“Best friends.” “Smile.” “Be happy.”
These uplifting sayings are found on Michaela Rodriguez and Everleigh McQuade’s favorite bracelets — ones with lots of colorful and circular letter beads on them.
The Farmingdale duo make the bracelets themselves and own close to a dozen each that they mix-and-match. Once a trend in the '80s and '90s, making, trading, selling and collecting beaded message bracelets has made a huge comeback in the past year, focused on spreading words of positivity and friendship.
“I get to customize and choose the colors of the beads and what they say,” Everleigh, 10, says, noting that she has one bracelet with beads that spell out her name.
“I have one that just has pink beads on it and it says, ‘smile,’ and I really like it,” Michaela, 9, adds.
With today’s beaded friendship bracelets, customization is everything. Crafting studios on Long Island have hopped on the craze and begun offering classes where kids and adults alike can make their own, including at Rebecca Dolber R.E.D., a beaded jewelry making studio in Center Moriches, which offers the private workshops on an appointment basis.
“I’m a child of the '80s, and I love friendship bracelets,” says Rebecca Dolber, owner of R.E.D. “When I was a kid, I would make them and sell them at the end of the driveway. I thought, ‘Oh, how fun, I could teach kids and adults to make these again.’ It was this fun meeting of the worlds — my current business and the old-school style bracelets.”
The craze of beaded friendship bracelets has seen a resurgence in the past year since the launch of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, where fans bring arms full of bracelets to trade at each concert.
When I was a kid, I would make them and sell them at the end of the driveway. I thought, ‘Oh, how fun, I could teach kids and adults to make these again.’
- Rebecca Dolber, owner of R.E.D. in Center Moriches
It all started when one of Swift’s songs, “You’re On Your Own Kid,” mentioned making friendship bracelets in the lyrics. Her fans, who call themselves Swifties, now make the bracelets with colors that correspond to each of her albums and words from her songs. Even Swift’s boyfriend Travis Kelce made her one and tried to give it to her at a concert before they met, he said on an episode of the "New Heights" podcast. He failed, but it led to them connecting and eventually getting together.
“The colors are really fun,” says Sabrina Martelli, 14, of Garden City South. “I like that a lot of them are things she said in her songs and in videos,” she explains of the sayings on her bracelets.
Sabrina has about 15 friendship bracelets that she’s made, most of them with Swift’s album and song names on them. In early February, Sabrina attended a Swift-themed friendship bracelet making class at Let’s Craft in Westbury with a group of girls.
Aria Plaza, 11, of Westbury, and Dana Mastromauro, 12, of Carle Place, also attended the workshop. Aria made a bracelet for Dana, and Dana made a necklace for Aria. Dana says she received a bracelet-making kit for Christmas and makes them often.
“They’re fun to make,” she says. “I put them in my birthday goody bags.”
Karrie Anne Vitti, owner of Let’s Craft located in the Samanea Mall, says that when kids come in to make the bracelets, the vibe is different from with other crafts.
“When the girls are making these bracelets, they’re just chitchatting. They’re in their own little world,” she says. “They’re relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.”
Since Let’s Craft opened in September, friendship bracelet making has been one of the top-requested classes, and Vitti has purchased different kits to keep up with the demand. She also has booked Taylor Swift impersonator Elizabeth Edquist, of Glenwood Landing, for several classes to keep with the Swiftie theme.
“Friendship bracelet making is an age-old thing,” Vitti says. “We did it as kids, my mom did it as a kid and it’s a cycle.”
The friendship bracelets are a hit not only to make, but to buy and sell as well. One of the popular sellers of this style bracelet is Little Words Project, which is opening a store in Roosevelt Field mall in Uniondale this spring.
“It’s been amazing to see the category of friendship bracelets experience such a major lift over the past few years,” says Little Words Project CEO Adriana Carrig in an emailed statement. “When I first started the brand in 2013, we did not see nearly as much interest in these kinds of beaded word bracelets as we do now.”
Carrig adds that Swifties and Little Words Project “promote kindness” with their bracelets. Little Words Project fans call themselves “Nice Nation,” and for Swifties, the bracelets often have messages of self-love, compassion and camaraderie around a common interest.
Marissa Gologorsky, 28, of Islip, has a beaded bracelet business called Out of This World Jewelry by Marissa. She says she started making bracelets at 5 years old and began selling them about two years ago. She makes ones that read “Laugh,” “Joy” and “Believe” on them, and friendship bracelets have now become a big seller for her.
“When I sell my bracelets on Fire Island, there are a lot of people that like to find matching ones,” she says.
Rachel Roth, 23, of Bellmore, also has her own small business, Just Bead It by Rachel, selling handmade bracelets. The message bracelets helped her make a name for herself in the bracelet market. They’re now her top sellers; she gets anywhere from 15 to 100 sales a week and has had to enlist others to help make them. When purchasing the bracelets on her website, customers can choose colors and messages.
“It’s fun and it brings people back to when they were younger,” she says. “It’s a nostalgia thing”
MAKE YOUR OWN
WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m. Feb. 19, Let’s Craft inside the Samanea Mall, 1500 Old Country Rd. Suite 256 Floor 2, Westbury. Friendship bracelet making class with Taylor Swift impersonator Elizabeth Edquist; also includes doughnut making, where crafters will decorate doughnuts to look like friendship bracelet beads.
MORE INFO letscraft.org