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Our Story

Richard Swanborg and Rebecca Combs dancing and smiling at a book launch party.

Chapter One

In 2008, Richard and I, just two naïve kids, rented a store front, put some beads in it, and slapped our name on the door. Ta-da! Now we have bead store!

If you only know modern day Design & Adorn, you wouldn’t recognize us back then. We were mostly a bead stringing shop. The walls were lined with stone beads. Richard and I hadn’t really done much beading at all before opening the shop and you could tell looking at our selection. We forgot to order in beading wire, crimp beads or tools for our grand opening! Thank you to everyone who was there and didn’t laugh.

Within a few months we found our groove and started teaching stringing, knotting, and stitching classes. At first we just taught the projects that my mom shared with us from her shop, but then we started designing on our own. It was around this time that fate tapped on my shoulder and handed me a kumihimo disk. We found more and more students and customers, and with our diminishing ineptitude, it seemed that maybe this whole bead store idea wasn’t so foolish after all.

You know what’s better than one bead store? Two bead stores!

Yes, indeed folks, eighteen months after opening, my genius plan was to open a second location.

Chapter Two

Luckily for us, fate intervened, and we only had to deal with two stores for a few short months.

We started fresh in 2010 in our tiny Grant Road location as a bead stitching, kumihimo, and chain maille store.

I ran the shop alone during the week while Richard was at work and then the two of us took turns teaching classes on the weekends. We wrote new patterns at home in the evenings.

Chapter Three

I wrote Kumihimo Basics & Beyond on my dining room table on weekdays and I taught classes on the weekends. Thank you for being my guinea pigs as I worked out new techniques for the book!

The book changed everything. I taught at the Bead & Button Show for the first time that year. We made the leap into the world of e-commerce and set up our first rudimentary web store.

The book launched in the fall of 2013 to more fanfare and well wishes than I ever thought possible and you were there with hugs, and cards, and balloons, and flowers. You lined up to buy the book I wrote and to have me sign it. My team was there. We danced. We danced right into the next year and the one after that.

We started exhibiting at the Tucson gem show. I went on tour and taught at bead stores around the country. I asked Alex to take a leap of faith and to come work with me full-time as my assistant store manager. She said yes. We put funny things on our heads and kept right on dancing.

Kumihimo Jewelry Simplified launched the winter of 2016 to even more fanfare and excitement than the first book. Once again you were there with hugs, and cards, and balloons, and flowers. Everyone was laughing and smiling and toasting. There was so much joy packed into our 680 square feet. And so we just kept dancing.

Chapter Four

The business grew, and grew, and grew! You were there with us at classes here and around the country, you were with us at my kumihimo design retreats, you were with us at the bead shows, you were with us in our online store, and you were with us in our little Grant Road bead store.

Twelve years of our beading adventure had given me lots of different hats to wear: brick & mortar retailer, online retailer, author, designer, teacher, kit maker, event planner.

With so many hats on my head, I was having trouble dancing.

I needed to focus on what I truly love and what am I best at.

Chapter Five

In March of 2020 we closed the brick & mortar bead store to become an online-only DIY jewelry kit retailer.  We started debuting new kits at our weekly Facebook Live Shopping Parties and selling kits from our back catalog here on our website.   

Thanks to your support, we transitioned smoothly to our new business and are thriving.  With just one hat each, we have the music turned up and we just dance, dance, dance! 

The story of Design & Adorn is ongoing and we’re creating it together.