Home Sweet Home: Pearl Essence Studio by Vicki
Vicki Renner, a former registered nurse at Belleville Memorial Hospital, now runs a new signature business called Pearl Essence Studio on Staunton’s West Main Street. Enquirer Democrat Photo by Jackson Wilson.
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
Vicki Renner had spent most of her life working as a registered nurse, but she recently discovered that she had a new purpose to serve.
On June 4, Renner opened a new store at 301 West Main in Staunton called the Pearl Essence Studio – a jewelry shop that houses three other local businesses within its walls.
“The story of how this came about is just a normal progression,” said Renner. “Professionally, I was working at the Memorial Hospital in Belleville. After two battles with cancer, I found that it left me with neuropathy of the hands and feet. I was having trouble threading an IV and started looking for something that would keep the dexterity I had left in my fingers intact. So, I thought to myself – pearls and crystals – surely I could put together beads on a string! So, this inspired me to start Pearl Essence by Vicki. I decided to retire and leave my faithful profession to bring my jewelry addiction back home to Staunton.”
Renner works alongside Jeanine Fassero (Nature’s Bliss), Keely Rucker (K’s Events and Creations), Sandy Young, Polly Gai (Youniquely Yours Again), Karen King and Katie King (Just Ask Brian).
“When I came here, this building was too big for just me,” said Renner. “So, I’ve created a group of very talented ladies.”
Nature’s Bliss uses natural ingredients to make bath bombs, shower melts, skin care products, goat’s milk soaps, anti-itch cream and hemp products that have been referred to as ‘fantastic’ by multiple customers.
K’s Events and Creations monograms any design a person could want. Examples include mugs, glasses, pillows, towels, baby items and T-shirts. Rucker also plans, organizes and provides rental of all items needed for parties or other events.
Young and Gai are two talented and experienced sisters that run Youniquely Yours Again. Young specializes in furniture and strives to re-furnish and bring new life to any piece at a really low price. She also collaborates with Gai to bring new styles to walls. Young does decor and Gai offers light switch cover designs with endless possibilities.
The Kings of Just Ask Brian provide paintings and photography. They also have added goose clothes, fairy gardens and other decorating items to their shelves.
Renner specializes in quality Swarovski pearls and crystals priced at small town costs. She also encourages custom orders and is an expert in minor jewelry repair.
The majority of Renner’s products are handmade. Anyone who buys one of her signature pieces will be given a lifetime guarantee. All sales taxes are paid for and a customer will be rewarded $15 in free merchandise after five purchases. All prices are negotiable.
“I also have a section in the lobby where people can rent pieces of jewelry for special occasions,” said Renner. “This would be used by girls who are going to prom or a dance, plus an adult that is scheduled to attend a wedding or something special like that. If someone doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on fabulous jewelry, they can just come here. It’s $25 with a four-day rental. If you bring it back 100 percent intact, I actually will give you $5 back.”
Free gift wrapping is available for any item purchased in-store. Anyone wishing to have non-business product wrapped can also have it done for $2 to $5.
Renner has also been striving to give back to the community. She has declared every Saturday as ‘Food Can Saturday’ at the studio. Anyone who donates at least four cans of food will get 20 percent off on any of their purchases. This food will be given to the Staunton Helping Hands Center. Renner additionally hosts a ‘Charity Day’ once a month. All sales made on that particular date will be put towards charitable payments. Pearl Essence has already donated checks to Siteman Cancer Center, Benld Adopt-A-Pet, Child’s Cafe and the Ride for the Relay-American Cancer Society.
In addition to returning to her hometown, Renner has purchased the building that previously was known as the City Bakery. Against all odds, that was where she got her first job.
“I started my career out here,” Renner said. “This is where it all began and it’s also where I’m going to end it. People often question why I’m so attached to this place and I say that this was where I started back when I was 16 years old. That’s pretty cool.”
Making money is a common goal for a business owner, but Renner’s ultimate desire is to play a part in restoring the active working metropolis that Staunton was once known for.
“In my day when I was a kid, this was the most fantastic town,” reflected Renner. “There was not an open space. Every building was filled with something. We had two dress shops, two shoe stores, a Ben Franklin, a Fashion Lane, a movie theater and even a roller rink. I was blessed to live here growing up. We didn’t lock our doors. Everyone watched everybody else’s kids. Now, times have changed. Unfortunately, I don’t think they changed for the best, but I would love to see this town grow and prosper like it used to be.”