Everything in Adrianna Stranak’s life seems to happen a bit haphazardly, she said, laughing.
“When I started making jewelry, creating a business was not my initial goal,” shared Stranak, who teaches kindergarten in Kansas City, Kansas. “For me, I wanted these earrings that I couldn’t afford, so I made them!”
As Stranak continued designing and creating earrings for herself, more and more people showed an interest in her products, she recalled. After six months of learning how to make earrings out of clay and brass, Stranak founded her jewelry brand Who Is She? in March 2020.
The phrase “Who Is She?” is inspired by Stranak’s best friend, she shared.
“I do his drag makeup for shows all the time — once makeup is done and we get ready, the earrings are the final touch,” she said. “With a snap, I always say, ‘Oh my gosh, who is she?’ So when people put on my earrings, I want them to feel that same way.”
Each Who Is She? piece is carefully crafted by hand, Stranak said, adding that she can pull ideas from just about anywhere.
“My personal style is all over the place,” Stranak said. “I love metaphysical-themed pieces — also anything inspired by nature or space.”
Stranak’s jewelry can be found on the Who Is She? Instagram page, as well as during pop-up events and in local businesses throughout the Kansas City area. Individuals can also DM Stranak for inquiries on custom pieces, she noted.
“I really enjoy popping up and working with small business owners. I live right off Independence Square, so that is a place where I’ve been in multiple shops. I love all those business owners,” she shared, noting her partnership with Eclairs De La Lune on the Square.
With Stranak’s jewelry business centered around sustainability, Who Is She? only crafts a limited supply of each design. Any extra clay is turned into clay bracelets, Stranak noted.
“I don’t waste anything,” she said. “I’m really passionate about my bracelets because I take this big collection of extra clay and make it into something fun. I believe I am the only claymaker in the community who makes bracelets.”
An extension of Adrianna
When Stranak isn’t making jewelry, she’s sharing her creativity with her students at Hazel Grove Elementary. Stranak’s path to teaching was also unconventional, she shared.
“When I started [my undergrad], I was leaning toward being a chiropractor or doing something creative,” she recalled. “… I was doing an apprenticeship with a hair salon, and my really good friend at the time came into work and told me she was going to go to school to become a teacher. So I said, ‘OK. Me too.’ So, I stopped what I was doing in undergrad and got my Master’s and Bachelor’s in teaching. I’m lucky that as soon as I was in the classroom, I loved it.”
Growing up, Stranak attended an integrated arts school in Los Angeles before moving to Kansas City for high school. With a diverse background in education, Stranak uses her skills to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience for her kindergarten students, she said.
“I’m really big into multiple intelligence theory, having fun and building connections with the kids,” Stranak shared. “I think I am good at what I do because I have a different perspective.”
Stranak embraces her off-the-beaten-path lifestyle — and all the positives and negatives that come along with it.
“If something doesn’t bring me joy, then I don’t do it,” Stranak said. “It’s a blessing and a curse because I never stress out. I’m always excited about what I’m doing, but at the same time, I am also the person who pushes things off that stress me out.”
Both teaching and jewelry making serve as outlets for Stranak to be unconditionally herself, she shared.
“I get to who I am 100-percent of the time,” Stranak shared. “Especially with my kindergarteners, we get to sing and dance and play my guitar; and they don’t judge you.
“With Who Is She?, I’m finally at a place where I’m making what I like; and I view it as an extension of me,” she continued. “So then when people want your work, it feels really good. It’s validating that someone else is resonating with what is so closely a part of you.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.