New York City is full of amazing women living their dreams in all industries. It’s easy, once at the pinnacle of your career, to grow lackadaisical and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
But Sabrina Thompson, creator of beanpYe jewelry is not one of those lackadaisical women. In fact, Thompson is a fabulous designer, former TV producer, high school teacher and networking queen. Talking with her left us out of breath– the woman works hard!
We were first drawn to her gorgeous hand-painted bangles that have been worn by Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado and India.Arie. Imported from Mumbai, each piece has a unique design and inspiration.
Read what she told us about her jewelry line, other projects and the most surprising part of being an industry girl.
MN: Did you find a void in funky jewelry pieces in New York?
Sabrina Thompson: You would think there were a lot of options in the city for funky jewelry! [Laugh] I thought there would be, but I would go around and never quite see exactly what I was looking for. My jewelry and my bracelets are hand painted and imported from Mumbai. They are the void that was missing.
MN: When do you find the time to paint?
It’s funny, I’m a huge football fan. So during the season when a game is on, I grab a couple bracelets, my paint and a snack and focus in. I’m in my own zone. I’ll just watch the game and paint a couple pieces.
MN: When did the company start? And how did it initially pick up?
ST: The idea started in ’05 and then it really took off in ‘07. A lot of my work was placed by fabulous stylists. They have celebrity clients and need to style for a magazine cover, so they’d call me for pieces. When the piece got used on the client, not only did I get client credit, but magazine credit. It was literally a marriage made in heaven. It totally came out of the blue.
MN: Why did you choose Save Darfur as the charity to donate proceeds from beanpYe?
ST: I’m also a schoolteacher and the first year I started teaching, a lot of the kids had no idea that Africa was a continent; they thought it was a country. [Laugh] Don’t even get me started on all these stories that keep me on my toes! We talked about genocide and the Sudan and we even had a project on the subject. I’ve always just been fascinated with issues that affect people that look like me. I just really wanted to give to a reputable organization that helps Darfur.
MN: When did the teaching bug get to you?
ST: I’ve always loved working with kids; I’ve worked with kids from high school all the way up to now. I saw myself in the classroom when I was older—like 50, 60. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would just…Oops…I’m done with TV, let’s start teaching. I could bet my 401k on that.
TV was great and unpredictable, but I went from working talk shows to hardcore news for “Court TV.” And everyday for four years, I would cover molestation, rapes, homicide, rapes, homicide, and molestation—whatever order you want! I became very desensitized to violence.
After I would leave the office, it would translate to the rest of my life. I really felt like I wasn’t helping anyone. I was exploiting people for ratings.
So I went into teaching. I was in school and taught at the same time, which is difficult especially when trying to run a business. My kids are amazing. And I found out that there isn’t too much of a difference between working with kids and TV. They come from homes which they’ve been molested. Or where maybe they’ve witnessed a murder. Everything that I saw on TV, I saw the real deal working with these kids literally working in Brooklyn. So maybe instead of them going to an abusive mom, they go to an internship. You really see the fruits of your labor. You’re the teacher. You’re the doctor. You’re the parent. You’re everything with kids.