CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Carmen Holmes fell in love with the Kirk's Folly line of mystical jewerly. So much so that she decided to sell the whimsical pieces.
"One day I just decided to be a retailer, and the rest is history," said Holmes, who runs Carmen's Place in Thomas.
Kirk's Folly dates to 1979, when sisters Helen and Jenniefer Kirk began trying to market the artistic Helen's handmade hair ornaments at New York retailers. Soon, they had more orders than they could handle themselves, so they brought in their brother George and sister Elizabeth to help manage things.
In 1992, they decided to branch out into a line of mystical, whimsical jewelry on the cable station QVC. They sold out in 40 minutes.
"The collection covers a wide spectrum of themes -- from fantasy to romance to storybook legends," says the company's website. "At the sight of these whimsical pieces, eyes light up and minds drift away to a world where fairies reign, mermaids splash and glowing stars grant wishes."
Over the years, the Kirks have developed an entire mythos surrounding the jewelry line. During appearances on QVC and at special events, Jenniefer -- lavishly dressed and ornately bejewelled as The Fairy Godmother -- presides over a fantasy world and holds court with her magic wand filled with Follydust. Behind the product line is a belief that dreams really can come true.
Open since May 2012, Carmen's Place has had great success with the Kirk's Folly line, Holmes said. She has on hand about 450 pieces at her Thomas store, including rare and limited edition pieces.
"Because Thomas tends to be artsy, a lot of people come in and ask if we make the jewelry," Holmes said. She tells them she doesn't, but the pieces are handmade.
Carmen's Place is one of only 15 premium Kirk's Folly retailers in the country, and one of two stores in West Virginia. The other is in Princeton.
Holmes said the appeal of the jewelry is more than its design. "It's not junk," she said. "You don't stay in business 34 years by putting out an inferior product."
Holmes said many of her customers are tourists. But, once bitten, those who buy the jewelry are often hooked. Holmes recently opened the store specially for a customer from North Carolina who bought something over the summer, and came back again to buy a piece she remembered from her first visit.
She also recently got an email from a man from Australia, who had visited the shop with his wife and bought some jewelry. She said the man asked if she could pick out something for his wife's birthday and send it overseas.
"She was absolutely thrilled to pieces with it," Holmes said.
Holmes said fans can visit Carmen's Place at Carmensplace on Facebook. Those interested in the Kirk's Folly product line can phone the shop at 304-463-4018 or Holmes' cellphone at 304-614-2833.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.