Jimi Gwinn sculpted a life and a future business in art from a little lump of clay.
AS A YOUNG BOY GROWING UP in Paducah, Jimi Gwinn loved playing with Legos, taking art lessons in Ms. E.J.’s studio on Jefferson Street, and like so many young all-American boys, dreamed of someday playing for the NFL.
Little did he know that a seed was planted in his heart during those formative years. From that seed would grow a passion for creating beauty which bubbles right to the surface the minute you begin talking with this twenty-something entrepreneur.
While seeking a degree in economics at the University of Kentucky, Jimi decided to take a sculpture class as an elective. It was this hands-on academic encounter that inspired the talented young man to try his hand at woodworking.
Gwinn, who is confined to a wheel chair, has difficulties sitting at most traditionally designed desks. Fueled by his own needs and his newly discovered interest, he began, with very minimal tools, a challenging summer project of building himself a customized desk.
“Building furniture introduced me to the beauty and intricate patterns that are natural to exotic hardwoods,” Jimi recalls. “My next venture was into the craft of box-making.”
As fate would have it, Paducah’s Artist Relocation Program was then in full swing, and Jimi was able to exhibit his work in downtown galleries. It didn’t take long for his ability to unite different woods in aesthetically pleasing ways to be appreciated and noticed by art lovers around the region.
In 2006, Gwinn’s creative spirit led him to an apprenticeship with Leon McGary, a talented craftsman who had spent a career in custom jewelry design. With yet another skill under his belt, Jimi opened J.S. Gwinn Fine Jewelry, which is located at 212 Lone Oak Road in Paducah.
Jimi, who jokingly credits this unusual spelling of his name to his childhood adoration for rock star Jimi Hendricks, specializes in custom jewelry for his customers. A large bulk of his work centers around harvesting stones from older pieces and reworking them into more contemporary designs suited for today’s lifestyle.
Jimi excitedly talks about the varied computer programs available to assist him not only in the design process, but in the actual fabrication of jewelry. He has recently purchased a brand new software package, which greatly expands his capabilities. As a true artist, Jimi is always exploring different mediums and new techniques. He is currently “playing” with this new software and discovering more intricate designs for hardwoods, which he hopes to craft in jewelry.
Jimi is quick to admit that he loves living and working where he grew up and being surrounded by family. In the next breath, he emphasizes that he isn’t the only Gwinn contributing to Paducah’s economic growth with a newly opened business. He proudly and enthusiastically plugs his sister Erin’s new business, Serenitea.
“We’re family. That’s what we do. We take care of each other,” Jimi says of the close sibling connection both from the family standpoint and from the entrepreneurial endeavors he and Erin are simultaneously engineering.
Jimi Gwinn chose Paducah Bank to assist him with the creation of his local business because he sees that “takingcare-of-family philosophy” in every aspect of working with Paducah Bank. “I really can’t emphasize too much how important it is to have a great bank on your side when you start down the business ownership path. The people at Paducah Bank were there with me every step of the way as I created my business plan and set up my operation at J.S. Gwinn. Having them on my side was critical to my success.”