My Biz: Iowa City store owner marching to her own bead

Beadology Iowa hosts introductory classes twice a week

George Ford
Published: January 2 2014 | 8:43 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:32 am in
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Karen Kubby feels the start of a new year is a great time to check out her Iowa City shop, Beadology Iowa.

“People are wanting to live out their new year's resolutions for learning something new, being more social, and learning to make something,” Kubby said. “We have lots of introductory classes in January.”

Classes are hosted at least twice a week at Beadology, 220 E. Washington St., with instruction in everything from intro to stringing to chain mail — an ancient art. Classes also are offered through Kirkwood Community College’s continuing education program.

“We love to broaden our audience,” Kubby said. “And it’s satisfying to help others build their skills and find their creative voice.”


Business: Beadology Iowa

Owner: Karen Kubby

Address: 220 E. Washington St., Iowa City

Phone: (319) 338-1566


Beadology’s regularly scheduled “Open Lab”  from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays is another learning and socializing opportunity.

“Our customers bring their own materials and snacks and we offer some technical and design assistance for free,” Kubby said.

Shoppers looking to escape the cold will find plenty of warmth, welcome and color inside Iowa City’s bead haven. Beyond the  classes, the shop offers finished jewelry pieces, as well as beads and supplies to create your own jewelry.

“It is meant to inspire those who create their own jewelry,” said Kubby.

There are some 10,000 products in the store, from beads — including stone, pearl, metal, organic, glass, crystal, and one-of-a-kind flamework — and stringing material to the tools needed for jewelry making.

Kubby also emphasized that Beadology has a goal of creating a respectful, supportive, and non-judgmental atmosphere in which jewelry designers — from beginners to professionals — can thrive.

Beadology Iowa opened in 1987 as Dawn’s Hide and Bead Away. Kubby and her sister, Laurel Kubby, who lives and works in Phoenix, bought the business in 2008.

“It was probably the worst time in the last 50 years to get into retail,” Kubby recalled.

Kubby and her sister were able to help the business flourish.

“We took a business that needed assistance and we are happy to have one nostril above water,” Kubby said.

Kubby, a graduate of the University of Iowa, is a potter and bead maker. She also is involved in the community beyond being a business owner.

Kubby has served three terms on Iowa City City Council, is past president of the Iowa City Downtown District, and is a community volunteer and activist, especially related to women-centered services.

Her community involvement has driven Kubby to make Beadology a community center of sorts.

“It’s a place of respite during the day,” she said. “Come in and listen to our music, see lots of color and be greeted by a warm welcome. We serve various functions in the community.”

Kubby said one of her favorite parts of her job is doing custom and repair work on jewelry.

“Sometimes we have the perfect color and size match and it’s exciting,” Kubby said. “When we can either customer make or repair something that has great meaning to someone it is really rewarding.”

Kubby loves that Beadology is just one of many artistic businesses in the area.

“We share space with the Paper Nest and Chait Gallery is right next door,” she said. “There are a lot of artistic businesses on this block and we are happy to be part of the art economy in Iowa City.”

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