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New Chapter!

New Chapter!

It's funny when I think back now... to how this little venture (adventure) all began. I wonder how many other people have started out the same way and yet I know that the path that I started on is not the one that will take me to where I want to go. And so... that means changing things up a bit. 

It all started with one box of about 200 beads. Some were metal, some were glass, some were probably plastic. They were all from a large craft store, as was my very first beading book and I thought to myself... "I'm tired of paying premium prices for jewelry that everyone else is wearing... so I'm going to make my own." Seemed simple enough, right!? I had the supplies, a how-to-book and a burning NEED to create something. Well - it wasn't so easy after all. I HATED everything I made! The necklaces and bracelets were "too amateur-looking", "not polished", "boring", "too-out-there"... (the list of negative comments was endless). I was embarrassed at first to even admit I was wearing something I made with my own hands because it just didn't seem good enough. Depressing!? YES! But then suddenly I started getting compliments on these "amateur-looking, unpolished and boring" necklaces and bracelets. People thought they were unique, fun, beautiful, and unlike anything they'd ever seen before. And yet... would you believe that critical little voice inside my head turned all that praise down! "They're just being nice to me..." or "Maybe I got lucky with this one".... Oh the self-deflating talk that occupied my head. I know I'm not alone here... hands up if you have that little voice too!

Then one day a friend of mine invited me an open house shopping event at her home. Something she hosted every Christmas for friends and neighbours and it is a way of her supporting those in her circle that have their own craft or art. I was shocked, nervous, and very reluctant... but with her reassurances that my lonely 12 pieces would be perfect for the event... I went. 

And you know... it went exceptionally well! Many of the compliments (and purchases) were made by complete strangers! They weren't just being nice to me after all! Again - people commented on how "different" the pieces were... and then some of the people even commented on how the jewelry made them FEEL. I think that was a big turning point for me and I realized that my creations weren't about perfect design or symmetry or being perfectly polished (that's the jewelry that's overpriced in the stores that everyone else is wearing)! My jewelry was about the story they could tell, or the memories they could hold... our how they could make someone feel. And with that... I was sold on my own idea. I just knew this venture/adventure was my joy and I needed to follow it with all my heart.

And so - I started fighting back against that little voice. I started coming back to it with "I don't want it to be perfect" and "this is more than JUST jewelry" and "stop comparing yourself to mass-produced junk that's sold in stores". And in that new space that I created in my heart and in my mind... I found a place of acceptance for what I was making every time my hands went to work. A crazy experience started happening... it was almost like someone else was pointing to the perfect beads and tapping me on the shoulder to inspire a new design idea. Sometimes I'd spend hours creating a piece and not even remember how it came together (why so many of my pieces are one-of-a-kind... I couldn't replicate them if I tried!). Whether my pieces sold or not... it didn't matter. A little bit of my heart and soul would go into each of my creations and it was more about that expression than it was the acceptance and approval of others. 

But soon I ended up with a lot of jewelry... and I also had a lot more interest from others in what I was doing. I also just happened to be finishing my MBA at the time and taking courses on new venture development. Putting two and two together happened without much effort! And so... KEMBA Designs Inc. was established. Why "KEMBA"? it isn't an original story... but it's all I've got! "KE" are my initials... "MBA" were my latest credentials. My late father-in-law came up with the combination and I haven't looked back since!

So fast forward four years or so and that single box of beads has grown to be a full sized studio with likely a few million beads. I've tried just about every type of jewelry design technique out there and I'm working on improving all of them (a never ending journey)! I don't do it full time, but there is a dream of doing it more than I am now. I've started an off-shoot project with my sister called "A Circle of Angels" in memory of our Dad. I've often joked that maybe Kemba was merely a stepping stone to just get me to the "Circle" (it's become a huge part of who I am)... but I think there's more out there to be discovered yet. This will be the new chapter of my story!

I've been working with a friend of mine to help create a photographic story of my Kemba pieces. Today is HUGE for me as we are launching my first ever "Kemba Designs Ambassador Search". I've always had a hard time asking for help... so this is a big step... but I now need a few supportive ladies to help showcase my jewelry so that I can then start professionally promoting my business. 

Please do check out our Facebook page for the details and stay tuned for updates. I can't wait to see what's around the corner and I hope you'll join me in finding out!

Sending light and love,

K

xx

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FMM #fireangel Project

FMM #fireangel Project

After a year of working on our Circle of Angels project, we've become pretty nimble when it comes to just "making it happen" when it comes to unexpected (large) projects. In a way I think we are always on the ready - just in case - there is a reason to place a massive crystal order, gather a handful of volunteers and just get making angels. News of the recent and most tragic wildfire that ravaged Ft. McMurray this month set us into this sequence of events in no time. As people were being evacuated (all 80,000 residents)...we were designing our special little "regrowth" angel that was to symbolize all of that and more. We knew the crisis was just beginning, but our project is largely about instilling hope. We wanted to be at the ready with a little symbol for those impacted by the fires - to let them know we, like so many Albertans (and Canadians, for that matter) were going to be there for the rebuilding. 

And now - fast forward a few weeks - I've just made the largest mail out of angels in our project's history. Seriously - the Canada Post receipt was over 2.5 metres long! We've already raised over $2,000 through this impromptu project and we'll be splitting these dollars between the Ft. McMurray SPCA and the Salvation Army. It's been a flurry of activity...a wee bit of stress...but as always...so rewarding too.

So here's the thing... we know this little project is a mere drop in the bucket. Two thousand dollars is really lost when you consider all the funds that have been raised by the collective efforts of Canadians. Some might ask..."why bother?"...and to that we will always say..."because we can". If you can help someone...then you must. Kindness is not measured in terms of size of acts, but in terms of frequency and sincerity. It is a way of being - and if you're just going to be that way, then when an opportunity presents itself...one MUST act in any way that they can. Really...we didn't do that much. We simply provided the tools, supplies and venue. It was our 15+ volunteers that made the magic happen. It was CTV News Edmonton that came all this way to share our piece of the story. It was the MANY individuals that ordered an angel or two (or TEN) because the story touched them in some way. Once again - life is showing us just how we are ARE stronger together.

I'm very near finished our Circle of Angels homepage...and more stories will be available there very soon. KEMBA has truly just been the original spawning place for the angels to launch from, and yet it has become an integral part of my little company's mission...to pay-it-forward at every opportunity...and create little treasures and story-tellers that make a difference...no matter how small. #albertastrong

Cheers,

Kristen

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Giving From a Place of Gratitude

As we enter into the season of reflection, giving thanks, and celebration (yes, Christmas is right around the corner!) I've been thinking about how this year could look different. Our Circle of Angels Project has grown in spades since we launched in March. I'm so grateful for all the support we've had with it. Truly - there are no words to describe how much it means to us! So from this place of gratitude, I've been asking myself how we could give even more. How could we up the ante with our pay-it-forward project? Wouldn't it be amazing if we touched a few hundred people's lives this season with our little angels and all that they stand for? I hope you'll be a part of the Circle's efforts - and to make it a little easier, I'm pleased to announce a couple of new options for purchasing the angels.

First of all, we no have a "Pay-it-Forward" project where for $15 (small angels) or $18 (large angels), you will receive one angel for you, and an identical one will be handed out to someone else in need. We'll make an event out of it and sometime in December, we will go out and distribute these special pay-it-foraward angels to people who might need a lift. We are open to suggestions as to where we should hand them out...maybe at local hospice units? To cancer patients? Kids at the local Children's Hospital? Homeless shelters? Other ideas? It would be magical to have a hundred to hand out and we will photograph/video the hand outs to then share the story back with all our supporters. 

Our section new option is a complete angel ornament set - just in time for Christmas. We will have both the large and small angels already hung and packed to go - 12 different colors for the large size ($144) and 11 different colors for the small size ($110). They are vibrant, sparkly, and loaded with special meaning. I can't think of a better Christmas gift for a loved on. All proceeds (as with ALL our angel sales)...which is approximately half of the cost...are donated to Angels Anonymous, The Alberta Cancer Foundation, and the Lupus Society of Alberta. Don't miss out on this limited collection and we may run out quickly - so order early! 

Sending light and love to you all,

K

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The EPS Angels Project

They say that it often takes a tragedy for us to realize just how blessed we really are. Well - if that's the case then I hope we never again forget just how much our valued first responders mean to us. Many of you will have heard of Constable Daniel Woodall with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). Very tragically - he was killed in the line of duty on June 8th, 2015. Our city has come together in such a way over this loss - that really - it seems true that compassion and kindness can heal. Our streets are lined with blue ribbons as a tribute to him, his family, and our EPS members. Children in schools have been making artwork and cards for police officers. Strangers have been coming together to bake cookies and cupcakes to share at the police stations. Just today at the scene of a minor car crash, we saw people in their cars roll down their windows to reach out and shake the hands of the officers directing traffic. It's enough to inspire anyone - and certainly fills one's heart with hope, love, and gratitude. I'm so very proud to be and Edmontonian - especially in light of this tragedy - and in light of the coming together of our community. So - with that inspiration, and in the spirit of paying forward kindness - which is what our Circle of Angels is all about...we decided to take on a massive project that would see an Angel made for every single member and volunteer of our EPS. We did it! Mission accomplished on Friday, June 19th, with the help of some amazing 50 or so volunteers, donations of space and food, and well - a whole lot of love and gratitude. Now - we are working to raise donations to help put towards the cost of our supplies and to also donate some cash directly to the Woodall family. Our goal? $5,000. We're about half way there - thanks to a lot of individual donors, as well as a few large corporate donations. The largest of all came in today...from CGI Consulting for $1,000. If we get to $3,000 - we have another corporate donor willing to throw in another $2,000. Absolutely incredible generosity being shown and we are somewhat overwhelmed with the response we've received so far. Great support from our media as well, including CTV News (see video here) and CBC News Radio Edmonton. You're awesome!! So thank you #yeg - for helping with everything that has gone along with #EPSStrong and our #CircleofAngels project. It's been magical! xx

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Our Angels - An Update

Have you ever had that feeling of joy, excitement, sadness, and hope all at once? We I have been feeling all of that and more these days - watching our Circle of Angels project take flight. On March 1st, 2015 we my sister and I launched this little project, not really knowing where it might go. We knew we had a handful of supporters from our friends and family, and we had hope that it would reach a lot of other people...but so far, we've been amazed with how this concept is carrying on. We've had over 1,100 people join our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ACircleofAngels), sold just under 50 Angels (almost $300 going to charity), had another interview with CTV News Edmonton and a radio interview with Mix 107.9 FM. I've received so many messages from people around the world that want to share their story or express a little thank you for our FB Circle. Really - we couldn't ask for more, but this response is so encouraging, we're just going to keep moving it along and take it as far as we can. I'm realizing more and more just how many people feel alone and isolated in their grief - whether it be from the loss of a loved one or another major life event. That's just not OK in my books. We all walk the same journey, albeit along different paths...we should be coming together to support (and lean upon) one another in our times of need.  Continuing with paying forward all the love and support we received when Dad was dying - we hope that this legacy project will help bring people together. So thank you dear friends - for your support, your encouraging words...your FB shares, your Angel purchases, and for just showing up and being a part of something so special. We're still missing Dad greatly just now (it's only been 3 short months since he passed) and you have all helped us in our own healing. What greater gift could there be? xx

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It's a New Day

It's also a New Year, and I'm excited (and maybe a little curious) about what 2015 will hold. Those of you who have been along side with me on my jewelry-making adventure will know that KEMBA has evolved slowly since 2012, and I typically follow a rush-lull-rush-lull pattern in creating new pieces. That's the rhythm of life! Many of you will also know that we were rather preoccupied with caring for my Father over the past couple of years, who just recently lost his battle with brain cancer. It's been a long, hard road, but it was a blessed experience that I'll always be grateful for. Not only for the precious time and moments shared with family, but also because an entirely new chapter has started because of Dad's journey - our "Circle of Angels". There's lots of information to be found on the site regarding this new project and I really do hope we can get as many people involved as possible. I truly believe that we can help others - help each other - by coming together for a common cause. If you are going through your own tough time just now...no matter if it is a sick relative, a broken heart, or even a sense of being lost in your own life...please know that you aren't alone. There is always someone out there that will hold your hand, lend a shoulder to cry on, and help you. It is this beautiful thing called our human spirit. Together we are stronger, but we must all take that deliberate step to reach out - both to help and to accept help. It is only then that we can truly realize just how strong we can be. So - with that - I ask you...what do you have to offer? Friendship? Random acts of kindness? Patience? Experience? What to you need? Any of the above? Well, please share your thoughts here - or on our Facebook page. Don't forget to check out our Angel story - and please become a part of our "Circle of Angels" too. We're here for you with good vibes, well wishes, and a listening ear, but please know that you're needed too!! 

Always,
K

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