Nettie Hepner

Owner of Netties Beaded Earrings


Artist Bio

At the age of about 11 or 12 something sparked. I went to the pow wow in Salamanca for the first time. I ran into my Seneca language teacher (Tom Printup). He had a stand set up, He was selling beads. I was so attracted to all the different sparkly colors, varieties and textures of beads. As I explored the pow wow, I immediately fell in love with all the beaded jewelry, especially the earrings. I went back to Mr. Printup’s stand. I asked him if he could help me pick out some of the basic materials I would need to get started. I knew right away I wanted to make earrings. I was so excited to go home and get started. Although beading proved to be much more challenging than I had anticipated.

I tried so hard for months. I bought a few different beading books. Still, I couldn’t finish a single project! Disappointment morphed itself into determination. I didn’t give up! For about the first year I learned how to knot and untangle knots! Mr. Printup had tried to teach us a few things in school. Again, I could never finish a project because I was so good at making knots. I never thought I would ever be considered an artist. My grandma Maxine Dowler heard I was trying to learn. She called me up one day and asked if I would be interested in taking a class at the museum. I said “yes, please! I’m not very good but I will try”. She picked me up and dropped me off. She told me to never give up! I believe the class was taught by a lady named Kathy Mitchell. It was a 3 day class on barrette making. She was so encouraging! I FINISHED my first beaded project! It was a little pink hair barrette! It was far from perfect but I actually finished! I was so proud of that barrette! I actually still have it today! The next year I went back to pow wow & purchased a pair of “simple” brick stitch earrings. I brought them home and studied them. I eventually ripped them apart bead by bead. I figured out how to make my very own pair. The rest is history!

I began making my family members earrings. I made a pair for my mom, my gramma and my sisters. Before I knew it people were asking me to make them a pair. I agreed! I then realized I could charge for them. I set up a very small case at my father’s jewelry store (Mongillo Jewelers). It did much better than I had ever expected! I was selling my own jewelry! After a few years I started getting more confident. I started going to Charla Bach’s beading group. I met a lot of talented ladies! Charla used to pick on me all the time saying, “You didn’t make that!” she was a character that lady! We miss her dearly. I started beading anything I could get my hands on! Different styles of earrings, bracelets, hair barrettes, lighters, lanyards, badge holders, hats, necklaces, large medallions, pop sockets, head bands and even a Dr.’s stethoscope! Before I knew it my business had blown right up! People would come from all over asking for my work! I needed a Business Name. I had one very loyal customer who always referred to her earrings as her “Netties”. I absolutely loved that! That’s where I got my name “Netties Beaded Earrings”. I have a large display at Mongillo Jewelers 10xs the size of when I first started with much more than just earrings. I have sold thousands of different pairs of earrings and projects. There are people from all over the world who own my jewelry. From Mexico to Alaska and so much more!

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