Grandmother's illness inspires Raleigh mom to create awareness jewelry
Posted January 23, 2011 8:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2011 9:13 p.m. EST
Melinda Hawkins started making jewelry about seven years ago for herself.
She was working in an office and needed pieces to match her outfits. She was frustrated with the quality of the necklaces, earrings and bracelets she bought at department stores. They always seemed to break. So she decided to start making her own.
The business side, now called Little Inspirations, started when a woman at her children's former daycare noticed one of the pieces and asked Hawkins where she got it. When Hawkins told her she made it herself, the woman offered to buy some pieces.
"It grew from leaps and bounds from there," Hawkins wrote me. "People love unique pieces of jewelry that shows off their unique style."
The business took a turn about a year ago when Hawkins made a bracelet to honor her grandmother, who died from a rare blood condition called Aplastic anemia when she was 12. She made a few and posted them on Facebook. When people saw that bracelet, they started asking about other causes from Crohn's disease to child abuse.
Her work has sold all over the country and the world, including England, Germany, Belgium and, most recently, Australia and Japan. And she has branched out to include tribute bracelets to honor fallen soldiers, firefighters and police officers. She's working to add purse pulls and key chains to her line. And in the spring, she'll begin offering mother's bracelets and birthstone bracelets.
"I get to hear all sorts of stories and meet people online from all over the world," she tells me. "It truly is an honor to be able to help someone show their support for a cause that matters so much to them."
November and December were busy months for this mom of two as she worked to fill orders, including one from Iowa for ten bracelets recognizing her grandmother's cause. The business is helping to support the family after Hawkins was laid off from two jobs two years ago.
"In my own way, I'm spreading her cause and helping others spread their cause," she said.
Check Hawkins' website to see her jewelry and learn more about what she does. And be sure to check out my video interview with her.