Curating handmade artistry

Boutique Moon + Arrow on Fabric Row is owned by alumna Chelsea Pearce.

Rechelle Payne is a freelance jeweler at Moon + Arrow and has been working in the boutique for the past six months. | Bree Handsteen TTN
Rechelle Payne is a freelance jeweler at Moon + Arrow and has been working in the boutique for the past six months. | Bree Handsteen TTN

Moon + Arrow, a three-year-old boutique located at 754 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row,  houses everything from jewelry made by the owner, Chelsea Pearce, to curated pieces by local, relatively unknown artists.

Pearce, a Philadelphia native, is no stranger to the world of design. Both of her parents were photographers and professors at the University of the Arts, and her longtime interest of metalwork eventually led her to study at the Tyler School of Art.

After a few semesters, Pearce felt she needed to take a more traditional approach to learning the art of jewelry-making, which brought her to Florence, Italy.

“I was really looking for an old-school way of learning, and it’s funny because my jewelry does not reflect that at all, but I wanted those skills and I wanted to learn it in that way,” Pearce said.

Pearce said her designs rely heavily on abstract, simplistic elements with inspirations coming from geometry and alchemy symbols that are related to metal. While Pearce established much of Moon + Arrow with her original work, she said she wasn’t always keen on focusing her career on jewelry.

“When you’re in school, and you’re studying something so diligently, and you’re trying to make it your art and not just this craft, you’re not thinking of making sellable work quite yet,” Pearce said. “Even though I thought about it a million times, and probably 20 other people recommended it, I had to have that moment where I had to get over myself as a jeweler, and find a way to make an affordable line that was really true to my aesthetic.”

Pearce then began to sell her jewelry, along with vintage goods she had curated, at markets and festivals across the country.  Eventually, this led her to the idea of opening a pop-up shop to temporarily sell her work.

In 2011, she rented the space that BUS STOP Boutique now occupies just down the street from Moon + Arrow, and within a few months of opening, Pearce said the shop had developed a following.

“It was all-in, but it was incredible, and by the end, people were saying, ‘You can’t close, you’re my favorite store in Philly,’” Pearce said. “And I was not expecting that.”

Hannah McIntosh, one of the frequent patrons of Moon + Arrow, said she appreciates the dedication Pearce puts into her work as part of the community.

“I just love the mixture of things in here, and how [Pearce] supports local artists,” Macintosh said. “I can always count on the fact that what I buy here is going to be quality. Like the prices might be a little higher, but you’re definitely paying for the quality.”

Aside from selling her own creations, Pearce said she feels strongly about promoting the work of other local artists.

“Things are not made the way that they used to be, unless they are by the  people we are trying to carry,” she said.

While Pearce has recently gained national attention through deals with companies like west elm and Urban Outfitters, she still wanted to make sure that the items in Moon + Arrow didn’t lose their integrity.

“With vintage being very trendy and all of that, it can get out of control,” Pearce explained. “It’s not fun anymore. It’s not a treasure anymore, you’re just buying this expensive thing. We just do what we love here, and I think that people can feel it, and I think that comes through.”

Pearce said in the future she would like to focus her energy on Moon + Arrow, instead of expanding nationally. Currently, Pearce is finishing up a new line of jewelry for the Fall 2015 season.

Julianne Springler can be reached at

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