A Love for Creating Jewelry Becomes a Life’s Passion
Jenny Forks – J. Forks Designs
” A Country Girl’s Hobby Becomes a Thriving Business”
By Meredith Kay
Photography by David Teran
Growing up in Beeville, Jenny Forks was your typical Texas tomboy. She grew up on a ranch, barrel racing in the rodeo and throwing runners out at second base as an all-star softball player. She had planned to continue her softball career in college when life took an unexpected turn, as it often does, and she became a mother at the age of 18.
She had begun making jewelry as a teenager, inspired by the stones, arrowheads, and other natural materials she would find on her family’s ranch. She found some success selling her designs in local boutiques and restaurant kiosks in Beeville, eventually expanding north into boutiques in Floresville and Pleasanton, before making the decision to move to Boerne and focus on her jewelry business full-time in 2002.
When asked what continues to inspire her designs, Jenny states, “I grew up collecting interesting stones, and the colors and textures fascinated me. I can see a stone and the colors and patterns just come into focus to direct my designs. I love turquoise and the colors of the Southwest, and I wanted to create an elegant line of jewelry that showcases these natural materials.”
Jenny opened her first jewelry store in Boerne in 2003, creating unique pieces for her boutique while also designing custom orders for local residents. She then moved her store to The Rim Shopping Center, on I-10 near Loop 1604, in 2007, where she spent five years honing her craft and holding jewelry-making classes, which became very popular for “Girls Night Out.” However, the developer for The Rim filed for bankruptcy, and construction on the shopping center was at a standstill for many years, so Jenny decided to close the shop and create her designs at home. She even designed for Saks Fifth Avenue for a while, but the luxury retailer undercut her profit margin so much that it stopped being lucrative for her, and she decided to continue designing for boutiques and stores like Cavender’s.
In 2010, Jenny met a lady named Kim, who designed belts and leather goods, at the Dallas Market Center, a wholesale trade center for buyers of clothing, jewelry and accessories, and home goods. They became friends, and Jenny offered to help her out at the National Finals Rodeo marketplace in Las Vegas in 2011. It was here that she met Kim’s son, Cody Ackel, who was a leather artisan himself. The pair began to work on jewelry and accessory designs together, marrying her silversmithing and stone setting talents with his leather tooling expertise. They eventually fell in love and got married, and together they have grown J. Forks Designs into the sought-after jewelry line and clothing boutique that it is today. Jenny’s jewelry is in over 500 stores across the U.S. and in six countries. She continues to take a few custom orders, but her focus is on sourcing quality materials for her unique designs and bringing stylish and affordable clothing to customers at her boutique, J. Forks Designs, which sits just across the river on Main Street in Boerne.
Jenny’s daughter, Hallie (22), is the graphic designer for J. Forks Designs, and she creates and screen prints all of the custom t-shirts that have become very popular at the boutique. In fact, it was Hallie who convinced her mom to add clothing, including plus sizes, to the business, and she continues to inspire the brand with her keen eye for fashion and what J. Forks customers are looking for.
Jenny says, “I wanted to bring an affordable clothing and jewelry boutique to Boerne. I never want anyone to feel excluded by size or price, and I wanted to make women from every socioeconomic level feel beautiful and have access to great fashion. My store is my platform, and I want to make a genuine connection with my customers.”
An honest and direct woman, Jenny speaks about how important it was to keep her staff paid when the pandemic shut down construction of her new boutique. She will tell you proudly that, “God told me to take care of my people, so we moved production to my apartment, focusing on our online store, and planning for the eventual grand opening of the boutique in November of 2020.”
Jenny also has a son, Tristan (17), who attends Boerne-Champion High School, and was recently accepted into the prestigious NASA Texas High School Aerospace Scholars program. She feels blessed to be where she is today and that God has allowed her to make a living doing something she loves. She has recently taken her devotion in another direction, creating a concept called The Lighthouse (thelighthousetx.com). It is an online boutique of Christian gifts, with a physical space within the J. Forks boutique. With The Lighthouse, Jenny strives to create a “space” of comfort and encouragement for anyone who may be struggling or looking for guidance and connection. She has big plans to grow this concept and to release a book telling her own story sometime next year.