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,