By Haley Sawyer
A stream of rhinestones cascade from the neck of a stuffed chicken, while necklace chains of various colors hang on bobbins inside a china cabinet, next to a statue of an octopus tentacle spiraling toward the ceiling.
Tucked away behind the Dinosaur Farm toy store on Mission Street is Kidd’s Jewelry Heist, a room littered with ceramic bowls of colorful glass beads and flooded with a warm glow from golden-hued table lamps and Edison bulb chandeliers.
Even during a pandemic, Kidd’s Jewelry Heist remains a refuge from a world becoming increasingly routine.
“The fantasy certainly is better than the reality of our world,” said owner Kelly Kidd, while seated in a Victorian chair upholstered in paisley maroon and gold. “And so if we can kind of let people escape, just for a few hours, I think that’s really a rare thing.”
Although the jewelry parlor is mainly a venue for parties for both children and adults, Kidd is constantly pivoting and adapting to the ever-evolving challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents while preserving the essence of Kidd’s Jewelry Heist.
Ellen Main, a patron of the parlor for nine years, has brought her son and daughter to Kidd’s Jewelry Heist for countless visits.
“The environment is magical, creative,” said Ellen Main. “Like a set in a movie. And it’s set for performance; that’s what Kelly does.”
Families can continue to come in person, even during the pandemic. Kidd has opened his space for visits by appointment, and has even hosted a party safely outside in the parking lot.
He curates take-home jewelry-making kits tailored to each person’s specific interests. For $35, amateur jewelry designers receive materials for three stretch bracelets. Parents tell Kelly their kids’ favorite colors and interests, and he gathers the beads and charms that fit the description.
At $35, the kits are an activity that won’t break the bank. Although he is a former jewelry designer for celebrities, making jewelry accessible is personal for Kidd. He never says no and is always willing to work with families on pricing when it comes to the kits or booking a party.
“I was the kid who sat in the garage, trying to put something cool together because we didn’t have the money to go and buy robotics or the coolest thing on the market,” he said.
“I grew up in single-parent household,” Kidd continued. “I think there is a perception that we probably are expensive because we’re boutique-y. But we’re hyper aware of that. And we want to make sure that this is an experience designed for any income, really.”
Kidd’s Jewelry Heist is more than jewelry. Main’s children have put their hearts into making gifts for loved ones and they’ve learned that accessories aren’t just for girls. There is no wrong way of doing things at the parlor.
Stefanie Zieger, a preschool teacher and Pasadena resident who has brought her two daughters to Kidd’s Jewelry Heist for years, sees the value in jewelry-making through the lens of an educator.
“Learning to bead something is a pretty important fine motor skill, but you can’t have the tiny beads,” Zieger said. “Kelly knows his audience, so he’s not going to set up something for a very young child that is something they can’t achieve. He wants them to be part of the process.
“It’s not really about the product in the end,” she added. “It’s about the process of making this piece of jewelry, which is so engaging for the children and makes them feel ownership over what they’re doing.”
Kidd is venturing into the virtual frontier, as well. He has created an online shop at kiddsjewelryheist.com, which features bracelets, necklaces and earrings for kids and adults designed by Kidd himself. He plans to create a “Pieces of the Heist” collection, inspired by the decor inside the jewelry parlor.
Specifically for kids, Kidd has developed the “Kelly the Kidd Show,” a YouTube series of roughly five-minute educational videos. He’s even partnered with YouTube star Blippi to host a kid-friendly video at the jewelry parlor. The video has been viewed more than 6 million times.
The authenticity of Kidd’s Jewelry Heist, from the endless beads to the antique armchairs, is difficult to duplicate. It’s what has kept a five-star rating glued to the top of its Yelp page.
Experiencing the character of the set-like rooms or creating jewelry from there while at home transcends the pandemic environment and offers a release.
“If your family is bored to tears and you want to have a magical hour and a half experience, call or text us and we’ll reserve your own private space,” Kidd said. “I cannot imagine being a parent right now with the kids climbing the walls, and you can’t blame anyone.
“I think we’re all trying our best,” he added, “and think, you know, the quicker that we acknowledge that and sort of take the load off our shoulders, the better we’ll be psychologically.”