I realized quickly, however, that this hobby wouldn't pay for itself. I decided to try to sell the bracelets I made, and so my Etsy shop opened in April of 2010. It was slow to start, but I began selling bracelets, and my fan page on Facebook grew and grew. But even with the impersonal nature of selling on Etsy (and later my own website) and fans I didn't know on Facebook, the act of making the bracelets never became impersonal for me. Each time someone places an order or contacts me with a custom request, I personally buy the beads, come up with the design and make the bracelet. It is such a fulfilling job!
As with anything, there is always room for growth and eventually it became clear to me that there was a way to help others using my jewelry. People began coming to me and asking for bracelets to raise awareness for various diseases, illnesses, or people in need. I realized that I could not only help someone display her support for her loved one or herself, I could donate the proceeds of the bracelet to a foundation that directly supported that cause. Since starting this endeavor, I've been able to use profits to donate thousands of dollars for many different charities, among them the National Down Syndrome Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Autism Speaks, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Other causes have come to my attention since then, and I've continued to make what I call "Cause Bracelets." Beyond this, I have also hosted auctions and Deal of the Day bracelet specials to help sponsor individuals, families, and organizations in need.
Here are pictures of some of my Cause Bracelets, along with the charity I donate to when each one is sold:
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Bracelet, benefits the National MS Society
Lung Cancer Awareness Bracelet, benefits the American Lung Association
This is only a small sample of the Cause Bracelets I have made. Check my website to see more, or contact me if you want me to make a special one just for you!