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Creating Community not Competition

There is a beauty in lifting others up, even when they are technically your "competition." Let me just tell you that this is something that I have been completely blown away by in the year of Covid! For every person refusing to mask up to potentially keep others safe, there have been others selflessly willing to share their sourdough starters or their Netflix account login, and tips for growing your small business. Over the year, some creatives were discovering new outlets with others returned to creative outlets of their past or perfected their craft.

A little history here, Pre-covid, I was working as a pastry chef and the next thing I knew my restaurant had closed, I was out of a job, and had adopted a new title of Mrs. Mommy for my daughter's remote learning. I turned to making small celebration cakes and hand decorated cookies for people from my home (check out my page Mad Batter Treats on Instagram).

During this past year, I also rediscovered my love for making jewelry. I have been making jewelry since I was a kid, and a few years ago I put my Etsy jewelry business on hold to focus on my baking career (okay also due in part to the horrible gemstone spill of 2018 that took me ages to reorganize. My basement floor still sparkles on occasion). Here's what I learned: you shouldn't abandon things that you love. Duh, right? This is especially true when the creative process is a huge part of your self care. It falls into the concept of work life balance, and if you love it, you have to find a way to balance it. I've always found that my creativity is strongest when I allow myself to follow my instincts and trust the process. For me, this means allowing myself to be myself (crazy concept, I know) and do both jewelry and baking. We are multifaceted human beings - why is there this pressure to choose one career for the rest of our lives?

Maybe I'll go into this more in a future blog post, because right now I want to get back on topic and pay tribute to the freaking amazing community of makers and creatives. Since I have gotten back into jewelry making, I have (virtually) met so many creatives that are just killing it! But the thing that has blown me away is that these incredible individuals are proactively sharing their skills, their experiences, essentially the secrets to their success. There are four** that really made an impact on me personally. I have seen artists sharing in-depth process videos of their work, as well as sharing inspiring words of encouragement with fellow makers. I have jumped at the chance to learn from the dynamic duo of small business owners who said screw you Covid as they created an entirely new marketplace for makers to showcase their handmade goods. And I have taken a class to learn about the jewelry business from another badass woman small business owner willing to share her insight and experience.

Each of these inspiring individuals are like beacons of joy and hope lifting up others to share in their sunshine. Creativity is not competition, and the more knowledge that we share with our fellow artists and makers, the more empowered our community becomes. If I may share a sentiment shared by all - there is room for everyone. So go and create something!

Rachel xo

**Follow the links above to the Instagram accounts of the awesomely talented individuals I spoke of. Just to give a name to them, they are as follows:

-Melanie Brauner, Paper Jewelry Designer & Artist

-Monica Little (Owner of Plant Based Beauty) and Anna Romo (Owner of Virtue Alchemy Candle Co.), Co-Owners of Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop

-Laura Kitsos, Owner, Buyer & Designer for Gem Jewelry Boutique

Rachel Erceg, Artist and Owner of Rachel Renee Jewelry

Rachel Renee Jewelry is a collection of Luxe Bohemian designs, delicately hand-crafted with semi-precious gemstones and metals. Chicago-native artist, Rachel Erceg, infuses the organic stylings of art nouveau with the timeless intricacies found in naturally occurring gemstone formations. This approach of pairing brilliant stones against the contrast of rustic, textured metals captures a distinct design with each piece. Rachel Renee Jewelry offers wearable art that is as one of a kind as the individuals they adorn, and makes the wearer's inner beauty sparkle.

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