Christopher Vasquez, Owner and Jewelry Designer of kmjDesigns, creates his jewelry with beads from all over the world which include (but not limited to) stone, pearl, metal, glass, organic elements, crystal and flame-work glass beads. To help you get to know him and his business a bit better, we asked him to answer a few questions about his business: how it started, his background related to it, and more. The answers we received were a bit of a surprise.
While often someone else’s story can best told by a storyteller, this time we are going to keep Christopher Vasquez’s story as told directly from his own person.
This is his account of how he lost his purpose and found hope again through his business, kmjDesigns.
I was a Professional Baseball Player for 13 years. After retiring from Professional Baseball I had begun working for an Aviation/Aerospace Company. I was newly married to my wife Angela and very happy, but something was still amiss. I was longing to find that “team” atmosphere that I had been missing since baseball so I decided to join a motorcycle club here in Cedar Rapids, IA.
It had been nearly 5 years since I had left baseball, and I was still lost. I hadn’t fulfilled the need for a higher purpose in my life, and I began to find the answers in all the wrong places. I started to use drugs as a way to either escape or to find myself. It did both, but it almost cost me my life. I so badly wanted to continue living, but just didn’t know how. I had a nervous breakdown and completely shut off.
Finding answers through art & nature
It was then in 2015 that I decided I would start looking for the answers in art. I started painting on trees, rocks, and really anything that I could get my hands on. The art spoke to me. Much of it was about nature and the spiritual side of both darkness and the light of our Human Nature. I faced my worst nightmares head on and started to see the light.
My art was telling me to go find myself in nature, so that is what I did. I left on my 1978 Honda Goldwing and headed for Colorado to where my parents and family lived. I left my big home, my Harley Davidson motorcycle, my creature comforts, and the hardest part of all…my loved ones. Leaving my wife was the hardest thing that I had ever done because she had done nothing wrong. I could tell how much my life was taking a toll on her, and I could not ruin her beautiful heart through my past pains and demons.
The trip to Colorado was the toughest trying trip that I had ever encountered. It was literally a “Do or Die” trip, for I was withdrawing from the drugs that I had been doing. I went ‘cold turkey’. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it alive, but I did.
I got to Colorado and began hiking and “rock-hounding” (searching for cool and unique rocks), and flipping old furniture with my paintings on them. I wanted to show myself that I could survive outside of being a baseball player. I did.
Wearing Mother Nature
Everything had begun to come into focus for me. I found myself trying to collect every stone, gem, and piece of wood that I could find. I wanted to be able to wear the beauty of nature and be able to share my findings with others. Through the beauty of my art, I could share my story and our history as humans with the spirit of our Mother Earth.
I began my journey back home to Iowa. Upon my return, the obstacles of getting back my happiness were still there. I got through them and my wife and I were back to ourselves again. I am very grateful for this the most.
New business venture- kmjDesigns
My wife and I found that a jewelry course online with the New York Institute of Art and Design. We decided it was the best place for me to get started as a jewelry designer. I am now half-way through the program and I look to graduate soon. In the meantime, I am designing and making my jewelry for local shows here in Cedar Rapids, IA, the surrounding farmers’ markets here in Eastern Iowa, and I have even reached as far as Ireland and the U.K. with some of my pieces.
I look forward to the future endeavors that life has in store for me.