Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Treat

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Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Do you remember when you were a kid and Valentine's Day used to mean red construction paper hearts and lace doily cut outs? And little heart shaped candies that said "I Love You" and "Be Mine?" Do you remember the fun you had exchanging handmade cards and giggling over the messages written on those candies?

DIY Gold Foil Heart Box by one of our favorite DIY Bloggers Tell Love Chocolate

For the mommies out there who are reliving this tradition with your little ones, I hope it brings a smile to your face as you walk down memory lane and experience your little one's excitement. That is, of course, if it's possible amidst the chaos of the all the cupcakes to be baked, plastic candy bags to be filled and tied, and little valentines to be addressed and signed. Hang in there, the memories are worth it! Thankfully, because Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, all that craziness is hopefully over and today can be a day of love, at a relaxed pace.

This was Jay helping me make Valentine's Day cupcakes for his class 

Speaking of relaxing, since the start of the new year, I've been learning about ways to be more productive so I can get more done in less time and with less effort. Who out there doesn't want that, right? Well, the most  amazing part of what I'm learning is that to be more productive and focused, you actually have to learn to truly relax. And not just relax, but deeply rejuvenate.

Samantha Silk Kimomo Robe by Girl With Serious DreamLavendar Eye Pillows by Gardenmis
Body Mist Layer Kit by Nature Your Body
Deeply rejuvenating in the sense of increasing the numbers of hours of high quality sleep, taking (or forcing) regular breaks completely away from work and totally unplugged, and creating and following through on a self-care ritual that includes hours of deep relaxation weekly. Like taking a soothing bath or getting a massage for a couple hours.

Organic Rose Leaf Bath Salts by Garden ApathecaryAmber Vanilla Body Butter handmade by Sweet Cheeks Natural
Organic Lavender Candle by Olive Branch OrganicsFrench Green Clay Mud Mask by Garden Apothecary

The idea of relaxing to be more productive is so counter-intuitive that it's hard to get my head around it. It almost sounds too good to be true!  And I often feel like I need to deserve a relaxation break like that. How about you? But I'm personally tired (literally and figuratively) of running around and being busy all day and then at the end, feeling like I got nothing productive done. So I'm giving this relaxation thing a try. Starting today. It's my little Valentine's Day gift to myself.

Rose Leaf Bath Tea by Garden Apathecary

To help me enter into a self-care ritual that includes deep relaxation, I did some searching on Etsy (my favorite place to find handmade goodies by mommies like myself!) I went in search for some simple and natural products that would entice me to stick to my new ritual. And I found these beautiful products made by women who seemed to already share my concerns for health, wellness and relaxation. Each one made lovingly by hand in their homes. I also found a few yummy indulgences that make for a very special Valentine's Day treat.

Coconut Chocolate Truffles by Talk About Sweet
So I invite you on this Valentine's Day, to breathe. Relax. Perhaps run a warm bath using some of your favorite bath salts and breathe in the healing scent of your favorite essential oils. Then close your eyes and enjoy a moment of complete relaxation. Think of 5 things you're grateful for and then totally enjoy immerse yourself in the love that makes up your life. Then repeat. Do this for the next two hours. I too will be trying this out today.

Mommies, if you have to do this after the little ones have all gone to bed, then I completely get it. Just remember to give yourself this time. Relax, rejuvenate and remember to appreciate and love yourself.

Happy Valentine's Day.


P.S. Let me know if this relaxation time becomes a ritual for you, and how it impacts your productivity. I'll be working toward my goals right alongside you and will share my progress in the upcoming posts!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Creative Collaboration: A Giveaway With Belinda Love Lee

Sometimes, when you go looking, you meet someone who inspires you with their creativity, style and let's-make-it-happen attitude. When we came across Belinda Love Lee's Instagram gallery full of photos shot with an artistic eye, we took notice. Upon closer examination, we discovered that Belinda is a talented illustrator and designer. That of course explains why her photos are so beautifully styled in a minimal and thoughtful way.

Hand written lettering and illustrations are an essential part of Belinda's designs.

But what we admire about Belinda goes beyond creativity and style. She did what so many of us dream about doing...she took her talents, concentrated her efforts, and took the real plunge. She daringly took her dreams and made them a reality and forged a successful business centered around her talents and creativity. No small feat in the competitive world of design.

Illustrations and Design work by Belinda Love Lee

So it's an honor to have Belinda on board with Jay + Renae as a Creative Collaborator. When we reached out to her a couple months ago and introduced ourselves, Belinda responded with enthusiasm for what we're building. It inspires us that amazing and strong women like Belinda are willing to give so generously of their time, effort and energy to support our Collective's efforts and help us realize our vision more fully.

Jay + Renae Giveaway with Belinda Love Lee on Instagram

Together, we are jointly celebrating women in creative ventures, recognizing each others contributions to our communtiy of strong women entrepreneurs, and helping to foster success by supporting each others' efforts. And to celebrate our collaboration, Belinda is hosting a giveaway with our Collective's Founding Maker Rebecca Scott. Hop on over to Belinda Love Lee to enter and win one of Rebecca Scott's handmade pieces valued up to $150 USD (retail value).

Rebecca Scott of Jay + Renae Collective Win one of her pieces valued up to $150 USD (retail value) Visit the SHOP to view the whole collection. 

Rebecca's work focuses on highlighting striking cuts of gemstones in minimal designs. She also harnesses the ancient art of weaving to create a distinctly modern Woven Collection. Her woven pieces sparkle with just the right hint of gold and gemstones for a sophisticated yet casual vibe.

Visit her Etsy shop to view Rebecca's entire collection. And head over to Belinda's beautiful blog to get all the details to enter and win!

Good Luck Everyone!


Monday, January 5, 2015

What If We Each Did More Than Our Part?

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The Didi Jewelry Project
Remember the above photo of Laurel Gunnarson working with the women of The Didi Jewelry Project? It was taken a little over a year ago during her last trip to India. This year, instead of taking her annual trip, she finally decided to do what she's been avoiding for a long time. 
The Didi Jewelry Project teaches women facing extreme hardships in India the skill of jewelry making so they can have the means to create a life they deserve. 
You may recall from our interview with Laurel last year our surprise to discover that the Didi Jewelry Project is entirely funded by Laurel herself. In fact, Laurel often works several jobs in addition to managing the Project to make The Didi Jewelry Project possible.

This year, Laurel sat down and took a candid look at things. And she arrived at a hard truth. As much as she has taken the right steps to get The Didi Jewelry Project where it is today, her efforts alone are simply not enough. In order to make a concrete difference in the lives of the women that the Didi Jewelry Project helps, the Project needs to do more. It needs to grow enough to provide a steady stream of work for the women who are already part of the Project. It also needs to increase its reach so she can help more women rise above their hardships. 
This is Champa. She has been a part of the Didi Jewelry Project for several years. Here is what she has to say about her experience...
"Since I have engaged myself in making jewelry, I feel happy. I have gained confidence now that I can do something to take care of my family. Earlier...I used to just think about my disease. Now, I'm earning and supporting my family and I don't have time to worry."
Champa is a widow and a mother of two children. She is also a victim of HIV. When she married her husband, she had no way of knowing that her husband was HIV positive. Now a widow, she is left with a life threatening disease and two children to care for, in a society that believes that a widow does not even deserve to feel joy again. The Didi Jewelry Project provides hope for women like Champa. The Didi Jewelry Project helps make a new life possible. 
Laurel reached out to us over the weekend to let us know that she has taken an important and vital step to ensure that The Didi Jewelry Project can continue to help women like Champa. She is fundraising and needs everyone's help.
Now we can all help make it possible for the Didi Jewelry Project to succeed. We can each make a small contribution to The Didi Jewelry Project so women like Champa can continue to work. We can make it possible for Champa to continue to feel the incredible joy of being able to work and provide for her children...something we often take for granted.

Go here to contribute directly to the fundraiser:

When you purchase a Didi original on our Jay + Renae website, we will donate 100% of the proceeds to The Didi Jewelry Project fundraiser. As a thank you for your contribution, you will also receive 50% off any purchase of Rebecca Scott Jewelry purchased today on our website.* Please use coupon code: DidiThanksYou 

The fundraiser ends today so please go now and take this opportunity to make a difference in these women's lives. 

*Please note that Rebecca Scott Jewelry must be purchased together with The Didi Jewelry Project 
in one transaction to activate the 50% discount on Rebecca Scott Jewelry. 
Below is our interview with Laurel last year.

What is your favorite part about going to India and working with the women of
The Didi Jewelry Project? 

I love going to India and being able to share something I love with the ladies of The Didi Jewelry Project. They are all so eager to learn and grateful for the work.  The idea that jewelry making can help better the lives of these ladies and their families is very exciting to me. And it’s always a reality check to go back to India… I realize how amazing, beautiful and kind people can be despite such harsh realities!  It truly inspires me.

Also there is something very amazing about communicating when there is a language barrier that always leaves me in awe about humanity.  I know very little Hindi and they know little to no English, but somehow we communicate.  It is not just that they are able to learn to make the jewelry, but that we are able to read and understand each other on a deeper level.  We understand and can read each other's emotions, sometimes even better than you can with someone who speaks the same language.  Being able to connect with the ladies in this way is really very special. 

Was there anything that made this trip particularly memorable/significant?

This trip was really significant to me because I feel like I am beginning to see how the Project is slowly helping these ladies. They are more confident and happy, and tell me that it is because of this work! This is very encouraging and motivating. The ladies whom I have worked with before were excited to learn new designs and caught on very quickly. I was also very impressed with some of their designs!  

It was a great productive trip. It was a joy spending my days teaching and designing jewelry, sipping chai and singing silly songs.

When you purchase any of The Didi Jewelry Project original designs on our Jay + Renae website, we will donate 100% of all proceeds directly to the The Didi Jewelry Project fundraiser. 
Laurel started The Didi Jewelry Project because she wanted to make a lasting impact on these women's lives. As she describes it, Laurel fell in love with India during her first trip there as a teenager. She was mezmorized by the sights, sounds, smells and beauty around her. But she was equally struck by the poverty and inequality that she witnessed. Over the course of several years, Laurel traveled to India to volunteer at a number of NGO's working closely with women and children. Through this work, she learned of the hardships these women and children faced.  
  • Young girls who are victims of sex trafficking
  • Children who are forced into child labor
  • Women who are HIV positive and left to die on the streets
  • Widows who are stigmatized and thought should never experience joy again
The core goal of The Didi Jewelry Project is to give these women the means to help create the life they deserve. 

“Our mission is to provide Indian women engulfed in hardship with an opportunity for change. By teaching them jewelry making and selling their products, we empower women financially and personally.”  
                                                                                                                       Laurel Gunnarson

We are incredibly honored to have Laurel and The Didi Jewelry Project as part of the
Jay + Renae Collective

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Giving From The Heart

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This Christmas, we wanted to share this touching story. One of our former hostesses wrote to tell us about a girlfriend who lost everything in a fire that burned her whole house down.  It reminded us that we have so much to be grateful for and that joy truly is, giving from the heart.

When we loose everything, sometimes we're surprised to find what we treasure and miss the most. 

Aston, our first remote hostess, had hosted a Jay + Renae trunk show a while back. We're glad to say that she had a fun time with friends and enjoyed a successful party! Earlier in the month, she wrote us to inquire about reordering a necklace that one of her girlfriends had purchased. It was a custom order personized necklace by Alana Little of MakePieNotWar. In her email she explains...

The reason for this email is that one of the girlfriends from my trunk show house burned down about two weeks ago. They completely lost everything, but so very thankful they are all safe and okay. It was crazy. Their dryer had caught on fire during the day and the fire department came quickly and put it out. But due to the lingering smell and having a 9mo old and a 7yr old, they stayed at her parent's house for the evening. Well, apparently it caught on fire again in the middle of the night and completely burned the house to the ground. They literally lost everything.  But God was so good to protect them, and our community have reached out to help them.

When I saw her tonight she told me that one item she lost was her necklace that she had purchased at the trunk show. It had both her boys names inscribed on it. I would like to buy her another. I cannot remember exactly who the designer was, but I think it was MakePieNotWar. I can describe the necklace if need be or send a picture (another friend bought the same one). Just not sure what I needed to do or where to begin in getting it replaced for her.

Thanks so much!

The story really struck us. Imagine losing everything to a fire! Especially with two little one's so close to the holidays. Well, we simply had to do something ... her story made our hearts break but also, we are so honored to find out that one of our handmade pieces is so meaningful. So we replied to Aston right away and promised to take care of it.  We wanted to surprise both Aston and Julie and replace the necklace as a gift from us at Jay + Renae. We notified our member Designer Alana Little and she got to work right away so it could be finished in time for Christmas. 

This is what Aston wrote to us just before Christmas Eve...

I had the privilege of delivering the necklace to Julie today. It was a complete surprise. She told me that this necklace was one of the first things she thought about as she realized everything in her house was destroyed by fire. She was heartbroken because she had not had it long and it was the first thing she owned that had both her boy's names on it. We talked about how some items seem so small and insignificant to others, but are invaluable to you because of what they mean or represent. They can never be replaced by anything else. She was overjoyed to be given the exact necklace that she had lost. You made it possible to replace one of the items she held so dear. 

Thank you! This made her Christmas! 

Thank you Aston, for sharing this story with us and for giving us an opportunity to be a part of this joy. Julie, we hope you enjoy your necklace and that it brings as much joy as the original that you lost to the fire. 

Merry Chistmas everyone. 

Your friends at Jay + Renae

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Treat: Peppermint Mocha

We're into the final stretch as we enter the 3rd week of December. Most of the holiday orders have come in and our designers are working furiously to make your special piece just in time for holiday delivery.

This, of course, is known as the holiday rush...something we're all too familar with! Things can start to get a little crazy with so much to accomplish in such a short period of time. And if you're anything like us, you want things to be perfect...which means having things carefully and skillfully hand crafted and made with love. It's hard to rush anything when this is your motto. But somehow, our designers get it done because that's what we've promised.

At times like these, we find that it's especially important to remember to be take breaks, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes. Just to take in some fresh air, smile at our little one(s) and steal a kiss or two (because we're all moms working from home or, very close to home).

Peppermint Mocha by the faux MARTHA
Or maybe, even stop long enough to enjoy a holiday this amazing hot Peppermint Mocha by the faux MARTHA - a favorite blog full of mouth watering recipes with beautiful photos that are elegant and delicious enough to eat! A treat like this is perfect because you it forces you to sip it slowly which is exactly what most of us need right slow down enough to enjoy the moment.

A perfect little break from the holiday slow, yummy sip at a time. 
Find the Recipe at the faux MARTHA

What do you do to take a break from the holiday rush? Do you have a favorite treat that helps you unwind and enjoy the moment, however brief? Share with us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!


Jay + Renae Collective

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Special!

We love our hostesses and we want to make sure you feel loved. So we are making the month of May our special Hostess Month!

May Special!

We think supporting women in creative businesses should be a fun and rewarding experience.    So gather family and friends for your own private event. Make sure to take advantage of this special promotion today...we can only offer it once a year! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Discover FriedaSophie

Hi. I'm Rebecca, the person behind the company Jay + Renae. I want to take a moment to introduce myself in case I haven't had the privilege of meeting you in person. It's been a whirlwind since Jay + Renae was launched just over a year ago. What began as an idle thought as I searched for ways to make my home based creative business more successful has evolved into the very company I had long fantasized about creating. I never thought it would really be possible, especially as a full time stay-at-home mom. 
Of course these things never happen without the generous help of others. From the kind words of encouragement from family and friends, to the unexpected offer from a neighbor to host my very first trunk show, to the unsolicited sharing of trade secrets from a fellow designer...I have been privileged to have the assistance of those near and dear, and from those I have met along the way.

OOAK Vanilla Agate Geode Druzy Ring
by Sandra Ducheneaux of Etsy Shop FriedaSophie 
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing one of the very individuals who assisted me on my path. Meet our Featured Designer Sandra Ducheneaux, of Etsy Shop FriedaSophie. Not only is Sandra a talented jewelry designer and crafter, she is an incredible person and a dear friend. We met during a gem show where I had the privilege of watching Sandra work, diligently and systematically shifting through a mountain of gem trays in search of that perfect stone for her next One-Of-A-Kind creation. It was clear from a mere glance at our individual gem trays that I was a complete newbie, and she was a seasoned vet. She invited me to tea, took me under her wing, and without hesitation divulged every single one of her trade secrets. 
Unique Peach Aragonite Mineral Gemstone Necklace
by Sandra Ducheneaux of FriedaSophie
There are encounters that can significantly shape the outcome of our lives, often in ways we don't expect. It's no exaggeration to say that my chance meeting with Sandra helped shape the very foundation of Jay + Renae and gave me the extra incentive to make my dream a reality.

So meet Sandra, and discover her shop FriedaSophie, a perennial Etsy favorite since she opened it's virtual doors in 2009. 
How did you get into jewelry designing?
I was days away from completing my training as an acupuncturist when I fell severely ill with a heart condition. I was bedridden and physically unable to continue with my training. To entertain myself while I was on bed rest, I made myself a pair of earrings. Then while out for some fresh air, a store owner noticed them and asked me if I could make a dozen of them. They sold out within 1 month and a friend mentioned that I should open an Etsy store. The following week I signed up and named my shop FriedaSophie after my late grandmother. After just 3 months my shop became my full time business.

Looking back, I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't found jewelry crafting when I did. I have always done artwork since I was a child but never thought that I could support myself as an artist. It has been a joyful time since I opened FriedaSophie in 2009.
FriedaSophie is a true Etsy success story and your work has been highlighted by Etsy many time. What do you think distinguishes your work from your peers? 
My focus has always been on quality and uniqueness. I'm very detail oriented and I'm constantly creating new pieces so that I can offer new designs all year round. So I think my One-Of-A-Kind and Limited Edition collections are what really distinguishes my work from others. I also believe in offering my best work at reasonable prices...I set my pieces at a price that I would want to pay for them.  

Your Collection has a wonderful raw beauty to it.
How do you find your stones? 
I make a trip to the desert for the yearly gem show to meet miners from all over the world. It can be an overwhelming experience but I like being there to discover new treasures and to handpick each of my's the best way to ensure quality and uniqueness. But I also like meeting the people who mine the stones and get to know their stories. Knowing that I'm helping to support their family businesses and ensuring eco friendly practices adds a deeper level of meaning to the stones I carry back home with me. I hope that comes through in each of the pieces I create. 
                                                                              Sanda Ducheneaux
Moroccan Blue Turquoise Earrings
Hand forged by Sandra Ducheneaux of FriedaSophie
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such incredible and talented women like Sandra. The open sharing and trust within our community has helped make Jay + Renae possible and gives special meaning to these collaborations. On a more personal level, being in such great company has helped me flourish as a jewelry designer and inspires me to do better and be more to ensure Jay + Renae's success.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. 

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It's true that nothing great is ever accomplished alone. I met Rebecca at her very first trunk show. It was hosted by a personal friend of mine who also happended to be Rebecca's neighbor. It's incredible how a series of small events and the desire to lend a helping hand can be so powerful. I joined Jay + Renae because there is something fantastic about being part of something that truly gets better and better as more women get involved. 
We're really looking forward to receiving Sandra's collection in the next few days! The pieces are stunning in pictures which means that they will be even more beautiful in person. I personally love learning a bit about Sandra's history because it adds a whole new dimension to her work. They're not just rings or necklaces, but a beautiful token of a much larger to be cherished as part of your own personal story! Let's view Sandra's collection together. Email us and book your own private party! Remember that you get up to 40% off all the collections at your private trunk show. 

And as a reminder, we are extending Alana Little's feature into the month of April. So if you love her collection but haven't booked your trunk show yet, here's your chance! I will have her collection along with Sandra's until the end of April. So contact us today at info at JayAndRenae dot com. We're looking forward to sharing the latest from all the collections with you!