Janean Lindner is a talkative sort, so it’s no surprise that she has close to 30 people working under her umbrella as an independent jewelry designer for Origami Owl.
Her words don’t ramble. Instead they flow together to the point that you want to take it all in without pause for clarification.
A Lee’s Summit resident for a little more than three years, Lindner relocated to the area with her husband and their four sons. Her mother and her mother’s husband soon followed.
After living here in the 1990s, the Lindner family moved to Pennsylvania then to Arizona. They later spent 10 years in Orange County, Calif., a place Lindner said is all about keeping up with the latest trends.
“I’m more of a simple girl,” Lindner said. “You can find me in flip-flops more than you will find me in (fancy) dresses and pumps.”
Caught in a web of materialistic and superficial things, the family came upon rough times seven years ago when the patriarch, Stace Lindner, was involved in a near-fatal rollover accident months after the couple’s eldest son suffered traumatic brain injuries in a skateboarding accident.
The injuries and their related expenses forced the Lindners to lose their home and post in a hotel for six months.
“We lost everything,” Lindner said. “Sofas, big screen TVs and all of that. Everybody (in Orange County) is about appearance and everybody has stuff. I was kind of stripped of all of my stuff.”
Lindner wasn’t bashing Orange County or its residents – she said a collection drive after media reports of the family’ plight helped them land back on their feet. She was just stating the facts of the family’s experience.
“I went on a mission trip to Africa with my 14-year-old son at the time shortly after that, and I got a chance to see what true poverty was,” Lindner said. “I got to see children with no clothes. I got to see women who had no clothes yet they walked for hours and some of them for days just to worship God.
“It kind of humbled myself and my son. We thought we had nothing. These people truly had nothing. All they have is God. I went to serve these people but these people actually served me.”
Once she and her son returned to the states, Lindner started wearing less makeup and not as much jewelry.
“My son didn’t ask for an iPod. He didn’t ask for a cellphone,” Lindner said. “We still didn’t have a lot and we were struggling. We had a lot of (personal) stuff going on.”
Lindner was a freelance photographer and marketing director before becoming a full-time independent owner of Origami Owl, a customized jewelry company. She started off with four designers under her in March. That number now stands at 30.
The jewelry Lindner now sports is understated, less extravagant than what she wore out West. They are customized pieces she created for herself under the Origami brand. Most are inscribed with uplifting words, phrases or messages.
Her goal is to use the business as a way to take care of her family, give people employment opportunities and be an agent for good in the Lee’s Summit community.
Lindner will raise funds for the Lee’s Summit Animal Shelter as part of her September Origami Owl Living Lockets force for good mission. She plans to use a social media marketing campaign to help raise the money.
“The Lee’s Summit Animal Control is always in need of towels, blankets, kitten, puppy, cat and dog food,” said Lindner.
Returning here to live, close to where her mother grew up in Raytown, has been just what the family needed, Lindner said. She added her husband has fully recovered from his injuries although her oldest son has battled mental illness along with his injuries. She credits ReDiscover mental health in Lee’s Summit with playing a big part in her son’s progression.
“After all of that stuff happened, we were just struggling in California,” she said. “I was just disenchanted with everyone has to have a cool car and you have to have Botox and you need to wear certain name brands. After going to Africa and seeing the people that had nothing, it just really irritated me.
“I came back here for a photography workshop and my mom was with me and we just loved the simplicity of life here. People are more family oriented and they don’t care what kind of car you drive and what you look like.”
Toriano Porter is the Business and Education reporter for the Lees Summit Journal.