Erin and Ryan Edwards, of Tulsa, watched Monday's tornadoes tear through the state in shock as did most Oklahomans.
“I wish there was something we could do to help,” Erin Edwards said to her husband that evening.
There was something the couple could do, and Wednesday, they handed over a check for more than $111,000 to the American Red Cross.
The two own The Vintage Pearl shops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, where they sell custom hand-stamped jewelry. Erin Edwards started the business as a way to be able to stay at home with her four children while still adding to the family's income.
The morning after the tornadoes, the Edwardses had an idea to create a necklace to sell to raise money. Within about an hour, the pair had designed, photographed and posted online their “Love for Oklahoma” necklace.
The silver necklace features a bronze pendant in the shape of Oklahoma, inset with a sterling silver heart.
“Each one is handmade,” Ryan Edwards said. “It's a little bit labor-intensive.”
But the couple was willing to donate the time it took to make the necklaces, assuming they'd sell a couple hundred. The Edwardses were stunned when, within an hour, 50 necklaces had sold.
“Then 100 sold, then 1,000, then 2,000.” Ryan Edwards said. “It just blew real fast and out of control. We just really weren't prepared for something that big.”
Within 24 hours, 2,500 of the necklaces had sold at $48 each.
“We had orders from Alaska, Hawaii — I think we had orders from every state across the country,” he said. “It's pretty amazing that the American people reached out like they did and helped out. It's pretty amazing.”
Wednesday, the couple proudly presented the Red Cross the check.
“We just wanted to help out,” Ryan Edwards said. “It's been a real blessing, and it's worked out well.”
The Edwardses started their jewelry company with only themselves as employees. Today, they have 60 employees, and in Oklahoma fashion, Ryan Edwards said many have approached him privately, asking to donate their time fulfilling orders for the “Love for Oklahoma” necklace.