Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wonder Women Wednesday

So Becky and I wanted to blog more, but we needed ideas. I suggested we ask each other questions every Wednesday and then blog the answers. Becky was worried she wouldn't be able to come up with any good questions, but we both agreed that all we had to do was be curious.  You know... like... things  we WONDER. Thusly, Wonder Women Wednesday was born.

This week I asked Becky: What job did you have that you would never want to work again? 

Read her answer HERE.

 Becky asked me:  How was Ruby Willow born?

I actually wrote the answer to this question about a year and a half ago for a blog that was hosting a giveaway of my jewelry.  But it's never been recorded here so I'm glad for the chance to flesh out the story a little bit.

My jewelry making career started during the Christmas season of 2008.  We really wanted to participate in all our usual gift exchanges but we were really short on cash that year.  I've always enjoyed making gifts, but I'd never taken on the challenge of making every gift we would give.  But that's what I did.  For the ladies on my gift list I decided to make jewelry.  But I didn't have much money for supplies so instead I bought a couple of tools from the Dollar Tree and a spool of copper wire from the hardware section of Fred Meyer.  And then I dumped out my jewelry box and started taking pieces apart.  I mixed and matched elements until I had a necklace for every woman I wanted to give a gift to.

These are the first necklaces I made.  They were given to Noah's kindergarten teachers.  Well, everyone seemed to love their gifts and  pretty soon my friends and family members started calling me up saying things like, "So-and-so saw the necklace you made for me and she wants one just like it!"  I really had a lot of fun creating and re-purposing jewelry so I spent some of my Christmas money on nicer tools and some real beading supplies.  

I chose the name Ruby Willow after a funny conversation with my husband. I told him that I just wanted a name that sounded pretty and represented me but not in an obvious way like "Jeana's Jewelry." So he started saying things like, "You have big hair. How about Big Hair Jewelry!" From there it evolved into a parody of The Song of Solomon. "Your teeth are like a flock of goats. Goat Teeth Jewelry! Your lips are like red rubies. Your hair is like a weeping willow. You are a Ruby Willow." I was laughing so hard but through that laughter, Ruby Willow was born. 

I opened my etsy shop in January 2009 with a handful of really bad pictures.  But my friends and family were faithful and  they bought my stuff and spread the word about my little business.  Holly, a friend from church, invited me to join her and her sister-in-law, Shelly, at their booth at Newberg's Old Fashioned Festival.  I only had a few pieces to sell but I remember what a thrill it was to have a total stanger purchase one of my necklaces!  I was like, "Wait?  You like my stuff?  And you're not my mother or mother-in-law?"  It was very encouraging.  After Miles was born I was able to purchase a nicer camera and could take clearer photographs of my pictures.  I was also learning all the time about how to improve my shop and how to run a small business out of my home.  

 In 2010 I made my first Nest Necklace for a friend who had just had twins.  The Nest Necklaces became hugely popular and I started getting more and more sales and more and more attention on Etsy.  It was then that I decided what the purpose of my jewelry business was: To make beautiful, relevant, affordable pieces of jewelry. It's important to me that each design reflects some element of nature. After all, I am only a creator because I was created in the image of The Creator. I want my work to be a reflection of His. With three boys I often feel the need to have something girly, so I also work hard to make each piece soft and feminine. But my deepest desire for my jewelry is for the wearer to feel beautiful wearing it.

My little business has grown slowly but steadily.  In fact, this year, Ruby Willow paid for all of our Christmas expenses! I am so very thankful to have a job that I love.  And for the friends and family who support me in it.  And that I didn't have to name it Goat Teeth Jewelry.

Do you have a small business?  How was it born?  Or if you don't have a small business, what would you love to create to sell?  You can leave your answer in the comments section, we'd love to read them!

Be sure to head over to Becky's blog to read her answer to my question.


  1. I don't have my own small business, but I love yours! :) And I am so happy to support it! :) And I love being your friend. :)

  2. If I had a small business, I would sell things I knitted, or pictures I took, or stories I wrote. I will keep practicing!


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