Sea glass can easily be considered the treasure of Rhode Island beaches. What was once regular glass that has been eroded and weathered by the ocean, the frosted-looking find comes in various pastel shades, hidden among shells, rocks, and sand. It takes concentration and a keen eye to spot the fragments, but the focus can be rewarding. For Victoria Woolard, this process is more than just a fun beach activity; it’s the foundation of her pandemic-born business.
Woolard is founder and owner of Still Waters USA: a new small business that makes intricate jewelry and decor with local, hand-picked sea glass. It’s a one-woman show, with Woolard doing every part of material collection, design, production, and distribution on her own. “My goal is for the pieces to not just be intricate and beautiful for people, but also to share the beauty and peace of being by the water and in the environment,” Woolard says, and the effort behind her products is a testament to this desire.
While other companies will always outsource or get man-made sea glass, Woolard personally picks nearly all her pieces from RI and CT beaches. “I pride myself on it being real, authentic sea glass,” she states, and makes her business even more unique by customizing pieces by request. “Someone will reach out to me and ask if I can make a specific or new product, and I’ll make it,” she says, adding, “we will incorporate people’s own sea glass if they request it and turn it into a memorable piece.” Woolard will even source sea glass from either state if customers have a preference, and when it comes to gift-giving, she offers a “message in a bottle” that can accompany the piece. She also places care instructions that describe how to clean and care for jewelry in every package, ensuring that pieces last.
It may be surprising that this intricate and thorough process was completely self-taught. When the pandemic hit, Woolard was a healthcare worker with a new preemie at home, and she and her husband turned to the beach as a safe escape with their newborn. “I was finding tons of sea glass at the time. I just had so much sea glass that I was accumulating and didn’t really know what to do with it, and my husband was like, why don’t you see about crafting jewelry? Everything was self-taught, so I went online, started learning, and started to teach myself how to do it.” Psalm 23:2-3 inspired the Still Waters USA name, and the business was established.
With products coming directly from the environment, maintaining sustainable practices is important to Woolard. Glass collection plays a role in beach cleanup, and she makes sure her packaging is recyclable and easily reusable. Her environmentally friendly products can easily be purchased on her Etsy site, by messaging Still Waters USA on Facebook or Instagram (@stillwatersusa), or by emailing her at email@example.com. Woolard can also be found at outdoor markets in the warmer months, with locations advertised on Facebook and Instagram.