About Dandelion Jewelry
It all started in 1966 when Beth Fluke opened a fresh-cut flower shop in Kennebunkport, Maine. She named it The Dandelion. At the time, women were expected to fulfill one of a handful of career paths – if they chose to work at all – teacher, nurse, airhostess, or secretary. Never one to follow the norm, Beth decided she would rather strike out on her own and Dandelion was born.
After learning the business of selling and generating foot traffic on the job in an often-empty store in the sleepy Kennebunkport, Beth decided to make the move from Maine to Philadelphia, from flowers to gifts. In 1969 Dandelion 2 opened at 17th & Locust. It mostly sold products of the hippie persuasion with one case of jewelry, all handmade, of course. However, after her first visit to the American Craft Council (ACC) show in Bennington, VT, Beth realized she had found her home amidst the craft movement. She immediately began expanding her range of products to include more handmade jewelry, pottery, sculpture, and other artifacts.
Beth’s two daughters, Leslie and Lellie, grew up in the store. Taking meetings at home during their naps, Beth gave strict instructions to jewelry purveyors that they must arrive during those sacred hours. Otherwise, she warned, her girls might decide to play dress-up. Looking back on it, Beth muses on what the neighbors must have thought of all these men knocking on her door with suitcases. But she did not manage to stay ahead of the trends by tailoring her actions to what others’ thought was acceptable.
Lellie has many memories of her mother opening a newly arrived box of jewelry with much fanfare and eagerly asking her younger daughter what would be the next trend. After much consideration, Lellie would point, almost always eliciting excitement from Beth, who would exclaim that that was what the salesman had said was up and coming. Jewelry is in her and Leslie’s blood.
As a teenager, Leslie could not stay out of the store. She helped her mother as a wrapper during the holidays, bringing her friends along for the ride. Always artistic, Leslie studied photography at school. After a brief stint working in a flower shop out in Montana, she decided that her true calling was jewelry. Sound familiar? Beth, though excited at the prospect of her daughter joining in her venture, insisted that she gain some on the job experience from a different jewelry store before joining the family business. By this time, Dandelion had dropped the “2” and was firmly ensconced in selling jewelry.
One of the things Beth had always enjoyed about being a self-employed woman as the flexibility it allowed her as a mother. She was always able to support her daughters, whether by cheering on the sidelines of a tennis match or a field hockey game, attending art shows and school plays, or simply by being an accessible mom. A few years ago, when Lellie was considering starting her own family, many of the same concerns led her to decide to give up teaching special ed and join Leslie in running Dandelion. Together the sisters bought the business from Beth in 2011. Now they support each other in this joint venture.
Dandelion’s mission is to support people in every aspect, especially the arts, and to ensure everyone who comes into the store feels special and enjoys the experience. Over the years, Beth, and now Leslie and Lellie, has brought artisanal jewelry from collectives from all over the world to the US market through Dandelion. In this way, they seek to support communities so they can have their own means, in developing countries, and here in the US. All three of these strong women have a respect and awareness for cultures different from their own and travel far and wide to bring a piece of this to their customers through the jewelry they buy and sell. This sense of global family is perhaps represented best in Leslie and Lellie’s teamwork as they now run Dandelion.
Pictured (left to right): Leslie Woodward, Beth Fluke, Lellie Keating, with Lellie's son Karson