By Elizabeth Barrett Wiles
If you had asked Amber Godwin 10 years ago what the next decade would bring her, the prediction would have been a bit off. Through some heartache and some faith, she has launched, set and anchored down in her unique—and beautiful—new venture.
Anchor Beads seems like an appropriate name for a line of jewelry available to patrons throughout the Cape Fear and beyond. With its blue and green sea glass accents, intricate tribal patterns and classy-casual design, the jewelry is a perfect match for people of all ages and from all regions. It’s funky, yet elegant. It’s gracefully designed but also downright cool. The “anchor” in the name, however, is not a result of an attempt to market to a coastal, boat-loving audience. Anchor Beads’ owner, Amber Godwin, holds the word, the image and the significance of the word much closer to her soul than your local captain.
In May 2014, Amber’s daughter Georgia was diagnosed with leukemia. Amber was working in accounting at the time, sitting behind a desk day after day for a total of 13 years; a situation of which she was not exactly fond, especially given the added stress of having an ill child.
A craftswoman by nature, Amber has an eye for all things bright and beautiful. The interest, however, stemmed from Georgia’s grandmother—Amber’s mother—who would find that jewelry-making was a project that was the highlight of her granddaughter’s frequent visits to her home.
“My mom just kept buying little beads at Michaels, and Georgia would go over to their house and they would make jewelry,” Amber said. “She was so excited about it… they had so much fun, and I wanted to make necklaces, too. Georgia loved it so much, so I said let’s do that.”
In the summer of 2015, Amber and Georgia began making jewelry more often as a fun activity to engage in together and a distraction from the situation at hand.
But what she anticipated to be simply an amusing mother-daughter recreation turned into something far more.
Georgia was hospitalized in the PICU in late 2015 and diagnosed with a rare and aggressive secondary HLH Syndrome. This jewelry-making pastime between the two now became Amber’s therapy while Georgia was on life support. Whether it was a healthcare professional at the hospital, a friend, a family member or someone who had heard about her wearable art around town, people took notice of the products of her “therapy” and wanted to don the items themselves; perhaps due to a combination of support for Georgia and the Godwin family and the obvious appeal of the beautiful work Amber was creating to aid her heart and soul. In turn, Amber began slowly selling her necklaces and donating a portion of her earnings to childhood cancer research.
Georgia Grace Godwin died at the age of seven on December 10, 2015.
Years later, Amber—and now her team—continue to honor Georgia’s life by creating their jewelry to help raise money for childhood cancer, with 10% of their proceeds going to the cause in her memory. The name “Anchor Beads” was derived from the verse the Godwin’s have read, spoken and engrained in their minds since Georgia’s leukemia diagnosis.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19)
Following Georgia’s death, the Godwin’s set up a nonprofit: Team Georgia, Inc. They hold a fundraiser each September called the “Anchor Run” and give the proceeds to the four local charities that were important to them during their journey with Georgia’s leukemia diagnosis. These charities include Riley’s Army, Beau’s Buddies Foundation, Ronald McDonald of Eastern North Carolina and the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital. Since 2016, they have donated just under $100,000 to these organizations.
“This is a way to keep her alive in my heart and share her with others,” Amber says. “When people buy the jewelry, they can message me through my website, and they tell me that they are battling cancer or that they have a friend who has a child that was just diagnosed.”
For Amber, however, this venture continues to be her therapy. A conveniently prosperous therapy.
“Some people just love the jewelry itself, some people shop with meaning… you’ve got it all,” Amber adds. “It’s a full-time job, but it’s still fun.”
The Anchor Bead family is just that: a family. Amber works alongside her best friend and two other associates who have been by her side for three years. They design and make the jewelry together with Amber continuing to run the show.
“It has been an awesome experience,” Amber says. “It has turned something awful into something good for me.”
Amber and her husband now have seven-year-old and 22-month-old daughters.
“Georgia will never escape our minds… we talk about her all the time,” Amber says. “We have such a firm faith in God, and we know where Georgia is, and that is our comfort. We know we will see her again someday.”
Georgia’s heart of gold, sweetness, angelic nature, gentleness and special soul is reflected in the jewelry that is now made in her remembrance. Anchor Beads is available at shops throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Amber has even been shipping internationally of late—most recently as far as Australia. Jewelry is also available conveniently through the Anchor Beads website at www.anchorbeads.com.