New York City. March 26, 2020. Since jewelry isn’t exactly a priority for most during this current worldwide health crisis, many jewelers have resorted to other activities in their newly acquired free time. Consider Jeff Feero, one of the principals in the esteemed brand Alex Sepkus, known for its masterful miniature wearable gold sculptures with a mosaic-like signature style. Feero commutes between Manhattan and a home on an organic farm in upstate New York, and it is from this country residence, with now ample time on his hands, that Feero is contributing some of his most valuable industry savvy yet: comedy. To see it, queue up his personal Instagram handle at @jeffreyfeero. (To see Alex Sepkus jewelry, visit the handle @alexsepkus.)
Jewelry from Alex Sepkus
A post on March 13 shows a collage of photos of Tom Hanks in various movie roles with a headline “Never Travel With Tom Hanks.” The first photo shows Hanks as the ship captain in “Captain Phillips” with the caption “His ship got hijacked,” and the second photo shows Hanks as “Sully” with the line “His plane crashed.” A third shot shows Hanks asleep in the airport as Viktor Navorski from “The Terminal” with the subtitle “He got stuck at an airport,” and the final photo shows Hanks as the Fed Ex staffer stranded on a deserted island in “Castaway” with a caption pointing out that fact. The punchline? “And now Tom Hanks has COVID 19,” which reflects the news report that Hanks and his wife, while traveling in Australia, contracted the virus.
Good, right? Well, there’s more—a lot more.
A post on March 12 shows a small blue bathroom with walls covered in rolls of toilet paper and the caption “I’ve finally finished my panic room.”
On March 22, Feero posted a picture of hot pepper plants with the text “Will train you to stop touching your face … and other places.” On March 23, he showed a comic strip featuring a man asking his dog to shake hands—above a newspaper with a Coronavirus headline—with this sentiment from the dog in a hovering thought balloon: “No effing way.” And on March 24, Feero posted one to which many of us—and our dogs—can likely relate. A photo a of a passed-out pooch with surrounding copy “That’s the sixth walk today, WTF is a Corona?”
Feero maintains he can’t take credit for the creation of the memes—they come from friends all over the world—but he willingly circulates them to share the relief they offer. “People say there are three cures to anxiety—alcohol, sex, and humor,” he says. “Well, I can’t provide the other two, so I’m going to go with the third for as long as I can.”
His favorite meme to date? The twins from “The Shining” standing at the end of supermarket aisle with bare shelves.
Memes aren’t the only satire evident on his social media. Feero also makes how-to videos that combine farm life with survivalist-infused guidance. Among them: how to make your own toilet paper, which has been in short supply because of hoarders and panic shoppers. Feero’s suggestion, which he illustrates in his home workshop? Use a hack saw to slice one roll of paper towels into three TP-size ones.
Yesterday’s video tip was entitled “Bee Safe” and showed Feero in a beekeeper’s suit lined with a heating system filter. “This serves three purposes,” he explained. “Clean air, keeps you from touching your face—your eyes and your mouth—and when you go to the grocery store and walk down the aisle, it’s amazing how the aisle clears out.”
Ring in gold with watermelon tourmaline from Alex Sepkus
Finally, a few simple photos with clever punchlines round out the laughs. A photo of Feero in an industrial gas mask has the caption “Happy Wednesday! Time to go into town for a few supplies. On the upside didn’t have to shave or comb my hair.”
Another image shows Feero in a clear face shield holding a giant bottle of hand sanitizer that he’s about to pump into his mouth. Line? “A quick snack before getting the 5:50 train out of Grand Central. #purellbuzz.”
About that Purell? Feero’s wife bought a bunch of it upstate before mass panic set in. “I handed them out around the shop, and it was as if we were handing out Christmas bonuses,” he says.
While more funnies are in the works, Feero says he doesn’t intend to force them. Fortunately, life has been delivering nonstop ironies and easy jokes. Consider the photo of beachgoers in Miami, which Feero captioned, “The 2020 Darwin Award Winner is: Springbreakers! #thintheherd.”
The silver lining and unifier in all of Feero’s efforts is togetherness. “We are all in this at the same level,” he explains. “We are all equally broke or challenged right now, and we will climb out of this by doing things jointly. I had an old boss in the 1980s who sold expensive jewelry during the Depression. So, I know that if he could do it during the Depression, we can carry on when this is all over.”
Editor’s Note: I conducted a live Instagram interview with Jeff Feero yesterday, and this article is a summary of our chat. Follow me at @jenniferheebner to see more live talks with jewelry insiders.
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