Designer's Story

Jean Cotten Schnaak
My name is Jean Cotten Schnaak.  I'm a registered nurse.   As a little girl I dreamed of being a nurse... never a jewelry designer nor owning my own business.  I confess, I could make some pretty cute clothes for my Barbie doll with pieces of cloth and straight pins,  but my heart was into caring for people.  Then in 1994, I gave my husband a Valentine's gift which changed my life.
Here's My Story....
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina with loving Christian parents, two older brothers and aunts, uncles and cousins too numerous to count.  Each Sunday our church service ended with the congregation singing the J.E. Rankin hymn, God Be With You Till We Meet Again. As a child, this song signaled the end of having to sit still in church, the commencement of a big Sunday Dinner and an afternoon of playing in the yard and nearby woods with friends and cousins. What cherished memories!  Now each time I return to Wake Chapel Church in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, I sing God Be With You Till We Meet Again knowing that each day is precious and each person that I love is to be cherished. 
As a former Atlanta Life Flight Nurse specializing in trauma care and labor and delivery, I've witnessed many relationships undergoing life changing events. Some events - like the birth of a child were joy-filled and full of promise; others involved tragedy that altered lives forever. My heart ached at the hearing of last words being spoken,  always "I love you.  I love you so much. I'll always love you"  accompanied by tears of heart-brokenness.
Relationships are the most important element of life. I feel strongly that in these busy times those closest to us need to know we love them and are there for them through life's ups and downs. 
My passion, my business and my collection of jewelry are about caring for others, much like my career in nursing. - Jean Cotten Schnaak, Designer

The Story of Loving Heart 

It all started as a gift for my husband. Valentines Day 1994 was rapidly approaching. As an airline pilot, Neil was away from home a lot. I wanted to give him something that he could carry with him as a private reminder of our unwavering love. 

I was sure that my husband would be reluctant to wear a visible item of sentiment other than his wedding band. So I decided to give him a simple heart pin to be worn inside his airline jacket over his heart.  I thought in that private location, each time he happened to glimpse it, he'd smile, reminded of home and the love we share.  I shopped all over Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee for a simple heart pin.  As I shared with each salesperson, what I was looking for and how I was planning to surprise my husband with a symbol of my heart for him to wear over his heart each day, each salesperson said "I've never heard of a man wearing an item of sentiment inside of his jacket over his heart.  You've come up with a unique gift for men and great business idea!" 

Unable to locate a simple heart pin, I fashioned one myself out of a tiny earring and gave it to Neil along with a little note that read "Whether we are near or far, we'll always be heart to heart." 

The impact of this symbol of our shared love was immediate. Neil said that it provided him with a source of strength and reminder of our love whether he was running errands around town or "flying the line".  His comments made me realize the power of love in that tiny heart. 

My nursing colleagues liked my gift idea.  Totally agreeing that the choices for a sentimental gift for a man are few and far between, my nursing colleagues said that they would love to give a Loving Heart Pin to their husbands too. I encouraged them to ask their husbands about the idea of a little heart hidden on the inside of their jackets. The men really liked the idea. Their encouragement helped bring The Loving Heart Collection by Jean Schnaak® to reality. 

It's been thirty years since the giving of that first Loving Heart Pin.    What began as a simple pin is now a collection of Loving Hearts such as pocket hearts, necklaces, earrings and more, all accompanied by a verse card to help people express what is in their heart towards someone special.  As I fill each order I say a little blessing for the tiny heart - that it may serve others well. I like to think that in a small but significant way I'm nursing the hearts of others. 

In case anyone wonders, my husband still wears his Loving Heart Pin in his jacket over his heart. I wear one too. 

"My belief is that in this busy world we need to take the time to express our love to the people closest to us. Words of love need to be spoken. Gifts from The Loving Heart Collection by Jean Schnaak® are designed to help people express their love, caring and encouragement to others during the good times as well as the challenging times of their lives. My hope is that by telling the special people in our lives how much they mean to us, that our world will be a better place." - Jean Cotten Schnaak