Taking a cue from the old adage ‘necessity is the root of all invention,’ Kitt and Jaimie Bowman, Tunkhannock, launched Collana de Vino.
Collana de Vino stems from the Italian language and translates to ‘wineglass necklace’.
Once the Bowmans children moved out of the house, their youngest son, Christopher, sent the couple to the Finger Lakes wine festival to “start over.”
“We had never been a wine festival and the more we bought these things the more upset we got, I wanted one that was easy and didn’t break,” she explained.
A wineglass necklace is a popular accessory at wine festivals and tastings. Guests use the same glass for each wine sample at festivals and having the glass secured on a necklace not only keeps their glass safe from dropping but also frees up their hands.
There are two different parts to the necklace, explained Bowman, the first is the braided or beaded rope that will attach to the wineglass carrier and the second is the decorated carrier itself.
Selecting a wineglass necklace from Collana de Vino is ensuring a one-of-a-kind piece.
“I do pattern cards to ensure a signature item. No two are exactly alike. People want something different,” she said.
They currently have a selection of approximately 450 different designs to choose from.
Each different design is separated into a section to make it easier for the customer to narrow in on what they like. Designs are offered ranging from patriotic to animal prints to breast cancer awareness.
There are also designs for men, including, sports teams, hunting, fishing, and a Harley Davidson line.
A unique feature that she incorporates into Collana de Vino’s necklaces is the length. Most wineglass necklaces are 36 inches long but Bowman makes them around 44-48 inches to allow for a full arms-length reach.
“It really fit the bill and makes it so much easier to use. It also works better for guys,” she explained.
The Bowmans first became a vendor five years ago at the Tunkhannock Rotary festival to find out if the business venture would be worthwhile.
“It took off and now I get calls all the way from Delaware. I hear dozens of times during the year from people that they’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
Even though the wineglass necklaces cater to a small market, people are eager to buy the fun and long lasting necklaces; Bowman claims they are a “necessary accessory” for a wine festival.
On their second trip as vendors to the Tunkhannock Rotary she tried her hand at a beaded necklace using an old necklace that had belonged to her grandmother.
“Everybody came up to me and was like, where did you get that? It’s just been snowballing,” she said.
Her beaded necklaces are made with semi-precious stones, including, Turquiose, Amethyst, and Onyx and normally take around five hours to make. Like the fabric wineglass necklaces, the beaded ones are one-of-a-kind pieces and can be custom made in the customer’s favorite color.
The fabric necklaces are a more popular seller than the beaded and Bowman works to keep her costs reasonable while still providing a quality product.
“I keep the cost as low as I can because I know people can’t afford it. Necklaces are $5, $7, and $10; 80 percent of the tent is $5,” she said.
In spite of the wineglass necklace line being such a small niche, Collona de Vino has plenty of repeat customers and new interested parties.
Bowman works to make a new 13-16 dozen per week and spent last winter prepping approximately five thousand necklaces.
“It really is a cottage industry, most of them are made right here in my living room,” she laughed.
Most of the materials for the necklaces are ordered online since some of what Bowman wants she can’t find in stores.
After all the materials are in place she sets to work coordinating colors and hand-braiding each necklace rope.
Once the rope is finished she will begin on the fabric which normally takes a week to cut into individual pieces.
“The prep work takes longer than the assembly,” she explains, “It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.”
Collana de Vino’s goal is to expand to all four corners of PA. Currently, the Bowman’s have necklaces at a winery near Pittsburgh and Wysox.
“It’s been a ball. Next year I really want to push to get out to Erie,” she said.
They accept orders all year and are hoping to start a website this winter. To order a wineglass necklace people can contact Kitt Bowman via her email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.