Dara Raisner likes to talk about her jewelry. She likes to tell people how she makes it, where her inspiration comes from and how lucky she was for the opportunity to be part of Styleweek.
"I had a table set up at the Give and Glam [the charity-focused evening of shopping, fashion and beauty] in Newport, and my friend blogger, Liza Corbo, suggested I get into Styleweek," she said.
Raisner spent a few summers as a teen going to RISD's Young Artists Program; she graduated from Cranston East in 1993 and holds Associate's and Bachelor's degrees in fine arts from CCRI and URI.
"I'm not sure where I got my artistic 'gene,' I'm just happy that I have it," she said.
After paying her entrance fee to Styleweek, she was ready for the next step. She paired up with designer Kara Wickman for her runway show. All of the jewelry - rings, cuffs and pendants - were her original pieces.
Also, Meaghan Mooney from "The Rhode Show" sported a ring on the show one morning.
"It was a week of fashion, fun and networking. It was such a great experience. Truly, it was the most exciting thing to happen to me in my life," Raisner said.
The highlight of Styleweek was the fact that several people actually commissioned Raisner to design and create personalized, one-of-a-kind pieces for them.
She can only make between six to eight pieces of jewelry in a batch. All the pieces are handmade with special two-part epoxy clay. She only has a two-hour window to work within before the clay hardens.
Working out of her apartment, she painstakingly places tiny Swarovski crystals into the clay with a special wax-tipped toothpick.
"People are fascinated by the process. I sell more pieces when doing live demonstrations," she said.
Her collection of all handmade pieces includes rings, key chains, cuffs, mirrored compacts, badge holders, hairpins and barrettes. She has also made cufflinks for men. All the pieces are made of adjustable metal, even the sterling items.
"This year was the year of dragonfly. It symbolizes new beginnings, or a rebirth. I also did special breast cancer pieces, and next year I am considering butterflies," she said.
Her ultimate dream would be to open up her own storefront.
"I would love to have a shop where all pieces are local, handmade pieces by various craftsmen and artisans," she said.
But for now, her pieces can be found here in Rhode Island at these locations: Prima Donna in Cranston, Luniac Glamour in East Greenwich and Fabulocity in Smithfield. Or check out her Facebook page at Harliquinn Designs.