Scarfpin Collection at Evanston Stitchworks

Since my foray onto sewing I have been eager to incorporate fabric into my wax and wire designs too. The Ladybugs with fabric scraps are holding up well. Then a few weeks ago while popping by Evanston Sticthworks Amalia asked me about making scarf pins. I had already designed a safety pin for a friend, which was well-received.

I sat down with that design and made a prototype for Amalia to test.

Then the pin-top got dremeled and filed a bit to ensure no one pokes themselves.

We both like the result.

I was given a lovely array of fabrics to experiment with.

Last week I sat down and created a bunch of clasp-y designs.

I freewheeled with Brenda’s Now That’s a Jig! pegs, not anchoring them to her jig but just wrapping shapes by hand.

Then I added the fabrics that wanted to be paired with the shapes.

Each type of fabric has its own reaction to heat and wax, but on the whole the designs worked.

I delivered 7 pins to Stitchworks on Tuesday, and a customer already called dibs on two!

We arranged them on a lovely hand-knit sweater.

The prototype goes beautifully with Amalia’s hand-knit scarf.

I also prototyped some stitch markers and got feedback on which ones Amalia thinks are most useful for her purposes, so I have some homework to do!

Exacto knives don’t work well with warmed waxed fabric, so I got some special scissors to use on the next designs.

There is a plethora of other fabrics to make pins out of, and lots of different wire designs to experiment with!

Evanston Stitchworks offers a wide array of artisan designed fabrics, great sewing patterns, hand-dyed yarns and all the knitting supplies you need with those.

The store is located at 906 Sherman Avenue in Evanston and offers a variety of excellent workshops as well.

Can you pick a favorite out of these lovely fabrics?

They’re all so lovely in their own way, even if I say so myself.

I’m excited to add more to this collection, and figure out the stitch marker assignment too!

Trunk Show at Ayla’s this weekend

Whew, I thought 2 weeks between shows is a long time, but there is still a lot to be done by Saturday.

When I went to the Bead & Button show in June I stopped by Ayla’s booth first, and was promptly stickered by Joe.

At that time, we made plans for a trunk show, and August 12 & 13 felt so far away. I optimistically purchased some large hole pearls for the occasion. Fast forward one eventful month and I am wrangling wire like crazy, with idea after idea piling into my brain.

My aim is to make sure I am using beads sourced via Ayla, so I went through my inventory list, and I’ve attended quite a few of Ayla’s bead shows over the years, along with visits to the store itself with friends.

I compared the inventory dates to my visual archives (photos snapped after each shopping spree) and set those beads aside in my jewelers bench.

Soon I had ideas and matched papers to my designs.

The last batch came from Kina’s Trunk Show, and I started with those first.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vintage beads I bought from Ayla actually fit the 16 gauge wire, and had fun stringing those.

I waxed the pieces, with the cage versions being a bit more challenging than the others. The etched jade also fit the thicker wire, and I am glad my friend and I shared this strand last summer.

Ayla’s store has many beads that can be strung directly onto the steel wire for a swinging bead effect. David Christensen creates a gorgeous array of glass beads that I have had in my collection for a while. This pendant will get some matching earrings too, though whether that happens by Saturday is still a question mark.

Ayla’s Originals offers freshwater pearls, Czech glass, Swarovski crystals, antique trade beads and gemstones from all over the world. If you see something you love in the store this weekend, I am happy to design a piece if you aren’t interested in creating your own.

In 2016, Ayla’s Originals received an official proclamation from Evanston’s Mayor for the 20th anniversary in Evanston. The store’s history is longer though.

Two decades ago, Ayla was a Director of Human Resources in corporate America. She frequented a bead store to take her mind off her waning passion in the work she was doing.

After a few workshops, Ayla began designing her own jewelry. The bead store owner was retiring, putting Ayla in a position to take over the store’s lease after resigning from her job.

The Ayla’s Own jewelry line was soon featured in the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum Gift Shops and well publicized. In 1998 Ayla’s Originals moved to Sherman Avenue in Evanston.

The store offers classes, private lessons, and private party options. The store offers a wide array of You Are Beautiful merchandise as well.

You can get a bingo card for special discounts on future purchases. Ayla and her husband, photographer Joe Pizzo, reside in Evanston.

Ayla’s Originals Store is located at 1511 Sherman Avenue in Evanston. Hours are: T,W, F: 10 am to 6 pm; Th: 10 am to 7 pm; Sat. 10 am to 5 pm; Sun 12 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays.

I will also be bringing my stakes, which are getting additional siblings this week.

There is so much more to make!

A Rare Custom Dirndl

Earlier this year I joined a women business owners’ Facebook group that introduced me to Rare Dirndl.

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I was intrigued by Erika’s fresh take on Dirndls, and when she had a sale, I decided to check out her storefront on 5051 N Lincoln Avenue, as my cousin is about to have a Dirndl wedding in Bavaria.

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Billing herself as “more than your Oma’s Dirndl,” I was drawn to the modern and whimsical twists of her designs that I perused on Instagram

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Taking her quiz on Dirndl style is super fun.

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I borrowed a lovely traditional Dirndl from my cousin several sizes (and hairstyles) ago, but am not sure her collection will still fit me. So I took the plunge and got my own Dirndl fitted by Erika.

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We picked colors and she set to work. A few weeks later, I got a lovely fashion board with my new Dirndl. Erika offers numerous tips on Dirndl fashion in her newsletter  and publishes Ausgezeichnet with German related news and resources.

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A quick trip near Diagon Alley brought me back to the shop to try it on. 

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I love all the details on it, and that in addition to a ribbon Erika gave me a chain to tie around the bodice.

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I’m looking forward to the wedding even more now!

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Maybe I’ll make custom accessories too.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ana’s Wonderwoman Cuff was featured in Creative Beading.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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NEW at Good Dog, Better Art

June’s Wine Women and Wellness will involve some canine therapy, of the visual kind. We will gather at Sidetracked Studio, a brand-new Evanston-based gallery co-owned by artists Lauren Levato Coyne and Rory Coyne in partnership with collector Michele Mahon Jahelka.
Good Dog, Better Art is a Group Exhibition to Benefit Trio Animal Foundation, featuring the work of 16 canine loving artists.

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If we were to bring along our furry friends, they might be more inclined to look at portraits of their counterparts than their humans, according to a study by Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki) and referenced in Science Daily.

Conversely, numerous studies attempt to validate the attribution of human behavior to dogs, and continuous to keep scientists engaged: “This search for common psychological processes in humans and dogs has been motivated by the fact that humans and domestic dogs have shared a common environment and similar selective pressures for tens of thousands of years.

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Anthropomorphism-the attribution of human characteristics to animals, deities and objects has been around since ancient Greece: “humans are predisposed to perceive shapes, sounds, and other things and events in terms of human form or action, both in unconscious thought and in the conscious thought to which it gives rise.”

“Over the last 100,000 years, the social environments
of domestic dog pups and human children
have become more and more similar to each other,
and less like those of either species’ closer genetic kin.
It is as a consequence of this intense cohabitation
that dogs have come to emulate some behaviors
that are commonly viewed as uniquely human,
such as the recognition of another’s attentional state.”
~ A Review of Domestic Dogs’ (Canis Familiaris) Human-Like Behaviors

A study of domestic dogs identified several traits that are quite indicative of a small business owner as well. These include: ‘Playfulness’, ‘Curiosity/Fearlessness’, ‘Chase-proneness’, ‘Sociability’ and ‘Aggressiveness’. Like small business owners, all traits were found in all dogs, though to differing degrees and with differences between different groups of dog breeds.

On Thursday, June 25 we will gather from 6 to 8 pm at 707 Chicago Ave. in Evanston to discuss the merit of these traits as business owners and for our canine companions.

NEW Co-Founder Karen McCormack owns a Belgian Malinois, a German Shepherd breed. “I’ve always had rescue dogs, usually the breed is a guess,” Karen said. “I’ve also had a couple of golden retrievers when my kids were small because they are well known to be gentle and tolerant.”

Our hosts own a Husky and a Great Dane, both rescue dogs, who inspire and support our resident artists at the studio on a regular basis. NEW Co-Founder Maike spent her teenage years with Labradors, and is the aunt of 2 mixed breed rescues (a shepherd chow and a pitbull-bordercollie mix).

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Good Dog, Better Art is a benefit exhibit for Trio Animal Foundation with up to 25% of all sales going directly to the Foundation. Matching funds will be provided by Apple, thereby doubling all donations.

Trio Animal Foundation is a woman-managed 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists shelters, rescues and individuals by paying the medical bills of homeless pets. Trio specializes in taking in severely abused animals, and is responsible for numerous happy endings of animals that had essentially been fated to suffer agonizing deaths.  TAF also promotes adoption and responsible pet ownership, including spay and neuter.

Good Dog, Better Art is on display through July 4 and includes art work by: Brian Busch, Stephen Cefalo, Cesar “Nono” Conde, Rory Coyne, Teresa Elliott, Candice Groot, Jason John, Robin SoloKill King, Lauren Levato Coyne, Daniel Maidman, Keelan McMorrow, Jason McPhillips, Gail Potocki, Ellen Jo Dahlberg Roberts, John Walker, and Aaron Westerberg.

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In addition to the works for sale, Sidetracked Studio will also accept donations on behalf of Trio Animal Foundation for the duration of Good Dog, Better Art. Sidetracked Studio is located on 707 Chicago Ave. Evanston and open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. All other hours by chance or appointment.

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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.

Photos courtesy Sidetracked Studio.

My amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Spring has returned to us, gradually revealing earth and grass under the thick blanket of snow and ice we’ve lived with for the past month.

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I’m eagerly exchanging my snow boots for regular shoes, and the goose down coat is going back into the closet. Instead I get to wear my cheerful She Wore Blue coat that I ordered from Hello Holiday in 2013.

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I love the fit of this coat and the cobalt blue suits my complexion quite well, if I say so myself.

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It’s been fun wearing it out and about and taking it along to art fairs. Compliments abound when I wear it, continuously validating this bold color choice.

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The details of it make me happy too, and remind me of a childhood rhyme about a coat with buttons of gold.

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It also makes a lovely background for scarf pendants.

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Hello Holiday recently opened a brick and mortar boutique in Omaha, Nebraska, and whenever a road trip takes me there I look forward to having a try-on party.

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painting by Jason McPhillips

Meanwhile, I scour the online shop for fun additions to my closet. The Daisy Chain Dress is a summer favorite.

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Each package is wrapped with care and makes delivery day feel like a birthday. I returned one dress that didn’t suit my body type, and it was easy-peasy to ship it back. That refund paid for the coat.

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Co-owners Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik are inspirational in their own right.  I enjoy following these entrepreneurial women on social media and vicariously engaging in their joie de vivre. They’re true leaders within their community, supporting Omaha’s small business community and making it sound like a great travel destination. Follow Hello Holiday on Instagram and check out their lively Facebook page.

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Everyone would have clothing that make them feel like a fashion model!

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Blog title derived from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

Inspiration from Amy Lee Segami

“When you have a deep, deep passion in you heart
and in your bones and in your soul,
it never goes away. It just isn’t time yet.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

On a snowy day this February my friend coaxed me out of the house to go visit an exhibit at the Evanston Public Library. While I have been aware that the library hosts exhibit, it took a non-Evanstonian to point out to me that this is a monthly occurrence. Amy Lee Segami’s work was up through March 7, and she held a talk explaining her inspiration, background and process.

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Her exhibit “Frozen Dreams” was inspired by how as a girl Amy had to put her dreams on hold, or ‘in the freezer” as she said. Her father wanted her to be able to support herself and steered her toward studying engineering. She moved to America to study at IIT, and did become an engineer.

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Over time, however, Amy decided to de-frost her dreams, and started studying Suminagashi. In this technique, black ink is dripped into a container of water, and an image transfer created by placing paper over the resulting image.

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Amy perfected this technique for years. “When you master your craft, you work on it day in, day out. Ideas come about.”

When she felt comfortable knowing the technique for white ink on black paper, she started adding colors to her palette. By using brushes, feathers and other tools to manipulate the ink, she creates the foundation of the image she wishes to create. However, like life, Amy says that she has an idea of what the resulting transfer will look lie, yet is open to it changing based on the movement of the paper on the water.

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She sees art and life as a balance of competition and collaboration. Competition can inspire people to excel and to lead, but it takes collaboration to achieve consensus. There is no point in fighting water, she said, so she has to collaborate with it.

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Even though she has perfected her technique, Amy still has to create many transfers before she has the piece she is happy with. Describing the motion like a dance, she said the transfer has to take place in one breath. “There is no moment like this moment now.”

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Amy waited until she had an international show to tell her father about her career change, and he fully supports her success. She credits his pushing and cajoling with giving her the security to establish her career, emphasizing that our past shapes us and it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Amy also emphasized that we have to count ourselves in to our life paths. We are the masters of our own destiny, and we cannot forget who we are.

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I won a poster during a drawing, and you can get your own prints here.

“In every situation you face, always count yourself.
Your opinion, your perspective, your presence matters.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

People photos copyright and courtesy of Final Draft Business Support Services.

Brainstorming at Aurora Rose

This week I picked the warmest and sunniest day to make my way to Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont and freshen up my inventory (look for the earring and pendant sets next time you’re there).

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It was nice to come out of hibernation and be inspired by the creativity of the other 40+ vendors who have spaces here. These seashell flowers by East Coast Shells make me feel quite beachy.

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The boutique has just announced its first monthly trunk show, which will be held on the fourth Saturday of each month. The calendar of in-store vendors presenting at these shows is filling up fast. You’ll be able to get to know the vendor, place custom orders, and learn about their creative process.

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The first trunk show will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 111 Stephen Street, Lemont with MoJo Re-Creations, a mother-daughter team  that creates purses, wallets, gloves and hats out of used garments. I have my eye on their Pixie purses, which beat designer labels in quality, uniqueness and price, and look forward to placing my customized order in the near future.

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At last week’s Tea Women and Wellness event my cheap department store gloves almost gave me frostbite getting into the below-zero car, so I immediately gravitated toward the felted mittens made from old sweaters and lined with fleece. My fingers are now toasty warm whenever I venture outdoors.

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Butterduck Farms is next on the trunk show list in March, and their lip scrub and balm is healing my peeling smile as I type this.

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Owner Kim Peters and I brainstormed events and promotions for 2014, which promises to be an exciting year for our customer base. My trunk show will be in June.

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You’ll find lots of gifts with heart at Aurora Rose Boutique this February, including my heart-shaped pendants that are all $5 off until 2/28. Kim received my ‘Write’ pendant for Christmas.

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Keep up with Aurora Rose’s Facebook page to check their opening hours in this shifty winter weather. If you’re too far to make the trip look at their inventory online and see if Kim or Amber can make shipping arrangements with you.

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Warming up with Tea in Geneva

“We each have gifts and we should explore them.”
~ Flying for Hope

Last week a few fired up ladies braved the cold to warm up to tea, entrepreneurial inspiration, and some ecochic shopping at NEW’s Tea Women and Wellness event.

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Our energetic attendees included holistic wellness experts, charity founders, storefront managers and technological innovators.

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Shari Ralish introduced us to three of her favorite blends: Smokey Chai, Peaceful Synergy and Romance. We also had snacks to complement the teas.

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As we gathered in the circle, we learned how each woman reinvented herself from a wide variety of backgrounds, and were inspired by the vast amount of ideas and occupations in the room.

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“It was very inspiring
to hear of all of the new business adventures taking off.
I was also very impressed with all of the women
who braved the cold and showed up ready to talk business and network.
Very professional.”

~ Peaceful Parlour

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Of course we couldn’t resist shopping Shari’s fabulous eco-friendly, locally bought and fair trade products, which includes children’s toys that don’t require batteries, earth friendly home goods and decor, and energy clearing items.

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With National Hot Tea Month in full swing, the tea accessories were abundant as well, including the hand-blended teas to fill them with.

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Shari also offers energy healing workshops, such as Feng Shui for Romance on February 9, followed by a Downton Abbey inspired Jewelry Show that day, Animal Communication on March 22, Crystal Singing Bowls on April 22 and regular psychic medium readings.

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It was a wonderful evening filled with numerous dates for future connections, and we look forward to our next Meet & Munch on February 12.

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Hats were not required for this tea party, but the ones in Peaceful Parlour are quite adorable.

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“Memorable experiences are
when you go to places that are different from the rest.”

~ Geneva Smiles

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Photos by Maike’s Marvels and NetworkHoncho.com

Shop unique. Shop local. Support artists and artisans.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. We have to face that Thanksgiving kicks off a commercial craze that is hard to ignore.

While I am spending time in gratitude for my family, others are lining up at mega-stores to get the latest gadget at a discount price. What I personally don’t get is why someone would stand in line for hours for something that is mass-produced. It’s not like the stores won’t restock before Christmas.

As I immerse myself further in the handmade and artistic market, I see the blood sweat and tears that go into creating unique pieces, one-of-a-kind works of art that will not repeat themselves in the exact same form again. So here’s my roundup of those artisans, whom I support, whose art I own or have wishlisted to own.

  • PerficalSense Studio will host an Artful Giving Holiday Sale with pieces from the Salon Show and additional local art works during a Wine & Cheese Opening Friday, November 30,  6 to 9 pm, or Saturday, December 1, 10 to 6 pm, Sunday, December, 2, 10 to 5 pm
  • That show will include items from fiber artist Danny Mansmith
  • Alexis Oritz offers ceramic pieces
  • Vitruvian Fine Art Studio is offering Gift Boxes for the holidays, including a Gift Certificate for any drawing or painting class at the studio, and select drawing or painting materials for the class – all bundled-up in a festive holiday package!

If you’re looking for jewelry (other than mine, of course):

  • Rebecca Zemans offers lovely sculptural pieces
  • Suze Weinberg hand-beads necklaces with unique finds
  • The Pieced Together Artist offers bits and baubles to create your own jewelry with
  • I’ve got a bridal bouquet trousseau I’m hoping to send Princess Lasertron’s way someday (even if I pull a Sue Sylvester and marry myself!) but she also offers brooches and pins and other cute felted items

For a bigger budget and those looking to adorn walls, I recommend one-of-a-kind art by the following:

Got a sweet tooth?

  • Chicago Chocolate Tours offers a perfect sampling of fine chocolates while touring Chicago neighborhoods. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
  • The Sugar Path bakes wonderful cupcakes and pies I have sampled at various WIN events. They’ll open a storefront in Geneva, IL soon.

Not everyone makes things, of course, and I also give props to these solopreneurs and entrepreneurs whose services are tailored and customized for you, and whose storefronts consist of hand-picked items intended to make your life easier.

  • Also in Geneva, Peaceful Parlour has handpicked environmentally friendly and unique products for your household
  • Ten Thousand Villages offers fair trade creations by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East
  • Hello-Holiday has me revising my clothing budget to incorporate their joyful inventory of vintage and retro style dresses, tops, jeans, shoes and accessories into my wardrobe
  • ThriveYourTribe helps small businesses create an online brand presence with design and copywriting services

What local shops and solopreneur ventures do you recommend? Let’s support local, hand-made, and small ventures, shall we?