Bead Weavers: Valerie Hector

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Valerie Hector

Valerie Hector Designs Ltd., Chicago

Valerie Hector of Valerie Hector Designs Ltd. in Chicago was introduced to beading the way many of us were—as a child threading colorful Playskool wooden beads onto a string. Unlike many of us, however, Hector admits, “I carried my beads with me wherever I went. My obsession grew to the point where my mother became concerned. Was something wrong with her daughter? Should she call a psychiatrist?”

As she grew up, Hector left her bead working behind…or so she thought. She studied anthropology at the University of Chicago with the goal of becoming an academic. But she eventually left the Ph.D. program when a summer of field work showed her it wasn’t going to be a good fit for her. A friend suggested she apply for work with a local jeweler. There Hector rediscovered her love of beading. She opened her own studio in 1988.