in which I start a business: learning to create in the midst of grief
I started dreaming about a little business while Florence was still alive. When Teddy would nap frequently throughout the day, I would sit with Florence and string and restring necklaces. I can barely remember what it was like. The memory seems to be escaping. Her, looking over at me when I showed her a new necklace design. Her sweet, angelic smile and giggle. And then, she’d go back to watching her show until I called out to her again, mostly just to say, “I love you!” I wish I could replay it over and over. I wish I could relive it.
She inspired my creativity. She inspired everything good.
Around the time I was getting ready to launch my business, Florence started to get sick.
Needless to say, everything went on hold. Life, as we knew it, went on hold and then, it finished. The former life, full of the glory of Florence, was over. Her memory is alive, her fragrance still lingers on her clothes and blankets, but she is no longer with us.
I pushed my business aside. How could I ever do anything, ever again? How could I eat? Let alone, cook? How do I get dressed and smile? I remember the first time I practiced smiling. I missed the way it felt on my cheeks. The gentle tugging … I forgot how good it felt. But, I had no energy to smile. Even smiling at my son felt wrong, like I was betraying her.
But then, a little life came back. Around the one month mark, I felt different. The early, heavy days of intense grieving were slowly, slowly lifting. I felt a desire to pour myself into my business. I started to have energy and a creative drive. This drive kept me up late into the midnight hour. I think it was a mix of determination, grief and creativity. It pushed me, on and on and on.
So, I launched Mama Gems. And it’s been full on ever since.
I make functional jewellery for women. Some are true teething necklaces, others are in disguise. I wanted to make functional jewellery that all sorts of women could wear. Whether they were mamas, nannies, servers, tree planters, bakers or writers.
- unique bohemian inspired designs made to be loved by women
- breakaway clasps, so the necklaces pop right off the neck in one piece.
- strong eco-friendly nylon cord.
- nontoxic, food grace, BPA and heavy metal free silicone beads.
- beautiful wooden beads treated with local, organic beeswax and coconut oil.
- sweetly scented juniper wood pendants.
I spent weeks searching for bits and bobs and unique wooden beads and custom silicone beads and interesting cord colours. I looked at all my current non-kid friendly necklaces and began recreating some. I took inspiration from some of my favourite bohemian designers. I wanted Mama Gems to be recognizable and unique.
In the SMA Awareness collection, you’ll find necklaces named after some very special little girls, like Florence, Nella, Auni, Charlie-Anne and Finnegan.
You’ll also find the Never Give Up. mama and kids necklaces. When you purchase one of these NGU necklaces, $3 is donated to the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation.
Mama Gems has become a wonderful distraction for me. On heavy days and during those quiet nap times, I know I have something to look forward to. Orders to fulfill, designs to create, people to connect with.
Pieces of me that I never knew existed have come alive. When Florence passed away, I thought I might never have the energy or grace to create anything beautiful ever again.
I felt like my creative, wild and free heart had shrivelled. I watched my baby girl succumb to a disease right in front of my eyes. We wailed and swore and sang as she left this earth. We knew it was her time, but it was terribly painful.
How could I ever make beautiful things and write with the same hands that cradled her lifeless body?
Ah, but grace. Grace comes in like the tide. It won’t sweep away the rubble. It won’t clean up the mess. But it will ebb and flow and eventually, smooth out the sands. I won’t conquer my grief. But I will learn to live with it and, even thrive in the midst of i. Grief can either push you down or push you up.
I invite you to come and see what I’ve been up to at www.MamaGems.ca
I’m based in Canada, but ship worldwide. All necklaces are handmade by me.
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