I’m excited to announce the first official IAYB sponsor: Charmed Jewelry Design! You’ll see the Charmed button ad on the right sidebar, and in this introductory post and giveaway, you can learn a little more about the inspiring woman behind the company. Lori, the designer and business-mind behind Charmed, transformed a personal health challenge into an opportunity to find her calling. Read her story below.
And if you’d like to enter a draw to win a beautiful Charmed wrap bracelet, answer the following skill-testing question in the comments section: How has your life been charmed? Enter before 11am EST on Friday, January 20, 2012 and I’ll draw one lucky name. Bonne chance!
Tell us about your relationship with jewelry – how long have you been making it, how did you learn how to do it?
I have been creating jewelry for two years now and have been selling it for almost a year and a half. I am self-taught. I’ve always been creative and drawn to art and design – I’ve learned how to refinish antique furniture, create tile mosaics and do graphic design along the way to creating jewelry. When a friend of mine received a wrap bracelet from Israel for her birthday, I fell in love, but couldn’t find anything like it. So I decided to try and create something similar for myself while I was very ill and needed something positive to focus on.
Where do you find the materials (the silk, Japanese fabrics and leather, as well as the charms) for your bracelets?
My materials are sourced all over the world. I spend hours online researching new charms or fabrics to use. My Japanese chirimen cords are imported directly from a fabric maker in Japan. My silks come from several vendors, all in the US. Each ribbon is cut, stitched and dyed by hand. On a recent trip I discovered some beautiful pieces on a tiny street in Istanbul. They were so popular that I plan on traveling solely to discover materials unique to the region.
My love for life is all about awareness and gratitude that I am, indeed, alive. That is the energy I try and put into each piece of jewelry I create. I use traditional spiritual symbols and meaningful stones. My jewelry is not only meant to make the wearer feel beautiful but also to become aware of the blessings in their lives. A bracelet that has an amethyst that symbolizes love, for instance, can evoke an awareness of the love we have and long for in our life.
According to your bio, you started making jewelry while you were “recovering from a sudden and life threatening illness.” How did you rebuild yourself after such a loss? Why do you feel charmed?
My brush with death occurred in the summer of 2009. I had a routine tooth extraction and the next thing that I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit on life support and all sorts of tubes and wires hooked up to my body. I was so ill that I don’t remember what happened after the extraction, but apparently I became delirious and stopped making sense. At the same time, my face began to swell until the point where the swelling was cutting off my breathing. I was rushed to the emergency room where in the course of the next few days they performed several surgeries to try and save my life. I was unconscious and in a coma for several days and according to my family, there was a time when they and the surgeons were not at all sure I would make it through.
In the midst of this, I somehow could feel that I might die. Even though unconscious, at one point, I could feel myself drifting further and further away. But, there was another energy present. I could feel the power of those praying for me and I truly believe that saved my life.
For the next year and a half, I experienced a mysterious chronic infection that resulted in additional surgeries. I lost part of my jaw, several teeth, and now have partial numbness near my mouth. As a type of therapy to stay positive and constructive during my illness, I began to design and create my first bracelets. It was during this time that I truly learned my craft.
Out of tragedy has come a huge blessing. I discovered my calling and am now living my dream. I sell online as well as in boutiques and galleries across the US. Charmed was even chosen to be included as part of the gift bags given to celebrities at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards this year.
This experience is why I feel that I am ‘charmed’. Not only did I survive a life threatening illness but also am blessed to have a blossoming business that I am passionate about. And on top of all this, I get to share my passion and love for life with everyone who wears a Charmed Design piece.