Janet Morrison Minto, also known as Janet Planet, started her beading business in Los Angeles, CA in 2003 after a successful 20-year career in songwriting. Her unique style is full of exuberant energy, densely placed flowers and leaves, and weaving vines, studded with gems that many have said evoke a somehow more innocent time when everything seemed possible. Each semiprecious gemstone and specialty Czech bead necklace she designs is one-of-a-kind work of art, made with love. Always at heart a writer, her descriptive musings on each necklace, detailing her inspiration for each one and a detailed list of the various elements used have become almost as popular among devotees of her work as the necklaces themselves.
Her inspirations are as wide-ranging as the necklaces, including nature, both wild and in the garden, flowers always, art and paintings, her children’s early years and of course the lore and legend of various healing semiprecious stones. Sometimes a fanciful story or scene will present itself to her and she will attempt to capture it in jewels. She has created pieces after waking from dreams, from cherished memories, reminiscences and moments of destiny.
The question folks often ask Janet is why she turned to beading as her primary occupation. Her answer is a fascinating story in itself and goes like this --
It was in the early '90s that the music business in L.A. really took a sharp left turn in terms of following prevailing trends. More and more, the business became centered around Rap and Grunge Rock. Janet had been successfully writing melodic Rock for many years, but she was seeing any number of L.A. bands and bands nationally lose their record deals as the Garage band, Pacific Northwest Rock style became more and more popular. The bottom line was, what was then termed "Hair band" AOR Rock was OUT, and no one was looking for outside songs anymore - Rap and Grunge music didn't need well-crafted pop songs with great melodic hooks and good lyrics.
Needless to say, these realizations were NOT fun for Janet to have at the time. She had a last series of meetings to keep her music career on track, and it was so shockingly painful to be told rudely, "Sorry, your songs no longer interest us. The business has changed. We don't need songs like yours any more."
She then proceeded to hole herself up in her studio for two more years, writing what she had always wanted to write with her last great songwriting partner before he got an offer to play for a big name group and he grabbed the opportunity. Then she sat and stared for a good long while and finally had to admit she couldn't find a single reason to write one more song.
As Janet explains, this was not a great state to be in. She has a very active and creative mind, and is (self-proclaimed) a bit obsessive and hyper-focused. focused. She knew she had to find something else to do fairly quickly, or she would go crazy and start peeling the wallpaper off the walls and duct taping the doors and windows air-tight. So she thought about it. She thought maybe she would write a novel. She did begin and
enjoyed it a lot, but about 50 pages in, her interest began to wane. It was still writing, which she loved to do, but maybe it wasn't different enough. She felt she needed a decided shift in focus. One day she suddenly realized that she had always loved beads and beaded jewelry. She had collected beads all her life. So she started examining bead necklaces from her own collection, and she quickly realized that several styles of beading looked fairly uncomplicated to do once you mastered a few basic maneuvers. As she carefully studied her own pieces, she began to get excited thinking about her own ideas and preferences and what she could make – and she came to a firm decision that she really wanted to see if it would even be in the realm of possibility for her to do it. She decided that her style concept, her philosophy --would be that her pieces would have to be something that she herself would love and would want to wear. She took a class and learned what she needed to do to get started. She bought some beads online and just dove in.
I should note (albeit belatedly), that Janet was in earlier years the wife of the great singer-songwriter, Van Morrison. (And still & always the mother of their talented daughter and singer-songwriter Shana Morrison.) Janet has among her prized possessions one tiny strand of lovebeads she made for herself back in 1964 that accompanied her through a lot of fascinating life. It reminded her of times with Van and how much she always loved his fans and how grateful she is to them. Once she got a powerful enough computer to be online, she realized that all the Vanfans were online too. She thought maybe it would be nice to reach out to them and see if she could make something beautiful for them to wear, just as a kind of thank-you for making a fond dream of hers come true way back when. She had not previously used the name Janet Planet (that was Van's name for her, not her own) in decades, but she liked the name "Lovebeads By Janet Planet" a lot, and thought it might remind people of a happier time when they were young and had idealism and cherished dreams.
Janet knows quite a bit about gemstones and the lure and lore of stones, and at first she concentrated on using mostly semiprecious gemstones with healing and magnetic properties. She was able to sell her pieces almost immediately - she was really lucky, she realizes. She wanted a job she could do from home and knew right from the beginning she wanted to sell online - she wanted to access customers internationally. She was also committed to creating each necklace as a one-of-a-kind art piece. Now as her 12th year in beading approaches, she has found wonderful sources for beads, she’s perfected her photographs, and she has become more confident in the various jobs involved in making and selling jewelry.
Interestly, she found it was very similar to the songwriting business. Writing the songs is the fun part – it’s all the rest of the jobs involved that comprise the craft and the business of it, and without that, what you're doing is, as Janet says, “just an eccentric little hobby that may perhaps impress your nearest and dearest, although probably not”. She never wrote songs as a hobby and she approached beading in the same way.
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Until Next Time,