Everyday Epiphany… Embracing the Gift of Fall

I find that I’m always a little down the week after we turn back our clocks. When that sun begins to fade, I feel like my energy fades right along with it. I can’t help but feel like my day is “gone” when it’s only 5pm. However, I think I’ve figured out a little trick to help me make light of the change: switch up my routine in very small ways. I made a few little changes to my evening ritual to help me embrace the increase in nighttime hours.  For example, I’ve replaced the streaming daylight through the windows with soft light from fancy orange, red, and yellow candles. I’ve replaced my lemonade with spiced apple cider. Tiny things, I know, but they’re making a difference. After all, I do love fall. I just needed to stop looking at the whole thing as if someone “stole” my summer and instead look at it as if someone “gifted” me fall. 

A Look Back: The Flip Side

As many of you know, texture is one part of the Balance Bead equation. The textured back helps prevent the Balance Bead from slipping around because it creates a small amount of friction.

In September of last year, when I was just beginning to manufacture them, I hadn’t figured out a way to build the texture into the mold. Therefore, I had to hand “scratch” the back of each one with an engraving tool. That process was very labor intensive, and it prevented me from achieving a uniform look from bead to bead. And let’s be honest, it wasn’t very pretty!

By November, I’d created the first mold with a textured back. The mold was created from a hand-textured piece, so although I could now achieve uniformity from piece to piece, it still didn’t have a professional look. Also, can you see my meager attempt at branding on this version? I engraved “BB” into the piece for the first time.

In February of this year, I had a CAD (computer-aided design) model created based on my handmade design. The computer was able to achieve a level of precision my little hands could not. And check out the branding at this point: a real logo! I was pretty happy with the look of the back at this point and stuck with it for the majority of this year.

This month, I finished my newest batch of Balance Beads! Although I was happy with the previous version, I wanted the design to be just a little bit cleaner. See how the edge is smoother? The texture dots are more uniform? The logo is cleaner? I was able to achieve that by creating a revised CAD and using a metal mold (as opposed to a rubber mold which had previously been used).

You may also notice that the surface area is slightly greater than it had been in the past. Well, that’s a story for a future post!

Mixing It Up

My friend gave me this beautiful Jewel Kade necklace for my birthday. Typically, I like to match my Balance Bead with my chain: silver with silver, gold with gold. But this time, because of the gold "a" on the silver charm, I decided to mix it up! Cute, right?

Interested in getting an initial necklace for yourself? You can find it here!

“Balance. It’s yours for the taking.”

Not surprisingly, I love the theme of the most recent issue of Best Friends magazine: “Balance. It’s yours for the taking.”

Some wise words from the editor, Mary-Jo Dionne:

Balance isn’t just a hip 21st-century buzzword thrown around by meditation proponents. Balance, like oxygen and water, is a cornerstone of our well-being. The quality of our lives depends on it. And as I navigate the road of new motherhood, I am reminded daily that pushing the pause button on the demands we put on ourselves means pushing the play button on life. Recently, I was driving to a commitment, and I stopped at a roadside farm en route to feed the goats, with my toddler’s hand in mine. That day, I made a memory I will cherish for a lifetime. And proved to myself that old dogs really can learn new tricks (even if it means I am that “old dog”.)

**Best Friends Animal Society is one of our favorite philanthropic organizations. They’re the force behind the “Save Them All” campaign & the “No-Kill Los Angeles” initiative.

Everyday Epiphany… There’s No Need to Rush

I just saw an ad for ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, the aisles in Coscto are all set up with Christmas gear, and I recently caught myself looking online for unique gifts. What?!? It’s mid-September! Yes, time certainly does fly and I realize that the holiday season will be here before we know it, but there are so many wonderful things to focus on and enjoy before Christmas gets here.  There’s Halloween and Thanksgiving, and plenty more depending upon your faith. And there are many, many funny ones as well. Did you know that today is National Cheeseburger Day? I didn’t until five minutes ago but I certainly plan to celebrate it! I don’t want to think three months ahead. I want to enjoy today. So how about celebrating this particular day in our lives? I’m going to throw myself a little cheeseburger lunch party!  What will you do to celebrate today?

Everyday Epiphany… What a Difference a Year Makes

Labor Day weekend of last year, Balance Bead made its first public appearance. I set up a table at a local craft fair down by the pier in my hometown of Huntington Beach. My goal was to test the market—to see if anyone would be interested in my little idea. Granted, my extremely supportive friends all told me the idea was great, but I had to see if anyone outside of my circle would think it was great enough to purchase.

I’ll be honest: Balance Bead wasn’t a runaway success. Tons of people visited the area that weekend, but person after person passed by my booth barely making eye contact. But I made five sales! No, five wasn’t a lot compared to what my colleagues earned that weekend, but it meant that five people understood my idea and were willing to spend their hard-earned money on my product.

I exhibited at a few more craft fairs over the next couple of months. Over that time, based on feedback from customers and colleagues, I improved my product, improved my packaging, improved my display, and improved my pitch. At the last craft fair before Christmas, I sold ten times what I’d sold on that first weekend.  I still didn’t come close to earning what my colleagues earned but I knew that Balance Beads were going to be in many Christmas stockings that year and that was success for me.

As I approach Labor Day weekend and begin preparing for the holiday season (gasp!), I can’t help but reflect upon the year since product launch and wonder what’s in store in the months to come.  No doubt there will be changes to the product line, changes to our communication approach, and so on and so on. Business, like life, is and endless cycle of learning and redirection. And the only way we learn over here is through feedback from you, so please be in touch. Let us know what you’d like to see from us in our second year of business.

Here’s to a great Year Two!!!

Oops! Mariska Hargitay's Clasp is Showing!

Caught the stunning Mariska Hargitay's clasp showing on Law & Order: SVU! She's so beautiful, I wish I could have caught a smiling shot but hey, it is SVU after all.

Don't forget, if you happen to notice a clasp showing on TV or in a magazine, please take a snapshot and send it our way. We’ll put the pic in our gallery! (Wink, wink... We love to give "thank you" gifts when our friends help us out!)

Behind the Scenes: A Little Experiment

Do you own an adjustable-length necklace? If you do, you know that when you wear the necklace at a short length, you end up with a piece of chain hanging down the back. While this isn't an issue I'm personally familiar with (I didn't own an adjustable-length necklace until very recently), I've learned from others that the extra piece of chain can be very aggravating. It moves around a lot and tangles easily. 

I've received several requests from our customers for a Balance Bead with a clasp on it. They'd like to take a Balance Bead and attach it to the end of the extra piece of chain to weigh it down and keep it from moving and tangling. So I made a few prototypes and sent them to the customers who requested them. Our latest product testers! The formula? One Balance Bead + two jump rings + one clasp. Can't wait to hear from them and find out if it works!

Fun little bit of trivia... Did you know that one of the earliest Balance Bead prototypes included a clasp? It was made out of a fishing sinker, a jump ring, and a clasp. It wasn't pretty and it rolled around more than I liked, but hey, you've got to start somewhere!

Everyday Epiphany... A Good Problem to Have

The past month has been crazy. Beyond crazy. My house is under construction and a major leak was discovered under the living room floor, my job has me working until the wee hours of the morning, my best friend just moved away to a different country, and so on. I was doing fine for a while, just going through the motions, but it all caught up with me yesterday. You know how it goes. The tiniest thing brought on a flood of emotion.

But after I’d shed a few stress tears, it occurred to me: these are all good problems to have. Yes, I have a valid problem with the leak under the house, but I wouldn’t have a leak if I didn’t have a house. And that leak is being caused by the beautiful pool that sits in my backyard. Yes, my work is causing me stress, but the stress is due to the fact that people are giving me business. Business that I love. Yes, my best friend moved away, but it happened in an era when people are connected no matter how many miles separate them. And she’s having the adventure of a lifetime, which brings me tremendous joy.

On the days when all I can see are my problems, I need to remember that these are pretty good problems to have. They all stem from blessings in my life. And as they say, you need some of the bad in order to appreciate the good, right? So after the plumber leaves and I finish my work tonight, I think I’ll take some time to put my feet in that leaky pool and flip through my friend’s most recent adventure pics!

An Overwhelming Show of Support

Wowwww! Balance Bead launched on The Grommet about 48 hours ago and the products are now backordered! I’m completely overwhelmed by the support of Grommet’s customer community. They were so engaged and encouraging on the chat board, and based on the fact that we blew through inventory in such a short time, they are clearly willing to give Balance Bead a try. I’ve packaged and sent a new shipment to them with another on the way. Working hard but couldn’t be happier or more appreciative!!!

Breaking News: Balance Bead & The Grommet!

We're very proud to announce that Balance Bead is now being featured on The Grommet! The Grommet is a unique online retailer that features "products with a purpose invented by people with stories." I've been a longtime Grommet fan so you can imagine how excited and grateful I am that Balance Bead caught their attention. If you haven't yet checked out the site, I highly recommend doing so. Truly unique products! 

On product launch day, The Grommet opens up a chat board on the product page where visitors can ask questions and receive responses from the "Maker" (in this case, me). The board is only open for a few hours so please visit me there from now until 3pm PST/6pm EST. I'd love to hear your questions!

This is a huge step for us. Tremendous thanks to all of our supporters for standing behind us! And of course, thanks to The Grommet team for their faith in us!