Hey friends! My name is Taniesha and I'm the owner of FortySixandFive, a small business that specializes in handmade polymer clay earrings. I wanted to take a moment to share my experience as a polymer clay earring maker during the pandemic.
First off, I have to say that it's been a wild ride! The pandemic brought about a lot of uncertainty and changes to the way we live and work. But, I've also found that it presented some unique opportunities for small businesses like mine.
When the pandemic first hit and lockdowns began, I'll be honest, I was a little excited as a teacher. For two weeks, I could focus on relaunching my mug business as I was a mug maker on Etsy. However, little did I know… 2 weeks turned into 2 years! In that time, so much went down. I became a caretaker for my mother and I learned of this amazing new genre of jewelry, Polymer clay! I started learning how to make earrings ( which is my love!)
It started with SVG files on the cricut. I would by fabric such as faux leather and other fun patterned prints and create earrings. During the pandemic, my very strong and independent hero ( mom) came to live with us to start treatment and I was thrilled and afraid. I wanted to make sure I'd be able to juggle work, my small business and caretaking.
Then it really hit. We were on lock down and I was spending so much time with my family and my mom! She was the best cheerleader as I started this new business venture of the earrings. After all, she was the one who instilled the love of earrings into my sister and me. One of the biggest changes I'd started seeing was an increase in online shopping and the shift towards more e-commerce platforms. I figured I'd put all of my energy into my business , while supporting my school and families during the school shut down.
So the pandemic was tough. I spent most of the time trying my best to keep my mom safe and therefore, in person events were a "NO." A big one. Fighting cancer did not include going everywhere and exposing my mom to an unknown virus. Since the cancer had returned, the pandemic is now a blur of doctors appointments, research and clinical trials. I ALWAYS thought that my mother would make it. And let me tell you, after 7 years, she fought to the end. She was surrounded by so much love in the quaint little room that we had built just for her. And then it was empty.
And grieved some more.
I was DEVASTATED... I couldn't see the reason for my mother/best friend being taken from me . It just didn't make sense and nothing would appease me. I saw a video on youtube about polymer clay earrings and my first thought was, "that is BEAUTIFUL." I can do this. My job was sooooooooo mentally demanding, and I needed to use the artistic part of my brain. I like to say that the logical part of my brain wouldn't function and I just threw myself into creating. I went to therapy and came to terms with the fact that I could allow myself to be this different version of myself and just BE. So I turned that quaint room into my working space and began to create.
Its been a year. An entire year since the birth of FortysixandFive earrings. It's been amazing to see my earrings being worn by people locally and nationally. I did a LIVE on Instagram and told people about how this form of therapy was getting me through my darkness and honoring my mother at the same time. I called the collection, THE CHRISTINA Collection... and I was convinced it would only be one collection. I was wrong!
I had to learn how to be a “content creator” and rebrand. I kept working on sharpening this new form of art that was so unfamiliar yet so soothing and therapeutic. It literally challenged all of my grief for just a few moments. I would look up and see something beautiful emerge. And then, they started to sell and OMG... It was and has been so heartwarming to see my customers sharing pictures wearing my earrings on social media and tagging me.
I am also excited to share that my business has grown, and I now sell my earrings in several boutiques, which has been a dream come true for me.
Creating these earrings was way for me to process my grief of losing my mom to cancer. It's still a therapeutic outlet for me, and I feel grateful to be able to channel my emotions into something beautiful and meaningful. I have been able to sell hundreds of these earrings and my mother would be so proud.
As we look towards the future, I'm feeling hopeful that God will continue to allow me to see my dreams come true. I have always been a "goal digger" and I've always wanted to make my mama proud. My biggest prayer is the manifestation of my dreams and that I am able to live to see them come to pass and to be able to thrive in abundance and love.
So yes... being a polymer clay earring maker during the pandemic was a challenging experience, but it's also been an opportunity to grow and adapt to the new normal. The perfect storm of the pandemic, the shift to e-commerce, the rise of social media and the renewed interest in DIY and crafting, have all helped small businesses like mine to reach a wider audience and continue to grow. I'm so grateful for the support of my customers and I look forward to continuing to create beautiful and unique pieces for you all. I am thankful that my collection has grown in to a thriving business that honors Christina, and makes woman feel amazing each and every day!