The Ground Floor: Vintage, classy, New Bohemia

Cedar Rapids shop owner dismantles vintage jewelry, creates new eye-catching piece

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April 1, 2014 | 3:28 am

For her wedding in 2009, Jennifer Thompson wanted some serious jewelry. We’re talking vintage, unique, high quality and, of course, gorgeous.

But her quest for the perfect accessories in Eastern Iowa came up empty.

“I couldn’t find anything around here that I liked,” said Thompson of Cedar Rapids. “But I had an old brooch and a pair of cultured pearls, and I put them together and wore them for the wedding.”

She got rave reviews on the choker she created using the vintage rhinestone brooch. Friends asked where she found the pieces, how she put them together and if she could do the same for them.

She said yes, and before long had amassed a collection of 100 vintage pieces.

“I decided I couldn’t keep everything for myself, so I contacted a person with a studio in the Cherry Building, and she was gracious enough to let me rent part of it,” Thompson said.

Lush Couture opened on April 1. Before that, she had been selling her vintage finds and homemade jewelry online.

“But I had to move out of my home,” she said. “I was creating so many things that I had no more room.”

Thompson still uses her home as a studio, where she tears necklaces apart and reassembles jewelry “that I would be happy and proud to wear.” She also makes “brooch bouquets” — a new wedding trend — garters, hair pins and hair combs.

Lush Couture also sells vintage and new vintage-inspired purses and other rhinestone pieces that she hasn’t altered or created herself.

“I am just trying to provide some beautiful heirloom options for brides and special events,” Thompson said. “It’s a neat little studio and shop. I have a little bit of everything.”

But, Thompson said, her store seemed hidden for the first few months it was open, and she’s getting some traffic.

“No one really knows I’m here,” she said. “I haven’t done a lot of advertising, but I do plan to do quite a bit in January for bridal season.”

And, despite the lack of exposure, Thompson said she enjoys being in the New Bohemia district.

“It’s really creative down here,” she said. “It’s almost like a little SoHo.”

Owner: Jennifer Thompson

Company: Lush Couture

Address: 329 10th Ave. SE, Suite 123, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 431-1381

Website: http://www.lushcouture.etsy.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The shop typically stays open until 6 on Thursdays to coincide with the NewBo Market. 

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