A brief story of what you do and why you do it.
I never really knew what I was REALLY good at until I turned 30. My gift is to uplift. I'm really good at finding the best in people and showing them how much I appreciate the things that maybe no one else really sees yet. I found this through my teaching. I teach kids who come from tough backgrounds. Often, I am the only one in their lives who tells them I'm proud of them or that blue is a nice color on them. Giving compliments is always something that came really easy to me and is something that can change someone's day entirely. That's why I do what I do… I seek to uplift women and help them acknowledge the gifts they (or their loved ones) offer the world. I created my company to share that love with others and to fund my other passion–educational equity. 5% of all my sales goes to the Compliment Scholarship Fund, supporting students in my community who have the potential to break their familial cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse through education–they just don't have the means.
How did you get into jewelry design?
It started when I was probably 8 and my grandma would take me to the bead store. She'd buy me beads and I would play around until I strung together a necklace or a bracelet. I started wire wrapping rings as a hobby and so I'd have an accessory to match all my outfits. I wore them to school and students always commented on how cute they were. Soon I was giving them as gifts to my friends. When one of my students asked if I could make her a ring to match her homecoming dress, and was willing to pay her hard earned money for it, I thought maybe I should get my designs online.
What makes your collection unique?
Everything is lovingly hand-made, but the most unique thing is the packaging. Every piece of jewelry comes with a personalized “compliment” inside of the box. Many people choose to buy these as gifts and get just as much of a kick choosing the compliment as they do the actual piece of jewelry. My designs are sparkly and chunky and get noticed. Plus because there's some emotion to each piece, I think women feel really happy wearing them… kind of as a reminder of the part of their personality that was affirmed when they opened the box.
What are your inspirations?
Artistically, I get inspiration from fabrics, paint swatches, and vintage book covers. I like mixing colors of a similar palate and I like figuring out color combos that complement each other in my beading designs. Personally, I am inspired by my late grandmother, by Mason Jenning's music, by author Brene Brown, and by practicing yoga with my incredible yogi, Ping.
How are you making a difference in your life?
I am making a difference in my own life by getting out of my comfort zone and putting my whole heart and soul into being a creative small business owner. I'm on a sabbatical from the classroom this semester because I needed a break. At the beginning of May 2012 my husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore after 3 years of trying to get pregnant. We worked together at the same school where we were once both students. So I packed up my classroom, moved schools, got an apartment across town by myself, and took the business he said I wasn't any good at with me. Between May and November of 2012, we lost three immediate family members in my very close, tightly knit Italian/Maltese family. It was a terrible year. Hence, the sabbatical this semester. I'm committed to making the next chapter of my life one that I can say I did everything I wanted to. I'm traveling, I'm committed to the health and well-being of my physical, emotional, and spiritual self. My goal is to learn and grow each day. Part of that growth is devoted to my business: I know I have a great brand. I'm gathering a pretty substantial following in Sacramento and I'm learning things so so different from what I'm confident about… I was an English major, for gosh sakes! I don't know about inventory and spread sheets! I just know about stuff I think is pretty and what makes me feel happy! So this opportunity is one that I'm embracing and loving and the time I'm afforded on sabbatical is exactly the grace I needed to really learn how to fly on my own.
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
This is so ridiculous, but I have an uncanny memory for song lyrics. Like it's crazy good. I tried out for the game show “Don't Forget the Lyrics” a few years ago and made it through 3 rounds of auditions! I got a call back for an on camera try-out and when they asked “how can we market you?” I answered, “I'm a teacher! I'm a singing high school teacher! ” They said, “Oh shoot, we just accepted a teacher. Anything else? We need something different.” And I didn't' know what else to say! So I didn't get on the show. But let me tell you…. my friends laugh. 80s love songs and 90s rap are my best genres. Think Phil Collins and Peter Cetera meets LL Cool J and Salt n Pepa. Yep. I could probably be an astrophysicist if I could purge all those song files in my brain and make room for, er, astrophysics, but, what can I say? It's a gift? hahahah
What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business?
In the last two weeks I've learned that I have two big struggles (and this is why I enrolled in the Academy!)
- Turning visits to my website/FB page/etc. into purchases. (It's gotten better in the last three months, but I've put in ungodly hours into marketing and social media, which brings me to my #2)
- Time management. The first two days of my sabbatical I was on my computer from 8-4 and realized when my stomach started growling that I had not yet showered or eaten all day. Not ok. I'm used to my whole life being scheduled into six periods and bells to signal when it's time to move on to the next task. I've never worked from home, so this is very new for me.
I am a high school English and AVID teacher by day and a jewelry designer and writer by night. My passions are to educate and create. I believe in doing good, spreading love, building relationships, and finding beauty in balance. I'm proud of my MFA in creative writing, I love hot yoga, I seek to continually grow in spirit, I adore my family. I live in Northern California.