You are not alone: Chainyana Jewelry brings the world closer together11/15/2023 09:12AM ● By Caroline Roosevelt
The beautiful irony of COVID-19 was that during all the isolation, humanity found the capacity to connect on a much more meaningful level. We couldn’t meet up at the coffee shop, but we could connect via zoom, via social media, and through the shared vulnerability that occurs with helplessness during a challenging time.
While the helplessness one feels with the diagnosis of a chronic health condition now has become more universal, more understood and even embraced, so many with myriad physical or mental health conditions felt them exacerbated during this time of isolation. Yet, many used that time of isolation to connect with one another and use the collective fear of the unknown, and a diagnosis in order to galvanize a sense of hope.
West Chester-based artist Kate Craven was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in 2022, and in the summer of 2023, she created Chainyana, which is best described as a jewelry map of those working with their own health issues and advocating for a sense of community during what can be a very isolating experience.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Katie and delve into the creation of Chainyana.
Caroline Roosevelt: So what does “Chainyana” mean?
Katie Craven: “Yana” is an acronym for “you are not alone,” which is a common expression used in mental health communities. “Chain” represents a chain of people who are not alone. A lot of times people feel like they’re the only person going through something or feel isolated when they’re going through a struggle. The mission behind Chainyana is that I make bead bracelets in specific colors, each of which represents the struggle that the owner is going through, such as mental health or cancer. The owner selects that color and I create a bracelet that not only contains the colors of their struggle but the geographic coordinates of that person who purchased a bracelet before they did. It allows the owner to “carry” others through their struggle. Then the next person who purchases a bracelet will contain the coordinates of the previous owner.
That’s such a beautiful visual and establishes a connection with the other person. Do people connect beyond the bracelet coordinates? Do they ever say, “I want to reach out to the person supporting me?”
I haven’t had that yet. As the company grows and the chain gets longer that is something I’ve been thinking about. Everyone is connected by zip code. I don’t do physical addresses.
That’s not safe. I get that.
Yes, for safety reasons. But I was thinking at some point having the list by cities on my website, to allow owners to look and see the people who are around them.
Who have you shipped to? Have you received international orders?
I have had someone in Northern Ireland. The shipping there was crazy! But in the U.S., it’s cool because I have a map that I post on my social media and I fill it in with the states we’ve connected with. I have Washington, Oregon, North Dakota and Virginia. The idea came to me as I was going through counseling for OCD. I posted in a couple of the groups I’m in on Facebook and that’s how I got to those other states.
I read on your website that it took almost two decades for you to get diagnosed. I feel like that’s a common case with women and any sort of mental health diagnoses.
OCD is one of the most misunderstood mental health diagnoses. There’s a lot of misinformation and a lot of counselors don’t understand it unless they’re specialized. So, one told me I didn’t have it and then I went to another counselor and they said, “Yes, you do!”
Does Chainyana run entirely out of your house or do you sell anywhere?
Right now, I operate out of my house, but I’ve thought about appearing at craft shows next year. I really created the concept out of people wanting to feel connected, and I want to reach as many people as I can. For now, I have my website, my Facebook and my Instagram pages.
Can we purchase your jewelry on your website?
Yes! I also offer local pick up/drop off.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or physical health issue, consider getting connected through Chainyana. You can purchase pieces at www.chainyanajewelry.com or check out its social media pages - IG: @chainyana. FB: Chainyana Jewelry.