It was a moment 24 years in the making. This past December, jewelry and bead dressmaker Gail Be was invited to a party at Muse in Minneapolis for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was in town for a scheduled campaign stop. Be had assumed she would merely be rubbing elbows with fellow supporters at the celebration, but soon she found herself ushered upstairs to meet Clinton herself.
"This is Gail Be!" the security loudly announced three times.
The two women greeted each other, and posed for a picture. Much to Be's surprise and delight, she saw that Clinton was wearing one of her designs, a dark-red necklace made of carnelian and brown agate, paired with a scarf.
"I walked up to her and I said, 'Thank you for wearing my necklace!'" says Be.
"Why wouldn't I wear your necklace?" Clinton responded. "I knew you'd be here."
It all began back in 1992. Be was struggling with bipolar disorder. During that time, she was also beginning to realize that she had a knack for bead work. At the suggestion of her counselor, she created a locket with a beaded American flag, and sent it on to Clinton, who was campaigning for her husband's presidency at the time.
A few weeks later, she received a thank-you note from Clinton.
“Thank you for the locket,” the note stated. “I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and your support of Bill's candidacy.”
Inspired by the positive acknowledgement, Be applied for and received a $3,000 grant allotted for individuals with mental health and physical struggles who were interested in grad school or learning a trade.
Since then, Be's career as a jewelry designer and bead artist has hit some impressive and unique career highs. In 2014, she received national attention for her Fantasy gown, a huge, spectacular wedding dress made entirely of beads — 1 million of them. The piece weighs around 400 pounds, and is considered the world's largest beaded wedding dress.
Her pieces have also shown up on celebrities, including Lady Gaga, who sparkled in Be's "Erotic Ice" top on the cover of "Anything Goes," a single from Cheek to Cheek, her collaboration with Tony Bennett. Adelaide Kane, who plays Mary Queen of Scots on CW's Reign, wore one of Be's intricate dress designs on an episode as well.
When Be heard that Clinton herself would be running for president in 2016, she was inspired to send some pieces along again.
"I believe in her then and I believe in her now," she says.
She made eight more necklaces, and sent them out with a pic of the original locket and a note of appreciation. Be's agent in L.A., who is close friends with someone who works for the Clintons, sent the pieces on. Moved by the gift and letter, the campaign has since featured her story on its official website, which led to the invite and Clinton sporting one of her designs.
Since December's event and meet-and-greet, Be feels her career has come full circle.
"It was a moment of women supporting each other," she says of the experience.
As for future plans, Be is currently focusing on designing necklaces and other jewelry works.
"I've got to follow where the energy goes," she says. "Necklaces and jewelry are so much easier than making dresses. A dress is like 9,000 necklaces."
She hopes to get her pieces into shops in Los Angeles, Minnesota, and perhaps Washington D.C. For now, you check out her work at gailbe.com.