So 2010, what a year! But to fully explain why 2010 was SO amazing for Jewelry in Braille, I need to rewind to 2009.
In January of 2009, I was still a Senior Designer for Lenox- a leading giftware company located in Bristol, PA. Living in Perkasie, PA with my wonderful husband and 2 amazing dogs, it was then that our world moved to Waynesboro, VA, a great town located just west of Charlottesville, VA. The move served a few functions- my husband's job was now in that territory and it got us within 4.5 hours from his kids. The 'plan' (and I giggle now) was to continue working for Lenox remotely- as the majority of my work was on the computer and heck, you can be anywhere to do that, right? So, for the first 5 months or so it was great... steady work and my coworkers were my dogs. Lovin it! As the year continued, work began to slow from Lenox and I thought to myself- why not build a website for my Braille jewelry? At that point it was solely on Etsy and there were a few sales here and there- but nothing in numbers to speak of. So, taking advantage of the downtime, www.jewelryinbraille.com was built by me and launched. Yay!
Through the year I was perfecting my process, figuring out what was working and what wasn't- working on new designs and trying to figure out my next step. That October we rescued Howie- our male Doberman- adding one more to my coworkers! That November was also exciting- I experienced my first 'Christmas rush' and needless to say, the wind was in my sails and I wanted to get out there!
So my New Year’s resolution last year was to start showing my work- finding the venues and audiences who would appreciate the unique styling of yours truly. So, January something, I began researching teachers groups, blind and visually impaired groups like ACB, NFB, etc... The biggest issue I ran into was that many of these websites were not updated and information was hard to come by. Then I found the AER-BVI website... American Education Resources for the Blind and Visually impaired- now you see why AER-BVI flows off the tongue a little easier! The VERY first show that I saw... the VA chapter of AER... the event, Waynesboro, VA- my hometown. Was this a sign or what! Not knowing what to expect at that first event, I made my checklists and thought I was ready for it all- I was not even close to imagining the response. Here is little ol me, with a line 5 deep all day. It was an amazing day, full of meeting some WONDERFUL people and learning at each turn. I got home after the event and just started to cry. Never, in all of my years of being an artist have I felt so deeply connected to the work and seeing the impact of my creations moved me greatly. That felt pretty darn wonderful!
After the VA AER, I attended the PA AER conference- this time with backup- my husband. It was great to be back in PA, meeting many people who either work with my niece or soon will. I attended the MD/DC AER, The National ACB in Phoenix (where I met my first Doberman guide dog!!) and then took a little time off to rebuild my inventory and fill orders to the Museum of Disability History, Independent Living Aids and the National Braille Press.
Then... the autumn.. oh boy... I attended the SC, NY, AL, KS, FL and ME AER conferences... 6 shows in 6 weeks. Exhausting, wonderful and a true learning experience! The shows ended right before Thanksgiving which to be honest was a blur.. Every morning I woke to find my emails overflowing with orders- wonderful emails from customers wanting unique treasures for their loved ones and I was so happy to be a part of that!
2011 is already shaping up to be busy- so stay tuned for updates on that! Please post your comments- I would love to hear from you!