From the kitchen table to the red carpet

Kelsey Vanderhorst’s jewelry, which is hand made in Abbotsford, has been featured on TV, in magazines and worn by models on the red carpet.

Kelsey Vanderhorst’s jewelry line

Kelsey Vanderhorst’s jewelry line



It takes a certain type of TV show to have Kelsey Vanderhorst on the edge of her couch, clutching the remote control to pause the program at any second.

It’s not a thriller or murder mystery – well, not yet anyway.

Instead, it’s the dating reality show The Bachelorette, which features a woman looking for love amongst a group of 25 men.

The story line isn’t the focus for the 28-year-old Abbotsford resident – it’s the jewelry.

For the past two years, Vanderhorst’s jewelry line KV Bijou has been worn by the leading lady in a string of episodes.

The hand-made collection features a variety of silver necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings designed around vibrant, West Coast inspired gem stones.

Soon the jewelry will also be appearing on actresses Rachel Bilson and Jaime King in the CW drama Hart of Dixie, and will be worn by TV host Jillian Harris on Canada’s Handyman Challenge.

Recently, Vanderhorst received word that two large shows are also considering her pieces. In the meantime, she’s working on creating a custom piece for movie star Jessica Alba.

While Vanderhorst has found success since launching her home-based business three years ago, her experience in the jewelry industry spans back to her childhood.

As a young girl, Vanderhorst would ride her bike to the local bead shop to make bracelets and necklaces for her friends and family – selling each piece for a dollar.

“I used to stay up and look at gemstones until 3 a.m. I was kind of a nerd that way,” she said with laugh.

In high school, she received a scholarship to Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, which she turned down.

Vanderhorst decided to go with her gut rather than her heart, opting to pursue psychology so she could end up with a solid career.

After completing her degree, she landed her dream job of working with youth at risk.

All the while she continued making jewelry on her kitchen table. She and her husband had to eat on the couch.

And while she expected the positive feedback from people close to her, it was the support from those she didn’t know that inspired her to grow her business.

It took a month to build up the courage to quit her job and move forward with KV Bijou.

Soon after the jewelry was worn by a model on the red carpet at New York Fashion Week, KV Bijou was featured in a number of magazines.

It was a key turning point.

Since then, she’s been busy building clientele around the world, shipping items to Finland, Norway, Thailand and Australia. There’s even a bridal boutique in the Maldives – a group of islands off the coast of India – that carries her product.

Even with Hollywood knocking on at her door, one of the coolest moments for Vanderhorst was receiving Abbotsford’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

For Vanderhorst, it was the recognition that someone who follows a dream, no matter how small the operation, can still succeed.

It’s a sentiment that has been echoed by others. Vanderhorst continues to receive letters from strangers and acquaintances, thanking her for the inspiration to start their own businesses.

As KV Bijou grows, so does Vanderhorst’s work space.

She no longer works at the kitchen table, but now has an office and a work room where she still creates each piece by hand – from turquoise necklaces to jasper earrings and candy jade rings.

“Sometimes watching the shows and seeing that (the Bachelorette) is wearing a $90,000 dress and … a little $40 ring is intimidating, but it’s also amazing,” she said. “If they only knew.”

KV Bijou’s new website is launching today at www.kvbijou.com.

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