipse. Life moves fast; this bracelet is your reminder to stop and look up."
Now, Doheny's got her sights set on a new line of jewelry: gemstone-based, Zodiac-inspired rings.
But for the foreseeable future, she said she'll continue selling online, and eventually, in retail stores. In the summer and spring, she's at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market (4-8 p.m. every Wednesday at 4900 Newport Ave.) and the Gaslamp Artisan Market (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday, 599 Fifth Ave.).
While Doheny says she could make Astronobeads a full-time job, she likes the structure that comes from working part-time at Retention Rocket, a tech start-up that uses e-commerce software to help online businesses retain their customer base.
"I love how outer space can bring everyone together," Doheny shared. "It doesn't really matter if you're in this country or that country, or you believe in this religion or you speak this language, the universe is this common thing we all have to explore and learn about because we live in it together."
In honor of Astronobeads' three-year anniversary April 22, Doheny said she will offer a discount price to customers for the day. Additionally, those interested may also use the year-round code "sandiego" for 20 percent off their purchase at astronobeads.com