Meet Your Merchant: Truckee High School student starts nonprofit jewelry store |

Meet Your Merchant: Truckee High School student starts nonprofit jewelry store

Jason Shueh/Sierra Sun Quina Willams shows off some of her custom jewelry designs as her mother, Roxanne, looks on at Sassafras Boutique in Tahoe City.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; How to set it up. Thatand#8217;s the task for Quina Williams, 16, a tall girl with blonde hair who leans over a case of shiny merchandise and#8212; jewelry to be exact and#8212; for a photograph. She begins grabbing necklaces and earrings, each decorated in a variety of stones shaped into flowers, cut into leaves and other fauna, quickly deciding which ones to showcase for her budding and#8212; yet humble and#8212; business, Quina Designs

Yes, thatand#8217;s right, sheand#8217;s 16 years old, and sheand#8217;ll be a junior this fall at Truckee High School. And no, this isnand#8217;t the result of parental coaxing or hypnosis and#8212; this is all Quina.

Her mother, Roxanne Williams, owner of Sassafras Boutique in Tahoe City, said she remembers it plainly. One day, mother and daughter going to pick out jewelry items to sell in her store, Quina gazing and handling the selections, before, in an instant, her thoughts lead to the idea of jewelry making and#8212; which quickly evolved into jewelry selling, which led to a website, which led to a business, then to perhaps the most impressive part of all: a nonprofit business dedicated to charitable donations.

In July, sales of her jewelry creations led to $58 in donations to the Humane Society of the United States, and in August, $101.35 went to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Earlier this year, she raised funds for the American Red Cross to assist with Japanese tsunami victims.

Quina said sheand#8217;s hoping donations continue to grow as jewelry sales rise on her website and at Sassafras.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s not as much money as Iand#8217;d like to be donating. Iand#8217;d like to be donating hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I really feel like anything is better than nothing,and#8221; Williams said.

Yet, for her family and friends spectating Quinaand#8217;s entrepreneurial venture, itand#8217;s the effort and goodwill that matters.

and#8220;Kids her age definitely have a lot of things they want to buy, and so for her to donate, it was neat,and#8221; said Roxanne.

And, like most companies these days, Quina has taken hers into social networking, creating her own company Facebook page that, as of Wednesday, had a total of 54 and#8220;likes.and#8221;

and#8220;Wow, beautiful Quina, your artistic spirit really shows in your designs,and#8221; said Theresa Vargo, a Quina Design Facebook fan.

Czech glass leaf, amethyst berries, Swarovski crystal, sterling silver, 14 Karat gold, Blue Opal, pearls, beads, lots and lots of beads. These are just a few of the materials Quina works with.

Her relationship with a pair of pliers and wire cutters and#8212; and honing her wire gauge preferences and#8212; has resulted in an abundance of rings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces, erupting into dozens of designs, and an inventory that numbers in the hundreds.

And itand#8217;s not just casual wear and#8212; Quina said she also specializes in custom jewelry for weddings, proms and latest trends.

Quina isnand#8217;t sure where the future will take her (really, who is at age 16?) but studying is important. College is a must. Sheand#8217;s considering being a science major. And though her horoscope might be uncertain, she knows wherever she goes, her business and hobby will go with her in one form or another.

and#8220;Iand#8217;d love to continue this in college and perhaps one day open up my own studio,and#8221; she said.

How that all develops is still to be determined; however, for the moment, she is focused simply on developing her business, donating to as many charitable organizations as she can and enjoying it.

Her mother agrees.

and#8220;I think itand#8217;s a great thing and#8212; I want her to focus on her schooling and have that as a secondhand thing and#8212; but Iand#8217;m excited for her,and#8221; Roxanne said.

Setting her sights, Quina said her next charity to donate to will be the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international nonprofit dedicated to marine wildlife conservation through investigation.

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