It all began with the grass dance.
Desirae Yazzie said she began making beaded earrings after she watched a friend help her son, Cree, 2, prepare for the men’s traditional dance.
“My son is a grass dancer that dances in the powwow,” she said. “I didn’t make his beadwork, but my friend did, and he inspired me to make the beading and make earrings.”
Yazzie, who lives in Durango, said she started making the beaded earrings about a year ago. Initially, she was just making them for herself and family members. But word soon got out through social media, and now she’s sending orders to customers as far away as Hawaii and Canada.
“At first, I just wanted to make them for my family, for my sisters, my mom and myself,” she said. “And then I just got overwhelmed, I was making them like crazy. And my mom said, ‘You should just try to sell them.’ So I posted a couple of pairs and they sold really fast.”
A self-taught beader, Yazzie said she got her start by watching YouTube tutorials. Her process depends on the size of the earrings she’s making and what a particular customer is looking for: She has made pairs with mirrors in the center surrounded by intricate beading and those without mirrors showcasing her beadwork.
Her work can be time-consuming – Yazzie said small earrings can take about three hours to make, while larger ones can take as long as five hours. Because she makes the earrings on the side, she said she works on them after work and on her days off.
And for Yazzie, not only is making earrings a fun – and lucrative – side hustle, she’s also building skills she’ll ultimately use to help Cree.
“I do want to make my son’s beadwork now,” she said. “As he grows older, his outfits are going to get bigger, and I want to start beading for his outfits.”