I thought I would share my story......
Growing up, my mom was (and still is!) very crafty. She did large craft shows selling her crafts. I fondly remember being at many shows with her. I loved looking at all the crafts and was amazed at what crafters could do!
When I was a kid - I don't remember the age - I had a purse that was pink with a unicorn. (I collected unicorns back then!) It was filled with all different colors of beads and stretchy string. I made bracelets mainly. As I got older I got more into music and really didn't make jewelry for years.
I went to college for music, then switched to psychology, then to human services and eventually to Legal Studies. (After all this time I have my Paralegal Certificate and I am only 1 class away from a bachelor's degree!) I moved to Lancaster, PA and I found my bag of beads and started making jewelry again. Then I started to find all the different beads available and I got hooked.
Actually, before finding that bag of beads, I started making bath and body products. It started as gifts and then I started selling on eBay. (This was before Etsy was around.) I made jewelry and the bath and body products. Then I realized my true love was making jewelry.
The jewelry I make has grown and changed a lot over the years. I started with simple stringing with pretty beads and now I rarely actually string at all. I've had a pretty strong influence for reusing materials and recycling from my dad. We actually started recycling long before it was required. (My parents actually do not have garage service since they hardly ever have any actual garbage. Don't think hoarders here, they are not! They are just very responsible.) I started to learn more about what is happening to our planet and began to get concerned. I decided I needed to do something about it.
So began my upcycled jewelry. Yes, I use upcycled materials in my jewelry whenever possible, but it's also meant to make it easier to start a conversation. Someone compliments my jewelry and it gives me an opening to talk about the importance of preserving the planet. My hope is that my customers do the same.
I am just one person and I am making a very small difference, but I think if everyone took some small steps, it would make a huge difference!
I have been doing craft shows for a few years now and opened my own retail space within Building Character December 2008. (If you're not familiar with Building Character, it's like a market for art, artisans and antiques. There are over 30 vendors with their own booths, wall space, etc.) I also have expanded to some different retail spaces around Pennsylvania (and even in Chicago!)
I feel like I've come a long way....and I plan to go even further in the future!