High-end Rosary Maker Has Faith In Her Art, Business

BY AARON CLAVERIE / STAFF WRITER  Published: June 23, 2016

Arasely Rios has been making rosaries since she was 8.

Arasely Rios, Seraphym Designs

Arasely Rios is a Temecula based artist and owner of Seraphym Designs, which makes high-end Rosaries. Rios was recently accepted to a special program for Latino business owners that helps them expand their operations. She is wearing her ‘Necklace of Divine Grace.’

In 2008, the former national director of education for cosmetics company L’Oreal turned the childhood hobby into a business, Seraphym Designs, fulfilling orders from friends and acquaintances who loved her unique designs.

“I always found them beautiful and sacred,” said the Temecula-based artist. “The rosary is a sacramental that represents family values and principles. They carry the remnants of faith and prayer from generation to generation, like passing the baton of faith from person to person.”

In the early days, the company grew by word of mouth and the passion of her fanbase, which found value in ornate and intricate pieces that sell for hundreds of dollars.

She later tapped the wisdom of mentors and attended numerous seminars and workshops to help her business succeed, an effort that led to a commission to create a rosary for Pope Francis during his visit to the United States.

While that would be the highwater mark for many entrepreneurs, Rios is just getting started. She was recently selected for a Stanford program that helps Latino entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

“In just three weeks this program has not only told me what to do, but it is showing me how to do it,” said Rios, who presented one of her rosaries to Pope Francis during his U.S. visit last year.

Providing an example, Rios said she attended a presentation on the Stanford campus by an accountant who told the group that he’d teach them all they need to know about business accounting.

Although Rios was initially skeptical about his claim, the accountant delivered, dazzling his subjects with a crash course in number crunching.

“Sure enough, his method is by far the best,” she said. “I learned in 10 minutes what my accountants aren’t doing,” she said.

To be considered for the six-week program, created by the Latino Business Action Network and Stanford faculty, an applicant must have either generated $1 million in revenue or have raised $1 million in funding.

Rios said she was nominated for the program, which admits 80 business owners per session, by an alumnus.

Rios said, who is in the middle of the six week program, said the kickoff event in Palo Alto was invigorating, a shot of business adrenaline that can be traced to the combined creativity of having that many entrepreneurs in one place.

“It was incredible how things quickly got done; very different from a corporate environment,” she said.

Seraphym Designs is expanding and now includes jewelry has deals in places with various gift shops and she is opening a showroom in Las Vegas in July.

Rios, who lived in Upland and San Clemente before settling in Temecula last year, said one of the best parts about the program is the assistance it provides to under-funded Latino business owners who sometimes have a hard time finding venture capital.

As Rios’ business has grown, she’s had opportunities to outsource production to China or India but she has decided to keep production in the U.S. to create jobs and opportunity.

“I hope to see change in government laws that will help support the efforts of manufacturing companies in this country,” she said.

A third session, or “cohort,” of the program will take place from Oct. 1 to Nov. 19.

Contact the writer: 951-368-9698 or aclaverie@pe.com

Original link to the published article can be seen by clicking HERE

Temecula Artist crafts a rosary for Pope Francis on US visit where he’ll canonize Junipero Serra

Radio Interview by Nick Roman with KPCC staff

 Click Here to listen to the entire audio interview with Arasely Rios, Founder and Creative Director of Seraphym Designs Rosaries.

Pope Francis arrives in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he’ll perform a mass of canonization for Junipero Serra. He’ll be presented with a one-of-a-kind rosary designed and handcrafted by a Temecula artist, Arasely Rios.

The 18th century Franciscan brought the first Catholic missions to California. Some Native Americans oppose his sainthood, claiming the missions helped destroy indigenous culture.

Rios said that she thinks it was divine providence that led to her being chosen to make this rosary for the pope. She got the call from the religious community at the Carmel Mission.

Rios has been making rosaries since she was 8 years old.

“I fell in love with the craft behind it. So when I got the call to make a rosary for the pope, I immediately thought, ‘OK, I can’t make him a rosary that is standard.’ And I decided, ‘OK, it’s got to be unique, but it’s also got to be humble.'”

The rosary has 13 main beads, plus other accent beads, and uses a stone called bronzite, Rios said.

“It’s like a brownish bronze color, which actually mimics the color of the Franciscan habits that they wear today,” Rios said. “The metals are solid bronze, and they’re replicas of the Caravaca cross that St. Serra was wearing when they exhumed his body, and was the cross that he would wear.”

Another idea came to Rios through prayer, she said — one that she’d never seen done before.

“I took one of the bead’s caps, one of the bronze caps that I use to embellish the rosary, and inside of it I placed a crystal. And you don’t really see it unless light hits it, and it’s just symbolic of the light within us all,” Rios said.

She overnighted the completed rosary to the person who commissioned her, who is going to be present at the canonization, where they will meet the pope and give him the gift, Rios said.

Rios said she’d love to see a picture of the pope with the rosary, though she doesn’t know if there will be a camera at the ready.

“Honestly, I would love for him to pray with the rosary. That’s really what I’m hoping for. That when he takes it back home, that he sits with it, and prays with it,” Rios said.

Rios said that she sees both sides of the controversy around Father Serra. Rios herself is Native American, Latin and Spanish.

“I’m proud to be both. And I hope that I can represent unity, you know — a melding of two cultures that can respect each other, that can acknowledge the bad, and yet embrace the good,” Rios said.

Original link to the published article can be seen by clicking HERE

Temecula Woman Tapped to Make Rosary as a Gift to Pope Francis During His Visit

Originally published by the Valley News by  on 

Rosary designer Arasely Rios with her dog Luna in her Temecula studio. Rios is crafting a rosary for Pope Francis which he will receive upon his arrival to the U.S. on Sept. 22. Photo by Shane Gibson

Rosary designer Arasely Rios with her dog Luna in her Temecula studio. Rios is crafting a rosary for Pope Francis which he will receive upon his arrival to the U.S. on Sept. 22. Photo by Shane Gibson

A Temecula artist who turned her life over to God seven years ago was recently commissioned to create a one-of-a-kind rosary that will be given to Pope Francis in connection with the canonization of Father Junipero Serra.

Still a bit off-balance from the media and community exposure, Arasely Rios spent last weekend scrambling to finish the heirloom piece that will be given to the Pope next week when he visits Washington, D.C.

Rosary designer Arasely Rios works on a rosary in her Temecula studio. Rios has been chosen by Catholics participating in Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. to handcraft a rosary that will be given to him upon his arrival. Photo by Shane Gibson

Rosary designer Arasely Rios works on a rosary in her Temecula studio. Rios has been chosen by Catholics participating in Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. to handcraft a rosary that will be given to him upon his arrival. Photo by Shane Gibson

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Rios, 45, said of the attention that fueled one newspaper story and then attracted another reporter and a photographer to her Temecula studio. “Who am I? I’m just a rosary maker.”

But Rios isn’t a mere craftsperson who strings together 59 beads, a medallion and a crucifix to make sacramental pieces that are used by many Catholics to pray. She describes herself as led by the Lord to produce rosaries, many of which she has given away over the years, and to promote their use among the faithful.

“Rosaries are all about praising God and praying,” she said. “I really think it is my purpose in life to make rosaries.”

Making rosaries was a hobby that Rios embraced at the age of 8 as she grew up in the city of Upland. She crafted rosaries out of string, wire and beads and gave them away to members and missionaries of her church.

Rosary elements and inspirational pieces surround Arasely Rios’s work space. Rios states that she doesn’t want to design a flashy rosary for Pope Francis, but instead wants to create one for him that is unique and one that displays her own personal touch. Shane Gibson photo

Rosary elements and inspirational pieces surround Arasely Rios’s work space. Rios states that she doesn’t want to design a flashy rosary for Pope Francis, but instead wants to create one for him that is unique and one that displays her own personal touch. Shane Gibson photo

Her family regularly prayed the rosary, and a family friend, Paz, was one of her rosary-making mentors.

Rios continued her hobby as she veered into the cosmetics industry. That field became her career for the next 22 years, and she climbed to the post of national education director for L’Oreal. She married along the way, and she and her husband accumulated homes, cars and an array of other pricey possessions.

Then a trip to northern Spain, the birthplace of her mother, in the fall of 2008 changed her life.

She found herself nearly alone in a vast cathedral. She took confession from the priest, and then thanked God for the many blessings that He had bestowed upon her. She then asked God to use her as He desired.

In that conversation of the heart, she promised God that she would not complain if He stretched and shaped her in ways she did not understand. A string of changes quickly unfolded.

Her husband met someone else and their marriage ended. She lost her job and was left with a pile of bills and scant assets. Her life had crumbled in just a few months – a period in which the nation’s economy was gripped by a grinding recession – yet she felt the Lord’s hand in the midst of it all.

Arasely Rios with her dog Luna, stands in one of her rosary work areas. Rios’s affinity for rosary making began when she was 8 and now at 45, she is the founder and creative director of Seraphym Designs, which mainly produces heirloom rosaries and wedding rosaries, but also includes earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Photo by Shane Gibson

Arasely Rios with her dog Luna, stands in one of her rosary work areas. Rios’s affinity for rosary making began when she was 8 and now at 45, she is the founder and creative director of Seraphym Designs, which mainly produces heirloom rosaries and wedding rosaries, but also includes earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Photo by Shane Gibson

“My whole life changed. Everything changed,” she recalled. “I didn’t know how I’d eat. I had no idea. Yet there was joy, peace and happiness that covered all that pain. It was actually the happiest time of my life when I had nothing.”

Then, unexpectedly, an acquaintance asked Rios if her rosaries were available for purchase. Rios said she answered “yes,” and the acquaintance bought nine of them. News of her love of the traditional prayer mode spread, a ripple effect that has helped offset a decline in interest in the rosary among many Catholic parishes. She was invited to lead a church rosary group and has frequently been featured on a radio show that focuses on the act of saying specific prayers in set patterns, often in a measured cadence, that comprise the Catholic rosary.

Her renown grew after she began exhibiting and selling her rosaries at Catholic conventions.

Word continued to spread, and the demand for her pieces has grown to the point that Rios has her museum-quality pieces available for purchase at about 400 stores and gift shops throughout the U.S. and Canada. She hopes to expand her distribution to Europe in about two years.

Rosary designer Arasely Rios’s work space where she will handcraft a rosary with her own unique touch for Pope Francis, which will be given to him upon his U.S. arrival on Sept. 22. Photo by Shane Gibson

Rosary designer Arasely Rios’s work space where she will handcraft a rosary with her own unique touch for Pope Francis, which will be given to him upon his U.S. arrival on Sept. 22. Photo by Shane Gibson

Her company, Seraphym Designs, takes its name from the highest order of angels. She only uses beads that have a biblical or special significance. Some rosaries feature as many as 150 parts, and the chains and medals are crafted from silver, gold and bronze. Each rosary features an angel’s wing that signifies her company.

She has created special designs for missions in Carmel, San Juan Capistrano and Pala. Her brother is an artist who helps sharpen many of Rios’ designs. She taps a team of helpers in Riverside and Los Angeles to assemble many of her rosaries. She relies on an Arizona foundry for her metal work, and a tiny grey-and-white dog, Luna, for companionship while she creates her designs, orders materials and performs other tasks.

She has remarried and won a measure of success in the jewelry industry. Yet she continues to give away many of her pieces.

Her rosaries at the Carmel mission drew the attention of some California Catholic leaders who will play an active role in Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the East Coast. They commissioned Rios to make a rosary that will be presented to the Pope on Sept. 23 when Serra is elevated to sainthood status at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Arasely Rios shows the wood box in which the rosary she will handcraft for Pope Francis will be encased. Photo by Shane Gibson

Pope Francis arrives at Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22. His visit, which ends Sept. 27, will include side trips to New York and Philadelphia. His appearances and visits will include stops or masses at the Capitol, the White House, United Nations, the World Trade Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Rios said she will be attending the Pope’s Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. She also hopes to wrangle an invitation to Serra’s Canonization Mass.

Rosary designer Arasely Rios shows seraphinite stone bead elements that will potentially be used in the rosary she will make for Pope Francis. Named after seraphim angels – the marbled patterns in seraphinite stones are believed to resemble the feathers of an angel’s wings. Photo by Shane Gibson

Rosary designer Arasely Rios shows seraphinite stone bead elements that will potentially be used in the rosary she will make for Pope Francis. Named after seraphim angels – the marbled patterns in seraphinite stones are believed to resemble the feathers of an angel’s wings. Photo by Shane Gibson

Serra was an 18th century Franciscan monk who played a crucial role in establishing a string of 21 missions that linked the fledgling settlements that laced California’s coastline.

Rios said she alone will be making the Pope’s rosary, which will feature beads made of bronzite, a brown gemstone intended to match the color of the Franciscans’ robes. It will also include seraphinite, a green and white stone that will note the role that Rios’ company had in the gift.

The crucifix will be patterned after the cross that was buried with Serra at the Carmel mission in 1784.

“Everything I do has to be symbolic – the colors, the beads,” Rios said. “It’s going to be very special.”

Original link to the published article can be seen by clicking HERE

Temecula Rosary Artist has Gift for The Pope

Originally published by The San Diego Union Tribune by Pam Kragen | 3:08 p.m. Sept. 7, 2015

 — When Pope Francis canonizes Father Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C. later this month, he’ll be honored with a special gift — a rosary made by a Temecula artist who has devoted the last nine years of her life to her faith-inspired craft.

Arasely Rios, founder Seraphym Designs

Artist Arasely Rios makes high-end handcrafted rosaries (prayer beads for Catholics) and jewelry, and is shown selling them at the SCRC Catholic Renewal Convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 4, 2015. Allen J. Schaben

Arasely Rios, 45, said making rosaries — which she once gave away to strangers and now sells for up to $360 apiece — saved her emotionally and spirituality when her life was at a low ebb in 2008. The lifelong Catholic said being commissioned to make a rosary for the Pope is the pinnacle of all she’s worked for since starting her home-based business, Seraphym Designs.

“When I got the call to make a rosary for the Pope, I didn’t know what to think. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for years,” she said. “The one I make for him will be very, very special.”

Pope Francis will arrive in Washington on Sept. 22 for his first official visit to the United States. His six-day itinerary, with side trips to New York and Philadelphia, will include public Masses, a meeting with President Obama and speeches to the U.S. Senate and U.N. General Assembly. But for many Catholics in California, the highlight will be the canonization Mass for soon-to-be Saint Serra on Sept. 23 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In the late 18th century, the Franciscan monk established Catholicism on the West Coast by building the first nine of 21 missions from San Diego to San Francisco. Serra’s canonization has drawn criticism from California Indian tribes who say their cultures were suppressed during the mission period. But the Pope’s progressive decrees and his heritage, as the first Latin American Pontiff, have made him tremendously popular among Catholics in America.

Rios said the rosary she is making for the Pope will have prayer beads made from bronzite, a brown gemstone that matches the color of the Franciscans’ robes. It will also have a crucifix inspired by the cross Serra was buried with at the mission in Carmel in 1784, as well as a prayer medals depicting both Saint Serra and the mission’s basilica.

Her rosaries — with the specially designed Carmel and Serra medals — are sold at the Carmel mission’s gift shop, and it is through that connection that she was commissioned last month to create the one-of-a-kind rosary for the Pope.

Rios’ rosaries are carried in more than 400 gift shops and bookstores nationwide. She sells as many as 5,000 a year, as well as another 4,000 or so religious-themed bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The rosaries range in price from $240 to $360, depending upon the materials she uses.

“A lot of people ask why my rosaries are so expensive but I tell them because there’s nothing standard about them, everything about them is unique,” she said.

A rosary consists of 59 prayer beads, a medallion and a crucifix, but Rios has added so many embellishments to her rosaries that they can have more than 100 elements. Her beads are made only from stones named in the Bible (like black onyx and lapis), pearls, Swarovski crystals or other semiprecious materials. The wire wrapping on each bead is intricately hand-turned and the chain is double- or triple-layered. The medals, minted from bronze, sterling silver and gold, are made for her at a foundry in Arizona with designs inspired by rosary coins and medals from the 1400s to 1800s. And the crucifixes are hand-cast bronze with designs drawn from antiquity. Each rosary is adorned with a small bronze angel wing that symbolizing her company’s name. A seraphym (or seraphim) is the highest order of angel.

“They’re known to sing praises at the throne of God all day long,” Rios said. “Praying the rosary is singing praises to God. The rosary is the altar. Each bead is seasoned with prayers and gratitude and lamentations. It’s a sacred piece.”

Rios grew up in the city of Upland, where her family prayed the rosary together every night and her father’s passion was writing devotional poetry. She was 8 years old when she and a family friend started the nightly habit of making rosaries out of rope and plastic for the missionaries at their church. The effort became both her favorite hobby and a way to express her faith.

“I couldn’t wait to get home to make one every night,” she said. “I loved the craft behind it but I also found it meditative and very soothing. I could sit for hours and hours working on them and never get tired. It wasn’t just my hands working. It was mental and spiritually moving, too.”

Rios spent 22 years in the cosmetics industry, rising from counter girl for Shiseido to National Education Director for L’Oreal. On a cross-country flight to business meetings in New York, she could make three rosaries, which she’d give to fellow passengers and flight attendants. “Really anyone who would take one, I’d give them away.”

But her life took a dramatic turn in fall 2008 after a pilgrimage to a cathedral in Spain where she had what she describes as a life-changing conversation with God.

“I said ‘if I’m not on the path you want me to be on, change anything and I promise I won’t complain,” she said.

In the subsequent months, her marriage ended, she lost her job and her home and most of her material possessions. But at the same time, people began asking to buy her rosaries. She saw it as a sign from the divine.

“Through all that devastation and fear, there was this level of peace and joy that hovered over my trauma and heartbreak,” she said. “I dove deeper into prayer because I knew the conversation I had with God in Spain would change my life.”

As sales of her rosaries gradually grew, Rios was invited to lead a rosary group and then host a rosary radio program. She created a seminar where people could make their own rosaries and learn about their significance. Then when she began exhibiting at Catholic conventions, her customer base spread nationwide. She now has distribution in Canada, is expanding into Mexico next year and hopes to begin distributing in Europe in 2017. The business is growing so rapidly she no longer makes all of her own rosaries. She focuses on design and marketing and relies on a small team of Southern California workers who do all the wire-wrapping and stringing.

Judy Keane, who met Rios in 2009 at a Catholic conference in Phoenix, describes her friend as a role model who has transformed her life, career and faith through the rosary.

“Arasely has always drawn her great strength from her faith,” Keane said. “She handles herself with dignity and grace and has an aura of peace about her that is not readily found in our fast-paced world today. Her devotion to the rosary has inspired me to begin praying the rosary again.”

Original link to the published article can be seen by clicking HERE

SoCal woman creates rosary for Pope Francis

Originally published by the Fox 5 News by Kristina Audencial on 

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people from around the world flocked to the Pope’s canonization mass in the nation’s capitol Wednesday night.

Arasely Rios of Temecula was one of them. She describes the entire experience a miracle, also admitting she was not supposed to be in Washington, D.C. this week.

 

She happened to be in Philadelphia when she got a call late Tuesday night saying there was an extra ticket for her to see Pope Francis. She said she prayed she would get the opportunity to be there for the Pontiff’s first U.S. mass.

During the canonization mass, Rios said she cried as she felt her heart open up to the spiritual awakening she felt. Others around her wept as well.

But perhaps the most thrilling part about her trip to the nation’s capitol was the realization that Pope Francis would receive a one of a kind gift from Rios. She was commissioned to create a rosary for him earlier this summer.

Rios said she was chosen to handcraft the Pope’s rosary because she had already been commissioned to create rosaries for the Carmel Mission and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

After plenty of thought and time, Rios said she used a combination of precious stones and metals, like bronzite to create the Pope’s rosary. She explained each bead was symbolic.

Rios hopes Pope Francis will use her unique rosary in prayer.

To learn more about Rios’ handcrafted rosaries, click here.

Original link to the published article can be seen by clicking HERE

Leave a Reply