Gold And Cold Season – A Brookolie Newsletter

I'm convinced this stuff will keep you warmer all winter. #gold #workinprogress #Brookolie #goldfill #vermeil

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I’ve been wanting to do one of these newsletters for awhile, but really had no idea what to tell folks about my Brookolie jewelry.  Recently fellow writer Sa’diyya Nesar of the SISTERS Disability Feature Column and I had a brief chat about the bursts of creative energy and emotional maturity that often occur after a fever or other illness. Lo and stuff, it seems all I needed was to be knocked down with a bronchitis flare up for several days and now I have plenty to tell you! Firstly, I think this connection between illness and growth is a really interesting one worth exploring for most of us. We usually view sickenss as a horrid impedance, and sure it can be, but there is also a method to the erm hackiness.

As someone with congenital muscular weaknesses, Sa’diyya has experienced this cycle many times in her life. Sa’diyya was born with weak muscles, (congenital myopathy), making her vulnerable to get pneumonia easily. I have experienced this cycle frequently as well with reoccurring bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis in my youth. The first place I ever read about and had confirmation about the post illness bloom was in a homeopathic book I bought back in my days in Portland(ia) to learn how to care for my children, who I have since witnessed experience this phenomena many times. My daughter Zaynab, then 7 years old, was once in bed with a fever for two days when she suddenly popped up and had to “work on a shirt”. She had recently commandeered her older brother’s fabric pens and had been dabbling with them, but on this post feverish day she spent a couple of hours doubled over her shirt creating an elaborate and pretty awesome henna-esque design covering about 3/4s of it. Then she went back to be for another day and a half.

About a month before my current knock down I had finally received a long awaited order of 14 Goldfill and 22K Vermeil jewelry supplies. I hadn’t had the time to do anything with it, but while I was sick I dozed on and off in bed, visions of stringing gold rolo chain with sky blue Amazonite, frosty green Fluorite and vermeil connectors danced through my head. As soon as I could sit up I had several designs in mind which I had to crank out. And here they are…

Which leads me to… many people ask me where do I get my supplies?

I incorporate Moroccan-made elements in most of my designs, but the majority of my gemstones, pearls and even metal bits cannot be found in Morocco. I have been selling my gemstone and precious metal jewelry for a decade and brought a fairly nice stash of supplies with me to Morocco. One winter in Alaska, I worked in a lovely boutique bead store while the owner went on her annual shopping trip to Hong Kong, India and Thailand. I owed her a lot of money when she got back, but I am still using gemstones from those many, many strands I acquired that winter.

Nowadays replenishing my beads is much more complicated than running down to the Bead Shack to pick up a string of Carnelian rondelles or a few Chalcedony briolettes. Not only do I need to plan appropriately to have all my ‘findings,’ staple gemstone, and pearl beads in my favorite colors and cuts, as well as exciting and interesting new finds, but I also have to have someone bring them to me as shipping several hundred dollars worth of supplies through the post is both costly (they are rocks ya know and do weigh as such), and would be a business-stopping loss if they were ‘lost’. So I order all my supplies from sellers in the US, Hong Kong and Thailand, and have them shipped to friends in family who are coming to Morocco from all over the place.

Frankly it has been nerve wracking for some of my friends and family to bring supplies to me. When they see the value of the stones on the shipping receipts they freak out a little bit about the responsibility. This is where I lose all business sense and my (desperate) artist sensibility takes over. “Don’t worry,” I appease my friends and family. “If anything happens I understand, it’s a risk I am taking. Don’t worry. Please, just bring them!” And so far this has worked, though not easily, which is ultimately good. This is one of the good things about being an expat – I have to find new ways of doing things that makes me more resourceful, a little more organized and Ya Rubb (Oh Lord) more appreciative!

Local fair-trade-ish stuffs

I do try to acquire as much of my supplies locally as possible. I am very fortunate that Ibrahim, the man my mother-in-law has been going to for jewelry repairs, exchanges and purchases for nearly thirty years has not only an excellent selection, but he is also very prolific in buying back old (vintage and antique!) jewelry from so many long term customers like my mil and he is a very skilled silversmith who can make the sterling silver wire I use in nearly every piece of silver jewelry I make. Not only does he make fresh wire for me in several gauges, he also recycles all the cut off ends and bits of sterling I send him- pretty awesome, enit?

Gold and Cold 3

Gold and Cold 1

Ibrahim also keeps an eye out for things he knows I need, like the occasional Thai fine silver pieces that may show up around town, strands of ‘potato’ or ‘rice’ pearls (often used in Moroccan wedding jewelry), these particularly awesome little locally made sterling spacers that occasionally become available and any especially interesting old Berber silver rings- I can’t make rings (yet) but I like to have them available in my shop for a more complete feel. Okay, I LOVE vintage and antique Moroccan jewelry, so it helps me to not hoard items if I can admire them in my stock for a bit before they tumble along to their new homes, I can only own so many rings.

Some of the vintage Moroccan rings heading into the #Brookolie shop this weekend. #silver #amazigh #silver #tuareg

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Here is a peek at Ibrahim’s inventory:

Gold and Cold 5

Of course, any chance I get I also go digging around in other jewelry shops for exciting odds and ends to hoard, I mean eventually work into my jewelry. This is a stash I collected in Essaouira, where I did get a little carried away and had to borrow a bunch of dirhams from my ten year old… I paid him back!

Especially if you made it all the way down to this portion of my newsletter, thanks so much for reading my ramblings! Please ‘like’ my Facebook page for updates and special discounts – ok, on my Brookolie Facebook page there is a not-too-hidden coupon code for % off, but for you non-facebookers, it is FANDF (that’s Friends AND Family). Just enter FANDF at check out to get the discount okay?

Treasures Found in Shopping Small

You know that running joke from My Big Fat Greek Wedding about the dad who uses Windex on all kinds of wounds? We have habits like that in my family. There is an uncle who gargles with a substance I won’t name here for fear of furthering weirdness. As for myself, I have (had!) an unhealthy attachment to triple antibiotic ointment. It’s one of the few things I ask people to bring to me here in Morocco where I have only seen singular antibiotic ointment available. I need(ed) triple! This is an odd thing about me because I otherwise lean pretty heavily towards traditional and homeopathic ways of healing and caring for my household – there’s no Lysol or Mr. Propre under my sink. So when I caught a glimpse of Love and Light Healing’s Herbal Salve I had myself a little realization/awakening moment. And I got some! Oh but wait, actually it was swiped by son #1 who frequently injures himself and was the primary user of the ointment we shall no longer name.

lalh

I also picked up some of Chasity’s beautifully handcrafted teas- for both internal digestion and, um, external application. Yup, she makes a variety of yummy teas and yoni (vaginal) steam baths and even postpartum sitz baths. Easily my favorite thing from the Love and Light Healing shop is her herbal pain relief stick with arnica, lemongrass, clove, cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, ginger, tea tree, lavender, and beeswax. It works, it feels rather lux using it AND it smells so incredible. Love and Light Healing also carries handwrapped gemstone jewelry, a line of body and bath products, and lovingly handcrafted tinctures, such as elderberry and black walnut. Chasity is a doula and healer and can do a variety of special orders as well. I rate her shop and products: Absolute awesomeness.

Blankets

Next up in my #shopsmall adventures is Aaminah Shakur’s work, who I am a happy, happy repeat customer of. I ordered several custom crochet pieces, which I photographed the wrong side of the blankets above because they are just so beautiful either way and I am a dork. They are down in a cable stitch like these baby bonnets here. Last year I got some fingerless gloves and an infinity scarf for son #2 from Shakur, and son #3 was a bit coveting, so for this (very mild seaside) winter I ordered Mother and Son matching fingerless gloves for he and I. He LOVES them. And he was actually pretty excited that I gave him my pair on accident (I admitted to dorkdom) and so he got to wear both pairs. Those are mine on him in the photo below.

Gloves

CardsI also got a series of handmade cards from Aaminah that not I will not be sending to anyone but bought to frame and put up somewheres in my home, maybe by the kitchen… and a handpainted journal also for me, me, me. Aaminah’s shop also features their paintings, collages, jewelry, bags (which I need one of!) and some of their writing and poetry. Shop rating: a Generous Gathering of Gorgeous

SBraceletAnd one more shop I am featuring in today’s bountiful round up is Sumayyah Said So. In the past I have given Sumayyah’s unique, handmade jewelry as gifts, though I have bought a couple of her books for myself, but then this bracelet was seemingly made just for me… It looks great on me, huh?

It features Serpentine jade and three shades of wooden beads in a double strand. I am now “watching” her new moon earrings series and her surprisingly adorable skull ones. She also has a variety of unique bracelets and necklaces in her shop.

SBrace2
Sumayyah’s books and stories are just as original and unique as her jewelry, featuring super likable (even the bad guys sometimes!) characters often in fantastical and amusing situations. Sumayyah has hundreds of her own poems and short stories available to read on her website, but please consider clicking on her tip jar on your way out. Shop rating: Truly One of A Kind.

I shop small year round, both locally and online. It is often the only way for me to find exactly what I need, but it also does all those other great things, such as supporting great families and individuals, being kinder on the environment and filling my home with beautiful and well-made things.

New Pretty Things In Brookolie Etsy Shop

BTW, I am adding lots of shimmery, sparkly, one-of-a-kind things to my Etsy shop this weekend, which starts today. Please ‘like’ my Brookolie Facebook page where you will find a not-so-secret 20% off coupon. Thanks for looking!

Biwa! Loads of pearls and silver in this triple strand with charm(s) bracelet.
Ready set layered. Sterling, pearl, jade, briolette almost triple-strand necklace.

Like I said, many pretty, pretty things…

Front page

Meet the Muslimah Sellers of Etsy

Some items from Muslimah Etsy sellers: journal, popsicle earrings,  hijab pin, 'IQRA' book ends.
Some items from Muslimah Etsy sellers: journal, popsicle earrings, hijab pin, ‘IQRA’ book ends.

From SISTERS magazine’s November 2014 issue, some of the best sister-owned shops on the Internet’s favourite place to buy handmade.

I know many folks think that shopping on Etsy can be a very dangerous thing. There are just far too many unique and wonderful things on that website! But it’s actually an excellent shopping practice to buy from independent sellers and small-business families, as the products are exceptionally made to last a long time, often made with eco-green considerations in mind and directly support individuals in a fair-trade manner. Best of all, there are now many Muslim sellers on Etsy and your purchases from them can go towards supporting families striving to have deen-based lifestyles. Here is a selection of some of the great Muslimah sellers working via the Etsy platform – go ahead and window shop!

Ink And Ocean owned by Fehmida Shah

BB: What do you sell?
FS: Mostly downloadable art and cards and some paper goods.

BB: What is special about your items?
FS: I hope that my products are unique to me, as I have designed and created all of them. My paper goods that are not downloadable are either fair-trade or made from 100% recyclable materials or both. All are printed using environmentally-friendly inks.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
FS: After a day’s work, it’s lovely to just escape and have a creative outlet. I love the creative process and the ability to share my passion with a worldwide audience. I can make something I enjoy doing and have the opportunity to share it with others instantly.

BB: Any advice to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
FS: Whether you want to sell on Etsy as a business or a hobby, I would say get familiar with the whole Etsy shop process and ask for help – there is lots of it out there in the form of books, articles and forums. Choose your Etsy username wisely to reflect your business as this can never be changed. Put in the time to market your products on other social media networks and blogs. Be patient. Like any other business, you have to work at it and it takes time.

Winged Pony Kawaii Jewelry owned by Siegret Chappell

BB: What do you sell?
SC: I sell kawaii (cute in Japanese) jewellery and accessories.

BB: What is special about your items?
SC: They are for grown up women or little women who like cute, quirky or dainty things. I try to keep it simple so they can be worn with everyday clothes as a small statement of quirky cuteness.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
SC: I have had this urge to build and make from a young age and making jewellery has become a manageable outlet. I sell so that I can afford more supplies (aka supporting my other strong urge to shop)!

BB: Any advice to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
SC: Following the Etsy seller handbook is really the easiest way to get close to success.

Etsy Sellers II

Yarncoture owned by Maryum Karim

BB: What do you sell?
MK: I sell hand-knit and crocheted accessories for men, women and children, as well as unique items for your home.

BB: What is special about your items?
MK: What makes my items special is that Allah has blessed me with this talent. Before I started doing this I couldn’t have dreamed that I could make the things that I am able to make now. The designs that I choose are classics – items that you will be reaching for again and again that never go out of style. I also like to choose designs with a lot of elegance and style, that goes for the items I make for both women and men. Everything that I make is done with lots of love, care and professionalism to the best of my ability.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
MK: It all started with an “attempt” to repair a very special blanket that my oldest son was given during his stay in the hospital. I remembered that I knew how to crochet from my childhood so I was able to repair it (terribly). My mother sent me some knitting needles and some yarn and an ancient “how-to” knitting book. After failing at understanding the basic instructions I was given, I went online to see if there was an easier way. Alhamdulillah I found a site that made things much easier and I began knitting! I began to make lots of blankets and my family told me “you should open your own store!” – so I did! My work gives me so much peace and it’s very rewarding to see someone absolutely love and appreciate something you made!

BB: Any advice to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
MK: I would advise them to do their homework! Research the market you’d like to get into and see if it can be a lucrative business for you. Research packaging, your logo and most of all your pricing should reflect how much time you put into your work, as well as the cost of materials. Also, be original! The last thing Etsy needs is another shop that looks like another and another and so on. If it’s something that you truly love doing, it will show in your work!

The Olive Tree Soap Company owned by Sobia Hussain

BB: What do you sell?
SH: I sell luxury artisan bath and body products which are vegan and free from harsh chemicals. My products include artisan soaps, lip balms, natural deodorants, lotion sticks, argan oil, hajj/umrah unscented products, unique party favours and gift sets for all occasions.

BB: What is special about your items?
SH: My goal is to provide the community with carefully handcrafted skin care with your health and planet as priority, while offering a natural alternative to the conventionally mass-produced products on the market. All my products are vegan and halal, they are free from alcohol-sourced ingredients as well harsh chemicals such as SLS, phthalate and paraben. The Olive Tree Soap Company is proud to be animal-cruelty free.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
SH: Since I was young, I have been very passionate about science and art. The two interests never intersected until I discovered soapmaking in my adult years. Making artisanal skincare products and designing its packaging is a fine marriage of chemistry and my personal form of expression. It’s as though it was meant for me. I’m so grateful to be in this field, alhamdulillah.

BB: Any advice to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
SH: Don’t be intimidated. If there is something you are passionate about and would love to share with others, do your research in your field and see how others are selling their products. Do not solely rely on Etsy to be discovered. There are over 1 million sellers on Etsy so it’s easy for your shop to get lost in the large crowd; you will need to work hard to get your name out in other venues such as large events, local fairs, blogs, features and product reviews. Be ready to leave your comfort zone to promote your business and what you have to offer. Do it with class and integrity. It’s really a fine balance. If you don’t start, you’ll never know.

Muslamb Stationers owned by Cjala Surratt

BB: What do you sell?
CS: Muslamb carries letterpress and offset greeting cards, fill-in invitations and desk decor essentials such as notepads, sticky notes, bookends, stamps and pencils, the most popular of which are the “Hijabi Hard at Work” and “Study Dua” pencils.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
CS: I started Muslamb Stationers because I often had to doctor ‘Seasons Greetings’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ cards for Eid, walimahs or aqiqahs (I sent out many a tacky card with ‘Happy Holidays’ crossed out and ‘Eid Mubarak’ put in!). I was also tired of giving my money to businesses that didn’t carry any goods that reflected those holidays and special events that are important to me as a Muslim. So, I decided to create stationery goods that reflected Islamic values and embraced a quirky, fresh, fun and contemporary sensibility.

BB: Any advice to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
CS: Etsy is good platform to begin with; they have built in a lot of functionality for a seller to set up a shop easily. I found it beneficial for testing out my buyer demographic initially and a great means of garnering visibility as one gets the brand recognition and trust that comes with the Etsy brand.

Omee’s Boutique owned by Omee (Mona)

BB: What do you sell?
O: Reusable cloth menstrual pads, baby to toddler bibs and unpaper towels are my best sellers. I also sew and sell diaper bags, waterproof bags, pacifier clips, mitten clips, infant car seat canopies, nursing pads and a lot of other items. I take custom requests if readers have anything else in mind.

BB: What is special about your items?
O: Everything in my shop is handmade by me, with loving care and attention to detail. I sew everyday whenever possible. These days I am focusing more on eco-friendly products like reusable cloth menstrual pads, reusable snack/sandwich bags and unpaper towels.

BB: Why do you do/make what you do?
O: I can’t survive without something to keep my hands busy, so I sew when I can, when my toddler is napping and my husband is busy at work. I love beautiful fabrics and use what little free time I have to create items that can possibly become a loved and worn best friend.

BB: Any advices to wannabe Etsyians or craft sellers?
O: Etsy is an established marketplace that customers from around the world shop from. Having your own website in addition to a shop on Etsy will be great for you, but I would recommend starting out on Etsy. I currently only have an Etsy shop and hope to create a website of my own soon too insha Allah.

Research well and pick a nice name for your shop, price your handmade items well and once you are all set update your shop regularly and make a connection with your customers through either a Facebook page or an Instagram account. Make your customers happy, network with other sellers, promote your shop, keep improving and take your business seriously. It will be a slow climb but with time you will see good results and do great insha Allah.

SISTERS Etsyians!

Brooke Benoit www.etsy.com/shop/Brookolie
Ke’lona Hamilton www.etsy.com/shop/CreativeMotivations
Zainab Bint Younus www.etsy.com/shop/AbayatLeatherAndLace
Maria Zain www.etsy.com/shop/GardensofAdneen

Some of our favourite Muslim Etsy shops:

AlhambraAcrylics www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AlhambraAcrylics
ArchetypeZ www.etsy.com/shop/ArchetypeZ
AyshBoutique www.etsy.com/shop/AyshBoutique
HaniyyaJewelz www.etsy.com/shop/haniyyajewelz
INKhandcrafted www.etsy.com/shop/INKhandcrafted
Islamicable www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Islamicable
muslamb www.etsy.com/shop/ownsignature
PathOfLightDesigns www.etsy.com/shop/PathOfLightDesigns
SHOPNadiaJArt www.etsy.com/shop/shopnadiajart

In addition to writing and editing for SISTERS magazine, Brooke Benoit sometimes makes unique (and fairly spectacular) jewellery for her own Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/Brookolie.

Metsy Monday: Fiber Arts

Here we have some of my very favorite things – wearable art, plush toys, fabric and fiber jewelry – it’s all fiber arts in this Metsy Monday treasury!

 

*click the pic below to go straight to Etsy and enjoy.

 

Metsy Mondays Fiber Arts

* “Metsy” is a portmanteau of the words Muslim and Etsy – you know, like Mipster

Women on Their Favorite Tools

 

Zahrah torching.

Here’s a lil something I did for The Toast and am pretty, totally proud of:

Last week a friend of mine bragged on her social media about acquiring a shiny new mint-green scroll saw. Before I could derail her moment and bemoan my failure to replace my long lost cordless Dremel, a slew of comments popped up voicing safety concerns and personal testimonies of complete inadequacy with tools. My covetousness was quickly replaced by another lost thing, my annoyance with women who claim to not be tool inclined.
 
One winter I worked in a bead shop in Alaska, wherein every day I heard women bemoan their tool-using deficiency. Yes, just women, as only about five men came into the shop during my employment and not a one whined that, “Oh I just couldn’t use a wire snipper!”, though one guy did mock our adorable mini anvil designed for detailed hammering work. Women, on the other hand—you know the ones who can use their bare hands to install contact lenses and feminine hygiene products into the most sensitive regions of the body—who can use forks, various brushes, and often even drive cars and run complicated machines such as clothes and dish washers, many of them claim they could never use a drill, which is basically a hair dryer with a thing on the end that you point away from you…

 

Metsy Mondays: For The Muslim Male

Confession: I usually (window) shop on Etsy with myself or my kids in mind. The husband does most of his own shopping, and I fill in the boring gaps: socks, underclothes, and um, socks. Apparently I am not the only one suffering a lack of imagination when it comes to shopping for the Muslim males, especially the Mister Mipsters ones, but yaye for the fabulous makers and sellers on Etsy who keep you guys in mind.

This week’s Metsy Mondays is made for and dedicated to the shouldn’t-be-so-elusive-to-shop-for Muslim Male.

Click on the image to go straight to Etsy.

 

MMMM

 

*every Monday I am featuring the tons of awesome Muslimmade and Islamic finds on Etsy. Please leave your own or your favorite shop in the comments so I can add them to a treasury, iA.

Metsy Mondays: Palestine

This week, with Palestine weighing heavily on many of our hearts, it seemed obvious that this treasury needed to come together. These sixteen unique Muslim made items are just a teeny sample of the amazing works artists and sellers are creating to support Palestine. Enjoy! Support!

*click the image to go straight to Etsy

MM Palestine

Please leave urls of your favourite (or your own!) Muslim sellers on Etsy in the comments. ❤