Small Business Saturday is nigh

Normally I do a gratitude post this week, but I honestly feel that Thanksgiving is every day.  There is so much to be grateful for on a daily basis, even and especially on the days when life looks bleak.


So instead I’ll tell you what I’m excited about, and that is my very first Small Business Saturday pop-up.


Small Business Saturday is November 28, and I’ve been invited to be part of a lovely collective. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I will be at Rebecca Marie Photography at 5254 N Damen Ave in Chicago. Hosted by Noktivo, a lovely green nail salon, and Made Conscious, this pop up features a variety of earth-friendly goodies.


Made Conscious is a curated collective of the most ethical and sustainably sourced and produced lifestyle products on the market. They bring brands directly to conscious consumers through our pop up series. On Saturday you can sip on a local beer by Metropolitan Brewing and enjoy a complimentary manicure by LVX. The first 50 shoppers will receive a Shop Small Swag Bag filled with holiday treats, goodies and surprises worth $100+ from our sponsors!


Tracy Hurst was my second bellydance teacher (after Sonya of Arabesque) and I met her during the inception of Metropolitan Brewing. I’ve followed her path and supported her in a tiny way by buying the occasional six-pack. Her bottles make for excellent bangle mandrels,


Noktivo has pampered my hands and feet sporadically since February, when Hip Circle Studio invited me to a ladies’ afternoon out. While the fingernail polish doesn’t last long, the massages and lotioning during a session are important for my wire-bending muscles.


I’ll be vending alongside a variety of earth and body-friendly wares:

Fashion will be represented by BlissJoyBull (Organic Apparel and Handbags) – Chicago, IL.  I am eager to learn more about each of these businesses, and look forward to trying Metropoliton Brewing’s latest flavor. It should be a fun time!


Next week I’ll be setting up another pop-up at See Jane Sparkle’s old location. They’ve moved to a bigger store near Dempster and Chicago (where Lollie used to be), and I get to display my pieces in the smaller boutique throughout December.


There are lots of Small Business Saturday events going on, so if you cannot make it out to mine, go check out the ones in your neighborhood. Get to know your local retailers. They need your support, and you don’t have to buy something every time you go inside a store.


Studio Time

Here’s a peek at the studio.


I’m busy replenishing my angels and frosties inventory for Small Business Saturday.


You’ll find me at Rebecca Marie Photography at 5254 N Damen Avenue in Chicago from 10 to 5 on November 28.


I’m also gearing up for a pop-up at the old See Jane Sparkle Location, which will open December 2.


I also have the pop-up at Blue Buddha Boutique, so keeping up inventory is important.


I’m excited about all the new pieces and have more ideas than hands and hours to make them in.


So many thoughts!


Getting them dressed is fun.


Dashes of color everywhere.


They’ll look so nice on a tree.


Mark Small Business Saturday on your calendar and be sure to support your local stores.


My fellow Small Business owners will appreciate it!

Fun at the Wilder Mansion Holiday Market

The Wilder Mansion Holiday Market was a lovely event. The drive to Elmhurst was bright with scenic Fall colors.


The Mansion is impressive.


I can only imagine what it must have been like to live there in the stately rooms with beautiful crown molding, fancy chandeliers and gran fireplaces.


Unloading was in full swing when I arrived, but I was the first in my room on the first floor.


I unloaded my car and then drove to the designated parking area at Elmhurst College.


The short walk was lovely.


Soon my wares were all set up, and I was able to take a peek at the other rooms, which weren’t fully set up yet.


Everyone’s art work is so inspiring, and I wish I could have shopped a little.


I bumped into a vendor from the Ravenswood ArtWalk and one I had recently met at a Ravenswood Women in Business Chamber event.


There was jewelry made from broken china-both antique and more current.


Across the room a real loom was being used for more lovely bags.


We were provided some sustenance shortly before the doors opened, which made me feel well cared for.


Soon the doors were opened, and streams of people started walking in.


My first sale was to a friend, but that garnered more sales as the evening went along, which made me very happy.


I celebrated with some prosecco.


Before we knew it it was time to cover up our tables and leave the building for the night.


I splurged on a hotel room nearby to save me the stress of driving late at night and early in the morning.


I was thinking I would have a cocktail and snack at the bar, but the ‘bar’ was a vending machine.


So I settled for beer and popcorn and made myself at home upstairs.

cocktail hour

My sore feet recovered sightly during a bath, and I read a little before sleeping fitfully in a strange bed-next to a freeway.


The next morning some sad news made it hard to prepare, but I put on my bright yellow dress and shifted into vending mode.


To start we were provided a lovely spread of breakfast foods and coffee.


Then we all uncovered our tables.


I uncovered my table and once again the minute the doors opened we had a steady stream of attendees.


Within the first hour I sold 4 ornaments, and more sales kept coming.


To cover fair expenses and make some extra money was a very validating experience.


I did a little shopping with my neighbors.


Traffic continued to be steady during the afternoon.


I think most people did well.


Then the doors were closed and we started tearing down our booths.


I still love my handy bag, and it was surreal to only fill my ornament box halfway.


The weekend sales filled me with contentment, and I am grateful more pieces have found new owners throughout the month.


My next pop-up will be on Small Business Saturday on Damen Avenue.


I’m heading to the studio to replenish my ornaments for that event.


It’s custom order time!

’Tis the season to place orders, falalalalaa-lala-lala.


My waxed ornament inventory went from this:


to this during the Wilder Mansion Holiday Market.


I am thrilled the angels and frosties are gaining popularity, but for you regulars it means that if you want to gift these to your loved ones, you need to contact me now.


I’ll be bending and waxing for Small Business Saturday before Thanksgiving.


After Turkey Fest I will be popping up at a yet-to-be announced location (you’ll like it!) along with replenishing Blue Buddha Boutique stock and preparing for the Bucktown Holiday Market.


That’s a lot of studio time spent on non-custom orders, so get yourself penciled in while you can!


I’m printing out a variety of holiday songs and verses that inspire me.


I’m happy to learn that Love Came Down at Christmas is in the public domain, since I was introduced to it via Jars of Clay. I’ll adorn some angels with that poem by Christina Rossetti.


Last year a friend had me create birthstone angels and frosties with the name of her grandchild and the year the ornament was gifted. Such a fabulous idea.


The colors were specified by grandma based on her family’s preferences.


They also got a note with what each birthstone means.


I can also incorporate logos into a design.


My double-heart frosties sell out each year.


This cutie went to celebrate a young couple’s first married Christmas together.


Of course you’re not stuck with angels and snowmen. I have plenty of alternate options available too:


So put your thinking cap on and consider your family’s favorite holiday songs, verses, quotes, colors and aesthetic, and let me know if my ornaments are a match for their tree!


You can poke around my past posts for additional inspiration.


Etsy’s inventory updates will be sporadic, so follow me on Facebook to get previews of my latest creations.


Evanston’s new Collage Cafe

There’s a new cafe in town, The Collage Cafe!


Lindy Stockton opened the storefront for a sneak peek during Open Studios Evanston.


Since then, she has carefully curated gift items and creativity-inspiring products for adults to celebrate our inner artist.


The store has a plethora of greeting cards, pendants, wall decor, candles and decorative household items to cheer yourself or your loved ones up.


The Collage Cafe formally opened in September and has since hosted numerous workshops, including book binding and journal cover making.


Hopefully Q1 slows down enough for me to take advantage of this nearby workshop space.


Lindy founded the Grown-up Girls Club that allows women to gather every second Sunday of the month for an afternoon of creativity and inspiration.


From 1 to 4 pm, Lindy arranges for a project and provides a fun place to get away from daily chores and spend some quality creative time among like-minded women.


Private parties are welcomed by Lindy, just give her a call or pop into her store to make arrangements.


I’ve already gifted the lovely deck of inspirational cards Lindy created, and am making a wish list for the holidays.


I also have a few of my bangles and pendants in the store.


Those bangles garnered a commission, which was so much fun to create.


So go check out the Collage Cafe, around the corner from Vogue Fabrics at 912 Sherman Ave, Evanston.


Check out the store hours and upcoming workshops and drop-in classes at the web site.


It’s inspiring to see artists open up storefronts and I am excited that Main Street has so many new businesses popping up. It’s an affirmation that I live in the right community of like-minded people.


I’m also impressed by the clear vision Lindy communicates through the aesthetics in her store. Her color-palette and product selection indicates a strong sense of her brand, which my inner marketer appreciates and values.


Jeweler’s Tea on Sunday

This Sunday join me and at least 5 other jewelry artists for an afternoon of new jewelry designs, tea and surprises!


We’ll be hosting a Collector’s Tea on Sunday November 8 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm at Blue Buddha Boutique, 1127 W. Granville Ave.


This event is in conjunction with the Edgewater Artists In Motion Carpe Diem Pop-up Gallery that is open through December 31 in the Lancelot Room.


Sip on tea, listen to the stories of how artists make their jewelry and get their inspiration, and browse all the fabulous gift items we have in the pop-up.


A few more jewelers have joined our pop-up since opening night so there is always something new to peruse.


In addition, you can get your fill of chainmaille wear and other lovely collector’s items made by local artisans in Blue Buddha’s retail store.


AVP Beads will provide you with inspiration and assistance for any beading-related needs.


I am so intrigued by the talent and creativity of my fellow pop-uppers and am excited to learn more myself.

Hedda Designs

Hopefully I’ll see you there!


Elmhurst Holiday Market this weekend

On Friday I’m taking an excursion to Elmhurst for the 5th Annual Holiday Market at the Wilder Mansion.  Presented by Edward Jones Investments, the holiday market includes 60 artisans who have created one of a kind art and seasonal gifts including jewelry, ceramics, glass, scarves, hats, mittens, fashion knits, kid’s clothing,  handbags, photography, painting,  paper items, bow ties, candles, soaps, Irish capes, and gourmet food holiday gifts.


The fun begins Friday, November 6 from 4 to 9 pm and we continue Saturday, November 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. On Friday evening Café Amano will offer wine by the glass for sale. You can also enter a raffle and receive retail coupons. Sponsored by the Elmhurst Park District and produced by RGL Marketing for the Arts, Inc., this event has no admission fee.


The Wilder Mansion and Wilder Park was acquired by the Park District in 1921. Seth Wadhams built a home called “White Birch” in 1868 on the site. It became home to the prominent King and Wilder families until 1921.

The mansion housed Elmhurst Library in 1922. In 1936 the exterior of the building was changed with new pillars and a south wing. The library moved out in the mid 1990s, making the Wilder Mansion a historical landmark that provides an ADA compliant multi-use space for the Park District and community.


Vendors include: Amy’s Cranberry Candy, Big Fat’s Hot Sauce, Brewpoint Coffee, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, Drury Lane Theatre, Edward Jones Investments, Grown Up Kid Stuff, High Hopes, Kilwins, Nothing Bundt Cakes, O’Meara’s Irish House, Ten Friends, Toffee Traditions and Whole Foods.


You will see a wide variety of art forms in the various rooms, including candles by Loralee Ivkovic; and ceramics by: Linda Wagner, Yoshiko Kozawa, Jennifer Meeker, and Amy B. Millspaugh; Fiber arts by Susie Cassel, Wendy Partain, Chris Acton, Peter Gaona, Char terBeest Kudla, Debra Vaccaro, Kelly Desmond, Barbara Keisman, Elizabeth Garver, Kathleen Gaffey, and Sally Papedis.


Nancy Morris and Kimberly Polka will offer their glass creations and Jaimie Cahill will offer metal arts. Jewelers include: Jamie McClellen, Carolyn Chou, Tetyana Fedorko, Daniel Schemel, Julie Matos, Lisa Williams, Karen Gill, Seth Carlson, Charlotte Muzik, Danielle A. Stotts, Claudia Crawford, Liam Hughes, Laura McDonald, Gayle Weiss, Susan Nester. Gail and Dale Horn as well as Denise Riesen will showcase their photography.


In the mixed media category, you will find: Isabelle Belles, Kate Wharton, Joelle McNamara, Maria Jucius, Stephanie Raab, Kathryn Alcock, Donna Zommer, and Megan Manske. Paper arts are represented by Taryn Palumbo, Chhaya Shrader, and Janet Spiech, with Retta Hentschel showcasing her stained glass creations.


I love the sneak peeks on Facebook and look forward to perusing the market and hopefully shopping a little bit myself.

Adaptability, a key trait of entrepreneurial women

“All women adapted to what they were dealt and made it work.”
~ Barbara Joan Zeitz

In early October the Network of Entrepreneurial Women celebrated Crain’s Small Business Week with a lovely gathering of small business owners in Glen Ellyn.


As we perused the menu and got to know each other, Rebecca Sturgeon (LMT, CMLDT) gave us chair massages to relax our muscles and our spirits.


We ordered delicious sandwiches from Shannon’s Irish Pub’s special menu, which nourished us sufficiently to take in all the information disseminated that day.


During lunch, Barbara Joan Zeitz presented several historic women who ‘leaned in’ before Sheryl (Sandberg). Relaying the stories of Rose Knox, Helena Rubinstein, Ida Rosenthal, and Olive Ann Beech, we discovered that women can start careers at any age, against all odds, and thrive.


Rose Knox started a Gelatin business with her husband Charles. The couple refined the time consuming recipe of boiling, straining and clarifying the ingredients for gelatin, and Rose gave away recipes with each purchase. When she was 50, her husband died and Rose took over the business, causing the departure of a male manager. Rose supported work equality by closing the back door so women and men would both enter and exit via the front door of the manufacturing plant. She was  a pioneer in nutrition, test kitchens, labor relations and creating the gel tab.


Helena Rubinstein brought 12 jars of face cream to Australia from Poland at age 24. She settled in a small sheep grazing village but set about selling style and fashion to the local population. Her cream incorporated lanolin that had an awful aroma for which Helena experimented with scents. 6 years later she had a viable business in Melbourne. Helena pioneered the concept that beauty was a new power. She also established professional standards for beauticians, developed luxurious packaging, garnered celebrity endorsements. After the stock market crash she refocused on establishing salons and developed a financial empire that made her one of the richest women in the world.


Ida Rosenthal did not buy into the flapper look, which failed to address more buxom women. Her husband, a sculptor, helped her design a bandeau that would offer support within a dress. When the dresses with these built-in bandeaus became popular, the Rosenthal’s developed the first brassiere by joining the two cups together with elastic. Ida’s husband died in 1966, and Ida ran the multimillion dollar company herself until her death in 1973. Maidenform continues to be a popular brand.


Olive Ann Beech partnered with her husband to establish Beech Aircraft during the era of cross-country air races. World War II called for an expansion to support wartime production, and Beechcrafts became the standard training vehicle for military aviators. In 1950, her husband died. She secured a $16 million loan during the Korean war and expanded her employee base from 2800 to 13,000 that year.  Post-war, Olive Ann focused on space age production in partnership with NASA.


Barbara recounts the stories of numerous other real life heroines in A Thesaurus of Women and her online column: “CountHerhistory”. Her second book should be coming out by the holidays, and will be a perfect gift for your leading ladies.

“Love is what is selling business”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Janice M Faris, Accountant and Principal/Owner of Janice M Faris, EA, helped us to think about how we pay ourselves as entrepreneurs. It shouldn’t just be about covering costs, but also about the lifestyle we want to establish for ourselves and support in perpetuity. She pointed out that even a not-for-profit pays their employees (and some very well), so that being a non-profit has nothing to do with giving yourself a salary.


Jan pointed out that it is very important to make retirement part of that income equation, and to take inflation into account as well. Jan can help solopreneurs determine whether to set up as a a sole proprietorship, whether to incorporate or whether to establish an S-Corp and what the tax implications of each are. She and her partner Peggy Goddeau also take a comprehensive look at all your financial inflows, outflows and help project what you will need in the future to sustain your lifestyle.

“We tend to flock.
We have to make our own path and learn from other women.
Just because there is a path doesn’t mean we all fit onto it.”
~ Jan Faris

We discussed how we can improve our brands with marketing strategist Larvetta Loftin. Larvetta’s L3 Eventeurs provides lifestyle marketing, advertising, public relations, and live engagement events to a broad array of clients. Larvetta had us identify our favorite brands, and made the profound statement that the brands we admire share our customers and clients.


She said that brands that stick to their passion and purpose do better than those who change their business model. It is easy to leave loyalists and brand influencers behind if you do not keep reinforcing your promise to them. Larvetta also emphasized that collaboration is key. Partnering with businesses who share your vision can strengthen both brands. Key questions to ask when developing your brand are:

1. What is our promise?
2. What is our why?
3. What is our influence?

She also stated that branding is not just a logo, and social media is not a strategy, it is a tactic. Branding is a part of marketing and establishes your perceived value. Larvetta enjoys working one-on-one with small business owners to determine their brand and create a strategy with them.

“You can be a small business but a big brand.”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Karen McCormack covered the new guidelines and brackets for health care.  One key change Karen noted is that being a woman is no longer considered a “pre-existing condition”—when previously there was a large discrepancy between health care costs based on sex. Reproductive and preventive care should be free under the new insurance plans. Ageism has also been addressed with Obamacare, no longer penalizing older people for their age.


Health insurance is now standardized into tiered plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum that vary by the ratio of payments to benefits. This standardization does impact some of the networks insurance providers recognize, so it is important to check with your doctor on what network they are in when making decisions. Penalties for not having health insurance are going up, so it is important to take advantage of the current open enrollment period through Januray 31. As an independent insurance broker, Karen can assist anyone with navigating Obamacare 3.0, whether switching from group insurance to personal insurance, setting seniors up with medicaid and assisting small business owners with group plans. Karen is licensed in 13 states.


All attendees went home with goodie bags. NEW will be on hiatus through the holidays, but stay tuned for our charity fundraiser in February 2016.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Some photos courtesy

Ghosts, Spiders and Witches abound

I’ve been spooking up the studio with some wax and wire Halloween pendants.


I picked out purple and orange papers to embellish with rubber stamps.


Then I wrangled some wire to fit the images


I fired up the griddle and covered the paper in encaustic medium.


Now they’re ready to be worn by new owners!


I have three at the Blue Buddha Boutique Carpe Diem! Pop-up and two pendants are hanging out at The Collage Cafe.


The neighborhoods are getting spooky too.


It’s fun to see the variety of decorations on my strolls.


Lots of skeletal animals are popping up.


This one’s been tied to a post for too long.


Hangman takes on a different meaning.


Creepy Crawlies on trees.


In Edgewater the Framing shop has shop windows dedicated to The Raven.


They clearly had fun with this Poe boy from a Poe family.


The other side of the shop has a different scene.


You should definitely take a stroll along the corner of Granville and Clark.


Further along Granville more ravens are present.


Some skeletons are enjoying a party on the porch.


They seem to be a little light-headed.


Were they poisoned?


We’ll be having a costume party at Blue Buddha Boutique on Saturday.


In addition to flappers, witches and ghosts, our Edgewater Artists in Motion pop-up will have some other Kharakters ready for snapshots in a photo booth.


Come on by between 11 and 4 on October 31 and treat yourself to some lovely gifts and inspiration.


Here’s to fun trick or treating, celebrating the harvest, and easing into the Thanksgiving season. Dragonfly Boutique has lots of fun decorations along with other awesome fall items.


Of course you can also buy Halloween Jewelry from Etsy.


Inspirational Women at Blue Buddha Boutique

At last week’s pop-up opening we had a lovely tour of the Blue Buddha Boutique facility and got to meet some fabulous entrepreneurial ladies.


Rebeca Mojica started making chain maille jewelry 12 years ago when she saw a cool belt that she wanted to recreate. She purchased 1000 jump rings that turned out to be 16 gauge galvanized steel, but she persevered and made a belt.


Then she started playing with her remaining rings. At Caravan Beads she learned how to make clasps, and when that teacher left she began teaching classes. On her first day she sold $300 of supplies and felt she was on to something.


She started a web site to let students place orders in February 2003 with the values of creativity, empowerment, community, kindness and chocolate. In 2007 she opened her first storefront, which in 2013 moved to the Granville location.


The storefront now houses 73 artists and ships 30 to 80 chainmaille packages a day from the warehouse in the back to 50 states and 40 countries. We were given a tour of the vast back area of the boutique, where a variety of colors, metals and sizes of jump rings are stored for shipping. Employees gather supplies from pick lists, ranging from bulk orders to project kits that are then shipped.


In the back is also where niobium is colored. The precious metal is placed in a bath that is linked up to cathodes.

Niobium bath

As the voltage increases, the color of the niobium changes, creating a rainbow of colored rings.


During our tour we were introduced to Kathmandu Yogi, which sources meditation cushions, malas and clothing from Nepal. Natasha Casanova’s vision was to bring meditation cushions to retail stores for people to try in person rather than ordering them online.


Natasha’s suppliers who hand brocade the fabrics used in the products didn’t lose their homes in the recent earthquakes but their neighbors did, and the purchase made from Kathmandu Yogi directly support the residents in the disaster area.


Next to Blue Buddha Boutique is AVP Beads, founded by Ana Pizarro. Ana worked at Caravan Beads for more than a decade until they closed.

AVP Beads

In need of a livelihood, she and her sister used a tax refund and credit cards to start a bead store on Elston and Irving Park (3960 N Elston Ave). In July, the second location next to Blue Buddha Boutique was opened. AVP beads is a family business supporting a niece and brother-in-law, who each have roots in Ecuador.

woven beads

AVP offers project tables where you can get help on a beading project you are working on. Ana loves bead weaving but does a variety of beading projects.


Ana’s Wonderwoman Cuff was featured in Creative Beading.


The beads come from all over the world, including nuts and seeds from the Amazon, African glass, precious stones and more.


Blue Buddha Boutique was hosting another pop-up on opening night: Tulia’s Artisan Gallery. Karen Torres named her business after her grandmother. Her mission is to bring Colombian art to the Chicago area.


She sources her statement pieces for the home from a Wounaan family forced out of the Darien rainforest into Bogota 13 years ago (due to territorial conflicts). That family has since built a larger home to support additional migrants and help them get started in a new city.


The refugee community comprises an extended family of weavers, carpenters, and silversmiths.  The family creates baskets and bracelets from palm leaves. They do the hand dye-ing and thread making themselves and it takes one day to do one turn of a basket.


Another women’s artisan group preserves ancestral techniques of the Guane indians of central Colombia. Growing cotton, cleaning, dyeing and handspinning are all done according to tradition and a museum has been established by this group to ensure this art form isn’t lost. Scarves are available via Tulia’s Artisan Gallery.


I couldn’t resist picking up a butterfly clip made from “fique,” a relative of the agave plant.  These are hand made by women in central Colombia who work from home.


We also met the founder of LiftUpLift, an online marketplace for women. Corielle Heath crowd funded her business after realizing there was no marketplace for women owned by a woman. She carefully selects the businesses reflected on the online shopping site to ensure that the work is authentic and matches her mission and vision. We had a lovely time chatting and I am exploring the online shopping interface.


I did a little make and take during the evening and made this lovely keychain pull in 20 minutes.


It looks nice on my purse from the Geneva Swedish Days.

pepped up bag

Pop in to Blue Buddha Boutique and view our Edgewater Artists In Motion pop-up through December. A variety of artists are on display with gift items the whole family will love.

Carpe Diem Mini Poster2 11x17

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