For Rachel Johnson, home is where the beach is.
It’s a major reason the Mattituck native has never left Long Island: No matter where you head, the water is always nearby.
Now, the 35-year-old mother of three has parlayed that love into her business, North Fork Sea and Sky, by making jewelry using sea glass she finds at local beaches.
“[Sea glass is] something that’s jaded and garbage, but turns into something that’s really pretty and awesome,” she said during a recent interview at her Aquebogue home.
Johnson sells her jewelry on Etsy and at local arts and crafts fairs. On Saturday, Dec. 10, she’ll have her own stand at the Pottery Barn outlet in Riverhead as part of a pop-up fair for local artisans.
As a child, Johnson loved spending her days searching for sea glass. And if she wasn’t at the beach, she was spending hours making jewelry out of strings and beads for friends.
“It was my outlet,” she said.
Johnson continued to indulge her hobby as a Hofstra University student, working for a jewelry designer who designed pieces for Nordstrom. Although she was studying to be a history teacher, she enjoyed making jewelry on the side.
After finishing graduate school, Johnson worked at Greenport schools as an alternative education teacher and later in real estate. Eventually, she decided she wanted to spend more time at home with her children and assisting her husband, Luke, with his business, Asphalt Maintenance Corp.
Around five years ago, Ms. Johnson got the itch to start making jewelry again after her grandmother gave her a variety of old medallions and rosary beads. She redesigned them into more modern pieces she could wear.
This prompted her to do something with the sea glass collection she had started during trips to the beach with her family. Around a year ago, North Fork Sea and Sky was founded.
Johnson’s pieces include beaded bracelets with compass pendants and sea-glass necklaces on dainty chains that come in a variety of blue and green hues. One of her most popular items, offered as a bracelet or necklace, is a piece of sea glass with a heart drilled into it.
The heart design came about by accident, she said, but is now used in many of her pieces — particularly her half-heart friendship jewelry.
One challenge to working with sea glass, Johnson said, is not being able to mass-produce items since each piece is different.
“Any piece you get from me is truly one of a kind,” she said.
Although she’d like to sell her jewelry at stores in the area, Johnson is happy with her current arrangement creating jewelry from her home office.
Her husband said he likes how the business has given his wife something to focus on in addition to their kids.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said. “It brings in a little bit of money and she’s home for the kids, so I think it’s a great idea.”
One of the best parts of the venture, Johnson said, is when a customer brings her a piece of sea glass they found and asks her to make something from it for them.
It’s like wearing a memory, she said.
“To wear something that’s special from home, that reminds you of your baby or anything, that just means a lot to me,” she said. “I’m happy that I can do that for other people.”