DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., April 13, 2009 – Three-year LPGA Tour member Jeanne Cho-Hunicke started designing and crafting jewelry one year ago as a way to relax away from the golf course. This year, after learning that the Women's Professional Golf Fellowship (WPGF) – which has been a presence on Tour for 30 years – was short on donations, Cho-Hunicke wanted to help.
“I never felt comfortable selling my jewelry,” said Cho-Hunicke, a Christian who has attended the weekly Fellowship meetings on Tour site. “There’s no way I could do it (sell to people I know) because I’m not like that. When I got the e-mail from Wendy (Ward) about Fellowship needing funds, it motivated me.
So, for every piece of jewelry Cho-Hunicke sells this year, 20 percent of the cost will be given directly back to Fellowship.
“I’m comfortable about selling, now, because I know it’s going to a good cause. I value our program – our Fellowship group. I don’t think we can afford to lose it,” she said.
WPGF Executive Director Cris Stevens has been part of the WPGF ministry on the LPGA Tour for more than two decades. She leads the weekly on-site Fellowship at most domestic tournaments and helps facilitate the formation of small groups among interested participants. Cho-Hunicke’s donations – in Stevens’ eyes – are inspiring.
“We are all challenged by the economic downturns today and the decisions we make regarding our personal financial management is significant,” Stevens said. “She (Cho-Hunicke) has stepped out in faith to donate funds from what she sells in her jewelry business. We are so touched by her generosity and kindness to us!”
Cho-Hunicke prides herself on the uniqueness and quality of materials that she creates, which include earrings, necklaces, lanyards, bracelets, cell phone charms and bookmarks. She has also created bridal sets for brides and bridesmaids. Each piece is custom-made to the client’s wishes and, unless specified otherwise, are comprised of pieces of sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, Swarovski pearls, fresh water pearls, semi-precious stones, Czech-glass beads and seed beads. Prices for each piece are set only to cover the cost of materials, which usually range from $20 to $60.
“I would love to give back a lot, but I can’t control that. I don’t mark up the prices at all; my goal is to make money on the golf course,” she said, as she prepares for a trip to Morelia, Mexico next week for the Corona Championship.
Cho-Hunicke first displayed some of her pieces in the locker room at March’s MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta Presented by Nextel for her Tour peers to see. She said the response was incredibly positive. She’s also accommodating to players who may like a design, but want different colors.
“I encourage the girls that, if they are wearing a new outfit or new colors this season, to tell me,” said Cho-Hunicke, a 2003 quantitative sciences graduate from the University of Florida, who competed on the Duramed FUTURES Tour after turning professional. “What I like about each piece is the story behind it. As I am creating it, I am curious to see who would wear it. Someone would never wear a certain piece that might be someone else’s favorite.”
Because this is her first year of traveling with the jewelry, she said she’s also working on the extra organization to bring more materials with her so she can make pieces on the road. In the past, she would bring just enough materials to get her through a plane ride or nights during tournament week. Spending anywhere between 30 minutes up to four hours for each piece, Cho-Hunicke creates each piece with a perfectionist attitude.
“It’s not the making of it that takes so long, it’s figuring out how to design it the way I want. I will start to make one, but then find a spot I could improve and take some of it apart. I don’t like to just put things together and sell – I want it to look good,” she said.
As a little girl, Cho-Hunicke said she enjoyed making things with her hands, like friendship bracelets and doing origami, but never imagined she would be so artistic as an adult until she started planning her wedding in 2006.
“I designed and made my own wedding invitations to save money and it actually ended up being really neat because it was my own creation,” she said. “It was fun to make trips to the craft stores. It’s just such a great hobby. I like that it gets the creative side of my brain working.”
With the success she hopes to have selling the jewelry, she said raising money for Fellowship is the motivating factor. Because of the time demands of being a professional Tour golfer, Cho-Hunicke’s clientele is primarily Tour staff and members, as well as close friends. She plans to have a Web site set up at some point but also says – and Stevens has experienced with Cho-Hunicke and the other Tour members – her golf comes first.
“It is costly to play the tour and there are no financial guarantees,” Stevens said. “Jeanne is personally trusting in God’s faithfulness in her own life and also that she believes in the Tour ministry and wants to see it continue as a presence on the Tour.”
Topics: Style Watch