2019 was a pretty tough year for me. It was one that included struggling with keeping my values in mind while working at a job that was destroying my soul and failing my first paper in a degree where I had flown through 22 other papers. These situations I was working to cope with converged into one week exploding in mid-October 2020.
I had handed in my notice at a job that I had given everything too for 19 years, but had apparently got the date wrong, and ended up having to work out my notice 1 week longer than I expected. This meant my law exam was scheduled for the last day of my job, and the next day was my sister's wedding. Hence, when I failed that examed, I was horrified, shocked, but quite frankly, I should have been expecting it.
But now, 6 months on, I'm learning how to thrive in my new position, and I recieved the most rewarding gift I had been working on for 2 years - Strength Within was accepted as a stall holder at the General Collective Lifestyle and Design Market, 22 March 2020 at the ASB Showgrounds.
Here's some questions from the General Collective, and why I say "never give up on your dreams":
What were the customer pain points your product range was created to address?
My yoga studio had beautiful crystal malas available for sale. But I realized the prices were not accessible given the monetary pressures faced by families. Crystal Malas are a luxury, but can allow us to gain a connection to the magical world of crystals and their meaning. I felt there was a better way to provide more affordable beautiful crystal malas that made a difference in peoples lives, including working towards social sustainability sourcing of the beads. Today, we can buy products from anywhere in the world, often paying a ridiculously small price for things. Why is it more important than ever to support NZ businesses and creatives? We live in a globally accessible environment where everything can be shipped to you from the other side of world. Who made that product, under what conditions do they live, and are they well treated while making that product? When you buy local, you get to meet the person who made your product, and know that each sale makes a difference in the sellers life. What do customers tell you they love about your brand, your products or you?
I believe our customers love buying local, from someone they can trust. Also, the products they are buying have a social sustainability connection attached to the beads sourced in India. When we buy from big businesses we don’t always know who made the product – who makes your products and is there anything special about where or how your materials are sourced? I handmake the crystal bracelet and malas in Auckland, but the Sandalwood, Rudraska and Rosewood beads are sourced from a charity in India that supports the Widows of Vrindavan, who give food, love and jobs to widows who are blamed for their husbands death and ostracized by their families. Over the years Strength Within has been moving away from all crystal malas to increase the support given to the Widows of Vrindavan, and our customers have really appreciated the change. Tell us about your creative space – where are you located, where do you create and what is special about it?
I don’t have much space at home but my husband has set up a tool chest and cabinets in our lounge which holds everything I need to create bracelets and malas. A loyal customer who likes extremely tiny 2mm facetted beaded bracelets has meant I’ve added additional tools such as a magnifying glass with LEDS lights to improve the creating process so I don’t go cross eyed while making the tiny bracelets! Who have been your biggest supporters along your creative journey?
My biggest supporter has been my husband. When I’ve doubted that I had the creative capacity (and time) to keep going, when working a very busy full time job, he would always remind me why I started and what the social sustainability aspect of the business does for others. I also some have amazing friends and customers who support my products consistently, and its so wonderful to have that connection. What do you enjoy about being part of General Collective?
I spent the first year in business viewing the photos from General Collective markets and found the stall owners and General Collective markets set the bar high when it came to putting their best foot forward. I spent the second year working to improve the quality of my products, product photos and product collateral in an attempt to improve so I could be considered for being a part of General Collective. Now in my third year of business, I can’t put into words how excited I am to be a part of the General Collective.
Never give up on your dreams