By Laura Ross
Photos by Christian Watson
When tinkering turns terrific, magic happens – and a business is born.
That’s the lesson Lori Unruh discovered when she took her hobby and turned it into Cadella’s, a thriving jewelry design business.
“I started tinkering around making handmade jewelry gifts for friends and family, and once I saw the joy the jewelry brought them, I realized I needed to take this hobby to a larger scale,” said Unruh, a Southern Indiana native and mom of two wildly talented kids – Ella, 15, and Cade, 14 – who lives in Floyds Knobs with her husband, Chad, CEO of MAC Construction.
Cadella’s, which is a compilation of the names of Unruh’s teens, offers handcrafted jewelry, including bangles, cuffs and necklaces, with interchangeable photo tiles chosen by customers that often feature families, friends, and furry loved ones. It’s a unique design that Unruh created and, recently, patented, too.
A successful hairdresser for 18 years, Unruh decided to take time off about five years ago and focus solely on raising her children. To keep her creative juices flowing, the avid photographer designed bangle bracelets for fun, using photos of her children and friends placed in tiny frames. She later developed the concept of the interchangeable photo tiles and tried out the designs on her friends and family.
“I would host parties at first where friends would customize their bracelets,” she explained. “As the jewelry got out there, boutiques reached out, but there was just no way to customize the bangles without coming up with a design to make interchangeable photos. I worked for a year on the design with some amazing people, trying out molds until we found the design, which allows people to interchange their blessings and memories into different pieces of jewelry.”
Unruh started with bangles and then added leather and fur cuffs, necklaces and even cuff bands that fit the Apple Watch. The photo tiles, which are designed and personalized online, fit into tiny picture frames crafted onto the jewelry. Once created, boutiques lined up with more than 40 shops in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan selling the Cadella’s line. Unruh and her team also designed an online shop (www. cadellas.com) and sales skyrocketed.
“It makes for such a unique piece of jewelry because you can constantly change the photos to fit your memories,” said Unruh. “If you have a child in sports, you can wear a sports photo. If you’re a grandparent, you can change out different grandchildren, or if you are going out with your girlfriends, you can wear pictures reflecting your friendship.”
Customers select their jewelry, either in boutiques or online, then edit and upload their photos to Cadella’s website. Unruh’s team creates the photo tiles in-house and ships them to customers within three to five business days. “That’s the beauty of this,” she said, “If you have a special event coming up, you can always add new uploaded photos, and we’ll send them to you quickly.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Unruh has shared Cadella’s success with the Southern Indiana community. She launched the Cadella’s Favorite Things fundraiser in November, where she partnered with several local businesses to give away 100 items per business to 100 guests who paid $100 each to attend the fundraiser held at Joe Huber’s Family Farm. “It’s a spin on Oprah’s Favorite Things, where guests take home unique gifts,” said Unruh. “All proceeds went toward Miles for Merry Miracles in support of the Southern Indiana Angel Tree program.”
As 2020 dawns, Unruh is looking forward to a busy year with her jewelry, which she calls “inside-out love lockets.”
“Your blessings are on the outside for all to see,” she said. “Photo albums get stored away, but with Cadella’s, you have a fashionable way to wear the memories. You can take photo memories that otherwise might fade away, wear them as jewelry and be reminded of the blessings every day.”
A FEW OF HER FAVORITE THINGS: Lori Unruh
It’s not raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but Lori Unruh has much to be thankful for this year. She leapt at the chance to share some of her favorite things.
My absolute favorite thing of all: Being a mom and wife, and snuggling with my children, Cade and Ella.
My favorite guilty pleasure: A cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer and a peanut butter bagel dipped in Nutella each morning.
My favorite way to find quiet time: A daily dose of hot yoga.
My favorite reason for laughing: Listening to my two witty teenagers figure out life challenges (I learn from them daily).
My favorite kind of evening: I adore my girlfriends and cherish laughing over dinner with them.
My favorite charitable cause: Of course, it’s my Cadella’s Favorite Things event! It’s an amazing event that spoils everyone who attends with gifts donated by some of the most generous professional and business owners in our community. Most importantly, 100% of the ticket sales go to a chosen charity in our community.
My favorite poem:
Time Tested Beauty Tips
By Sam Levenson
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
CONNECT WITH CADELLA’S
@cadellasjewelry on Instagram
@cadellas on Facebook