When you walk through Christopher Newport University’s Farmer’s Market, you’ll typically find a bright, smiling girl with a table full of handmade jewelry and accessories. The featured colors and patterns are just as vibrant and positive as her personality as she welcomes you to her table. This is Rachel Chung.
Major: Studio Art
Involvement: IJM at CNU, Pi Kappa, THRIVE, Einstein’s, Falk Gallery, Farmer’s Market, & off-campus volunteering
Tell me about your store, what do you sell? What is the meaning/inspiration behind the name of your store?
“So Kintsugi (kin-su-gee) Shop is a word derived from the Japanese form of pottery. It’s where the potter takes a broken vessel or ceramic piece and then fills the cracks with gold or silver lacquer. This is in order to represent that something broken is created into something beautiful in its redeemed state. This word has been so deeply interconnected with my personal life and has profoundly inspired me to create more out of vulnerability. Kintsugi also reminds me of the hope found out of the brokenness faced by those who have experienced trauma and abuse. A big part of my shop’s purpose is to help support missionaries and anti-trafficking organizations. Some of the more specific things that I sell are headbands, sea glass jewelry, and painted pendants. For the headbands I make I use clothing or interesting fabric that I find mostly from wherever I have traveled. Most of the fabric I use is either from Europe or Cambodia and Thailand. I like to be really intentional when picking the clothing or fabric I use for my headbands. I make sure that each piece has a story behind it that is meaningful to me and something that I would love to share with others. I also make jewelry such as resin pendant necklaces. These pendants are all hand painted by me and then resin is poured on top of the pendants. These are really fun to make, especially when someone requests a custom made pendant where I can get really creative with it and create something that’s deeply meaningful to that specific person. One of my most recent additions to the shop has been the sea glass rings and necklaces. Sea glass can be rare to find because it’s like an ocean gem that has been beautifully made overtime by the waves of the ocean. After being in the ocean, the sea glass will turn smooth and even transform into vibrant colors. The act of even picking up sea glass feels really personal because no piece is the same and each one is intentionally chosen. So whenever someone buys a piece of sea glass jewelry from my shop it makes me happy to know that piece of sea glass was unknowingly, but specifically chosen for that person.”
What is your favorite product to make? Why?
“I don’t think I have a particularly favorite product to make because I enjoy each one and its specific creative process. But, if I would had to choose it would probably be all of my commissioned pendants. I love creating meaningful art for others. Especially when I am asked to create a painting based off of either a specific meaning or prayer.”
How did you start making products in the first place? Where did you learn? How did you improve?
“A lot of the things I create is self taught with some inspiration through some friends, Pinterest, and Youtube, but, the biggest influence for me growing up was my mom. She always encouraged me to pursue creativity in the arts and taught me how to sew and draw. I originally started making headbands because I was trying to fundraise for my mission trip to Cambodia my freshman year. When I went to Cambodia I served at a children’s home and worked through an organization called Steps of Justice. Through this organization I was able to minister to the women in Cambodia’s red light district. During the summer of my sophomore year, I went to both Cambodia and Thailand for a month serving and doing ministry. After coming back from Cambodia and Thailand, I had this huge desire to continue supporting these organizations that I had the wonderful opportunity to work with. I saw that the things I was creating was becoming pretty successful and sought to use whatever I made in order to help support missionaries and anti trafficking organizations.”
Where can interested readers find your products?
“You can find my products on Etsy. You can also find me in person at the CNU Farmer’s Market which will be starting on Sept. 7th (every Thursday until Oct. 26) from 3pm-6pm outside the DSU. I have also become a part of different arts and craft fairs like the Hampton Roads Wholesaler’s Art Fair, which was really fun to be apart of. I usually post updates of where I will be in person on my Instagram, where I am most active social media-wise for the shop.”
What inspires your creativity?
“Creating for me is deeply linked to my Creator. I honestly didn’t see much meaning in creating art until I became a Christian. When I continued to walk in my relationship with God, I started to see His beauty through nature and the people around me, which has inspired me to create. Without Jesus I wouldn’t have even started this shop because it all stemmed from Him calling me to Cambodia the summer of my freshman year. A lot of the work I do incorporates works inspired by nature such as flowers, mountains, stars, and the ocean. I especially love the water; it’s something that I have always been drawn to. I believe all of nature speaks of God and gives a small picture of His presence and beauty.”
What are you the most proud of in regards to your store?
“The fact that I’m still able to continue this journey. I am so grateful to have this outlet in order to share the things that I’m passionate about and that I can help others through my craft.”
What are your long and short term goals for your business?
“One of my big dreams with this shop would be to turn it into a non-profit support business. I would love to use some of my funds to help with overseas anti-trafficking and mission organizations. Hopefully, I will be able to eventually teach women or children who are coming out of abuse or trafficking to create art. I’m also interested in collaborating with other artists to create a community where we can create to serve others. Maybe I could even have my own shop one day!”
What advice would you give CNU students what would like to open their own shops or work as independent creators?
“Don’t be hesitant to express your creativity. Be personal and meaningful in whatever work you create. Make sure to take time to be really intentional in creating things for whatever you make. It’s always good to have the advice and support of friends about the work you create. A lot of my ideas have come from my friends, family and even just the customers who I have had the wonderful opportunity to encounter with during my time at the CNU Farmer’s Market.”
What are your plans for after graduation?
“I definitely want to continue with my shop. I have this dream of traveling around the US selling things from my shop at different craft or art fairs and then living in a van for a few weeks after school ends. I’d love to pursue a degree in Art Therapy if I go to grad school. I hope to work with an anti-trafficking organization through art therapy or at a hospital. I’m also considering going to this discipleship school called the 18 Inch Journey, or doing some sort of mission discipleship training school. I’m highly considering the 18 Inch Journey because it combines both creative expression while also learning about the Lord through the arts.”
What is one interesting fact or hobby about you?
“When I was in Cambodia I ate the leg of a tarantula. I don’t really understand why I did that to myself considering how bad my arachnophobia is. I thought eating a part of the tarantula would rid me of my fear, but that just did not happen. I’m still terrified, but at least I tried!”