By MIKE CHAIKEN
Kate Prior’s and Tony Caramanica’s mutual love for rocks and stones led to a love for each other and, in turn, a new business venture.
Prior and Caramanica are partners in TK’s Earthly Treasures, which sells crystals and rocks and creates a variety of crafts from this raw material.
They will be at this weekend’s Bizarre Bazaar at the New England Carousel Museum.
Prior said she and Caramanica have had an interest in rocks and crystals since they were children.
That shared interest is what sparked a romantic relationship—they will be married in September 2019— between the couple.
“We met at a Renaissance Faire about three-and-a-half years ago,” said Prior. “I was working for a company that sold stones and items made from exotic hardwoods. Tony was a customer. We clicked and had a great time talking throughout the day,” said Prior.
“A few months later we connected on Facebook, met for dinner, and never looked back,” said Prior.
“So much of our relationship involves stones in one way or another— collecting together, gem shows, museums, rock shops, etc. Starting a business venture together only made sense. We are both so enthusiastic about this hobby that we want to share it with everyone,” said Prior, who is from Guilford.
“We have a large personal collection between the two of us,” said Prior. “We love everything about our rocks, from the natural crystal formations to the various colors and varieties of all these stones.”
“Our interest manifests in many different ways. We do go out and collect many of our own stones from here in Connecticut to all over the Northeast. We do many ‘working vacations,’ where we will go digging in the mud and dirt looking for crystals,” said Prior.
Although Prior and Caramanica have a shared love for rocks and stones, their families don’t understand that interest.
“Our families both have the same feeling… ‘Another rock?’ They laugh at us— as do most of our friends.”
“They don’t understand our enjoyment of hiking into the woods carrying tons of gear to go smash rocks looking for crystals,” said Prior. “It’s dirty, backbreaking, sweaty and far from glamorous and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The business relationship took some time to dig in, said Prior. “We talked for a long time about the what ifs and maybes, always agreeing how great it would be to do this as more than a casual hobby. One day we decided to bite the bullet and see where this path would lead us.”
“Originally,” said Prior, “we started with selling gem, crystal and mineral specimens from around the world.”
“Recently,” she said, “we have started making some things ourselves such as some jewelry and small ‘crystal gardens,’ which make great table top and window displays. We take suggestions from customers a lot and if we see something online, etc that we think would be a good fit for us we try it. As we continue to grow and evolve, so does what we offer.”
For the merchandise, TK’s Earthly Treasures brings to craft fairs and holiday bazaars, Prior said, “We have a very haphazard creative process. We both will come up with ideas and those will change a hundred times before we actually come to the finished product or our final presentation of something. It is an ongoing learning curve for both of us.
TK’s Earthly Treasures does its share of gem and mineral shows. “There’s a wealth of knowledge to be had at these shows. Geologists and casual collectors are always happy to share information and you always walk away knowing something that you didn’t know before.”
That said, Prior explained, “We really enjoy doing the craft shows and bazaars for lots of reasons. Everyone is great. (There are) so many friendly people, from the other vendors to the customers.”
TK’s Earthly Treasures schedule for the holidays is as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: New England Carousel Museum’s 4th annual Bizarre Bazaar, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol.
Saturday, Nov. 24 from 9:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Stamford High School’s 2nd annual Holiday Shopping Fair, 55 Strawberry Hill Rd., Stamford.
Saturday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Clintonville Elementary School Holiday Bazaar, 456 Clintonville Rd., North Haven.
If you can’t make a show, visit TK’s Earthly Treasures Facebook page or send an email to email@example.com.