Crafty Beaches

Part 1 

In December of 2014, I had just closed my storefront and was displaying my furniture and designs in a small, local vintage shop.
I had also happened to recently of suffered a back injury which made furniture refinishing a little bit harder to do.
To continue bringing in revenue while I healed, I got really into sign making.
Thanks to SeaGlaze I was able to do this from the comfort of my couch. Winning.

Sometimes my back would give out on me and I’d end up on the floor slightly paralyzed until the back gods released me from my misery. It was during one of these episodes, that I was sprawled out on the floor and lazily flipping through a craft catalog. A vinyl cutter? For signs? Ok! Just what I needed to up my game. The Silhouette cameo seemed to offer the most flexibility.
Pretty sure flexibility is my love language.
So naturally I jumped on that opportunity as soon I was able to unglue myself the floor.
To begin the game upping, I needed to see this baby in action.
What better way to do that , than in a Facebook group? Or maybe even several Facebook groups? Big small little. I joined them all. With the crafty chaos, I quickly dwindled down to my favorites, but the initial effort was fierce.
Before the dwindling began, I was in one of the more “stuffy” groups and noticed that things were just far too serious around here. It wasn’t long before a rebellious outcry began due to the micromanagement from a power hungry admin. Somewhere amongst that outcry, another member declared they were starting their own group where even sailor mouthed women would be welcome. Sailor you say? Mermaids can outswear them any day. Count me in.

 

Part 2

Something about telling someone to take their stuffy rules and to shove them up their tailpipe is surprisingly refreshing. Liberating even. Try it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars on the life experience scale. 

Always up for a positive life experience, I happily decided to join the spin off group. 

Delighted to have found a group of like minded women, I clicked join. I approved of the concept in itself so much, that I messaged the group initiator and offered to help admin. To this day, I have no idea why I did that. I had never admined a group a day in my life. As it would turn out, neither had she, but the idea of a "room" filled with crafty, sailor mouthed women sounded exactly like my idea of a good time. Turns out, it was hers too. 

The group quickly became a place to laugh, vent, and share our inappropriate humors. It wasn't long before a small handful of us came to interact daily on the group wall. The group wall somehow became our coffee house, our bar, and even a source of online shopping. We'd gather around our keyboards on Friday nights after our kids went to bed, glass of wine in hand, and laugh with each other until the wee hours of the morning. Throughout the week we played games, posted ridiculous selfies, and shared things about our everyday lives. 

In the midst of all this, the stuffy admin from the stuffy rules group, attempted to join our group. Now, by this point and time his stuffy behavior had already awarded him the liberty of our crafty creativity. During one of our many laughter filled evenings, he was the joke. Well, more like a photoshopped version of him with a protruding member from his forehead. I considered leaving this part out. For it is a little rated R, but I'm allowing you your own visual to tone it down if you so desire. I can't lie to you though. The actual image was hilarious. I hope to come across it again one day. 

Him attempting to join our fun town wouldn't have been an issue, if he hadn't done it under a fake woman's profile. Ew, no boys allowed. Especially not sneaky boys. Go away. So naturally we did not grant the fake profile entry access to our fun haven. No stuffies in funville! Being myself, I messaged him to explain that we simply needed a fun place without the dictatorship so it was going to be a no thank you, but assured him the fake profile was a nice touch. Basically, I resorted to awarding him the gold star "you tried award" and sent him on his way. 

Little did I know that our exchange of words would be taken so personally. Within a couple months he had booted me from every group he admined. When he didn't get a reaction from me, he booted all of our crafty friends. Madison and I were equally annoyed by his stuffy behavior. Except Madison was ready to do something about it. She created yet another spin off group, only this time we didn't have any plans to limit it to just 60 women this time. 

I made up my mind then that I was going to build us our own crafty empire that consisted of real women, just like us. Sure we are a little sassy, inappropriate, and sometimes rather crude, but not everyone is susie homemaker. After all, even food can be both sweet and salty. Why can't we?

Part 3

Organizing a growing, crafty empire would require a lot of work. This resulted in Madison and myself communicating through Facebook messenger every day.

It was within these chats that I really began to notice our similarities. 

Somehow, we just seemed to click. There was a silent understanding of some kind. We just GOT each other. We each accepted the other for the mess we are. 

Suddenly a nurse on the internet whom I had never met in person was my best friend. When something sad or exciting happened, she was the first I told. If I told anyone at all. It reached a point where we knew each other's kids names, our eating habits, our bad mom stories and more. We become so apart of each other's daily life that it was more like sisters separated at birth. We enjoyed discovering our similarities and even our differences.

Growing a small empire was going to require more than our two tiny pairs of hands. As the mission of growing a fun, crafty empire began to unfold, we recruited a few more crafty hands from our core group of crafty beaches. 

There were files to load, folders to organize, and documents to create. None of these were really my strong suit, so I opted out of all the above and got to work on recruiting crafty members.

By now the goal was pretty clear. Fun and creative freedom. We were all working together to achieve it. Within 8 months, our skilled & chilled group of crafters had 13,000 people in it. Not bad. Not exactly Nobel Prize winning, but we had achieved what we initially set out to do. Madison and I working together was just like peanut butter and jelly. It just somehow fit. It was during this time of teamwork, that I realized how much Madison reminded me of me. Well, the old me, but I'll get to that in Part 4.  

That group of 13,000 skilled & chilled crafters went underground a couple years ago, but still exists today in the secret underground Facebook world.

Part 4

Initially, the arrangement with the shop next door worked rather well. Due to my Facebook marketing efforts I was often the top artist there when it came to revenue. Somewhere along the way the shop owner and I remained close, even after they signed a lease for the unit I was renting, right under my nose. I tend to have an over forgiving spirit and I had decided I wasn't going to be petty about that one small detail, because after all, I was tired of being trapped in a storefront anyhow. So when they offered me a room in their shop in exchange for my marketing efforts I agreed. By this time, somehow the shop owner and myself had become really close. I spent hours marketing their local businesses. Drawing people in, Taking photos, building their Facebook following, all along side of building my own. 

I noticed my sales slowly declining and tried to place what was different. My efforts, pricing, and style were still all the same, what was wrong? I noticed that the shop owner's once funky and bright style, had slowly started to mirror my own.

Maybe if I hadn't spent so much effort growing her business or if I hadn't considered her a friend this wouldn't have bothered me, but it did. You see, the SEA has always been my main inspiration. I used it in EVERYTHING. My decor, my signs, my home, and even my business name, To see her suddenly start to use the word over and over in her designs caused me to question her loyalty. Maybe that was silly, but intuition proved me right. After a couple months of wondering, I finally realized that not only was she mirroring my designs, but that she was even using my rented space as her own with those Sea inspired designs.  All of the traffic that I was bringing in through Facebook based on my specific style, was benefiting her. 

I made the business decision to remove myself from that equation. I wasn't prepared for the heartbreak that I would feel by the betrayal of a friend. 

In high school I was blessed with amazing girlfriends. Perhaps my expectations were too high because of this, but either way I was heartbroken. It was Madison, from a 1000 miles away, that picked up those pieces. I felt like I lost not only a friend, but that my dream was going to die as well. I've been heartbroken before, but nothing has ever hurt more, than realizing my dream was about to die and I was the reason why.

You see, I had began to spiral down the dark deep rabbit hole of depression. It wasn't long before my normal energetic self, struggled to even leave my bed. The old me, the one that had so much in common with Madison, had once again began to die. Why did the old me do this? Where is she going? Why does she always leave eventually? These are questions I didn't understand the answers to then. I would lay in bed and sob, telling Jose that I thought maybe I needed some kind of help, but I wasn't even sure who or what could even help me. The old me was dead and in her place, was some funsuck just going through the motions. 

I really couldn't stand that funsuck. I've wished her dead a 1,000 times, but you see, if I had continued to try to drown my demons, my angels would have died too. 

Part 5

I would somehow manage to occasionally pull myself together long enough to feed my kids or to refinish a custom furniture piece. In the meantime, I met life with zero enthusiasm. I thought at this point that I was failure at pretty much any and all. Being a wife? Worst wife ever! Being a good mom? Pretty sure I'm screwing up my kids somehow and I just don't know it. I was even failing at following my dreams. I never shared these feelings with anyone. Except maybe Madison. 

Back then, I was ashamed of the way my mind worked. I suppose that's why I am telling you all this now. So you know that feeling shame is useless. Be shameless in your approach to seeking mental healthcare because sometimes, it really all is in your head.

By this time, Madison had a 3rd group going with a mutual friend.  A small "buy-in" group of blanks (blank items that can be personalized). She started off selling her creations on etsy. The orders were coming in steady, but based on the time consuming labor, there was little profit in them. 

She slowly transitioned into online retail, but it was those wretched water bottles that started it all. The minimum order quantity to import these bottles was going to 3,000. In order to meet that MOQ, Madison recruited me. We discovered I had a little gift for group growing. Madison had done her due diligence by having a sample of the product sent to her home. The beautiful sample wasn't what the company ended up delivering. 

In the midst of all this, it became apparent that Madison appeared to know me better than I even knew myself. The new group growth challenge was exactly what I needed to take my mind off of life.  I ended up growing that group to 16,000 people in 8 months and Madison ended up quitting her job as a nurse and dove into water bottle city. 

Somewhere in between all of this happening, it wasn't long before Madison noticed my depressed state, even over the internet. It was then that she recruited me to import as well for her buy in group which was actually really her friend's Facebook group, but Madison had certainly put the most effort into it. It was her baby and it showed. 

Bored with life and the direction it was headed, Shortly after meeting Madison in person, I accepted her offer to sell some crafty blanks.  We worked together, but apart. Same web host, same shipping program, you name it. We shared what we learned and helped each other where our strengths allowed. 

It wasn't long before I got bored of blanks and wanted to sell more items. I had this dream of becoming an entirely sea themed shop. From apparel, to jewelry, to decor. Now my addiction is Starbucks, but back then it was just shopping and change. 

It showed in my business for sure. To a degree it still does. 

Part 6

Before we get caught up in the development of our first business adventure together, let's rewind to when we met for the first time, off the internet. 

In December of 2015, Madison and I had grown so close that the only weird thing to us about our online friendship, was that it was just an online friendship. How could we be so close, but have never met? 

That Christmas, my present started as a FaceTime call from Madison with cue cards. By the end of the call I had gathered that I was getting on a plane?!

Well this was very unlike Jose and right up my alley. He always plays it safe while I prefer to take social risks, so the biggest aspect of this "gift" was actually Jose trusting my judgement for once. Ahhh, it's the little things. 

When it came to actually flying up there and meeting, it surprisingly wasn't weird for me. It felt much more like visiting an old friend than meeting an "internet" friend. Most of the awkward or embarrassing things, we already knew about each other, so how bad could it be really? My biggest fear, was that she would be nothing like her online persona. Just because I'm a mermaid and I love cats, doesn't mean I'm ready for my first catfish experience. Thankfully my fear was quickly put to rest after officially meeting her. She was prettier, shorter, and much sweeter in person that I initially assumed. A tad quieter too, but that didn't last long. 

We spent the weekend blabbing our faces off in Kansas City, Missouri. For additional entertainment, we spent our time visiting antique shops, casinos, and restaurants. 

On one of those evenings, we decided it was far too cold for half of this without a jacket. Browsing for jackets, we stumbled on a department store with an adorable baby section. Always curious and never stopping to think that hey, thats a personal question, don't ask that, I asked Madison about her plans for additional offspring. Her husband was in earshot when she claimed he wasn't interested in having anymore, but that she still wanted another little baby to love. I half jokingly made a comment about him refusing her happiness or some other form of hyperbole. 

The next day, with her eyes big and wide, she turned to me and said, "I think you got me pregnant!"

Wait, what?? I assured her that's silly that she couldn't possibly know already. It had been like what, 13 hours? A few short months later we'd learn, I had gotten her pregnant indeed?! When I say I love to inspire creations, this isn't exactly what I had in mind. 

Part 7

It wasn't long after meeting me in person, that Madison introduced me to a new challenge. By this time, our crafty underground world was a decent size, but it was all for fun. Well mostly. Usually my idea of fun happens to also be other's idea of work so those two concepts are often confused for me. You'll see me gleefully creating a new marketing campaign, while everyone else is glued to a movie on the screen. I experience equal amounts of entertainment and joy, by doing something most would consider "work". 

Somehow she recognized this in me, before I was even fully aware of it myself. It was only fitting that I somehow duplicate my group growth results, in a more business like setting. She and a mutual friend had been running this "blanks" group before, but with a goal of selling 3,000 glitter water bottles, some serious group growth was going to need to happen. This new challenge, turned out to be  exactly what I needed too. Within 8 months, I had grown the group from 1,000 crafters to over 16,000 crafters. The bottles? They turned out to be a huge heartache, but it was those wretched bottles that truly started it all. We may not be here if it weren't for those shiny little bastards. 

It was the sense of accomplishment, accompanied by Madison's invite to come on board as a "blanks" vendor too, that was just the distraction I needed to climb out of the wretched hole I had been in. Initially it was a great pairing for me in every sense. Crafty? Check! Enthusiasm? Check! Shopping? Check! After all, I wouldn't be Jess Sea if I wasn't the most impatient person on the planet. Due to my perpetual state of boredom, it wasn't long before I took a group that was initially intended for crafty blanks and turned it into something a whole lot more. Being my mermaid self and refusing to sit still mentally, physically, or even in a business sense, I started to constantly import and experiment with new products including electronics, apparel, jewelry, and other random gifts. It wasn't long before Treasures by the Sea transitioned to be not only a craft supply vendor, but an apparel/gift shop as well.  

Somewhere along the way, Madison's side of the business had followed a similar curve.  At one point there were four sellers in our crafty blank group. Each of us used the same shipping program, the same web host, and the same customer base. We worked this way, together, but hundreds of miles apart, with very few complications. 

Even when Madison and I took our families to Disney together, we had a blast  in spite of her being fairly pregnant by that time. She looked super sad when we hugged each other bye. Little did she know, that I was already planning her baby shower weekend visit only a few weeks away. That is when the chaos ensued. 

I'm torn between skipping over these ugly parts or diving in....

Chapter 8

Having gotten my dear friend pregnant in the first place, it only made sense that I would attend her baby shower. What started as a family shower with a surprise visit from her baby daddy (me) , turned into a very thoughtful, well planned event of a whole group of crafty beaches celebrating our love child. A baby party surrounded by all of her favorite crafty beaches? Madison will love it! A few of her friends that I wasn't particularly close to, were struggling with the funds to be able to afford the expenses that came with surprising our pregnant friend. It seemed only fitting to offer to pay for a meal and a few other minor expenses to ensure she was surrounded by those she loved. If only I'd known then, what I know now, I probably still would have bought them a meal or two. Only this time, it would be with the intentions of covering it in hot sauce and pouring it down their pants.Sometimes I'm a mermaid, sometimes I'm a seawitch. 

The baby shower event came and went. Several of the crafty beaches attended and a good time was had by mostly all. Or so I thought. 

You ever get the feeling that someone doesn't like you? You can't explain it or prove it so you ignore your instinct? Let's just say if there was one thing I've learned through this entire journey, is that instinct is very powerful indeed. 

Upon returning, our little group of crafty beaches never felt the same to me. Something was off. I couldn't place it or explain it. A room that was once warm and full of smartass, big hearted women was now chilly and unwelcoming. A room of comfort and strength was suddenly a room of catty mean girls. It occurred to me at the time, that it was me and not them. Since everything else started to fall apart around the same time, I assumed I needed a med change. Turns out, both were right. 

The group of feisty women that Madison and I started together suddenly seemed to be filled with women that wanted nothing to do with me.

This became even more prominent when Madison and I got into our first fight.

Well to me at least. It may have even been our only fight because no others come to mind. We went from being ingrained into each others lives to being driven apart. We went from being best friends, to me being sent screen shots of her best friends, ones that I had even helped financially, trash talking me in front of our crafty customers.These people were supposed to be my friends too. I didn't understand.  I was mortified, but more than mortified I was hurt. 

Their petty actions grew and grew. The only difference was the name or the face changed every few months, but the unhealthy behavior continued. This wasn't what crafty beaches was about. It wasn't why we started and I certainly wasn't okay with those types of changes. 

As Madison's business took off, mine was failing.  My whole life seemed to be at that point. I left our group of crafty beaches vowing off female friendships forever this time. People I had assumed were my friends, spent their free time online in crafty forums tarnishing my reputation with falsehoods and half truths. Not only did they focus on me as their target right under Madison's nose, they did the same to several others as well. It wouldn't be until much later that the pieces all started to fit. To top it all off, my seasonal depression had set in and I was struggling to get out of bed. 

Suddenly Madison's enemies found an interest in being my friend. I let the distraction of their humor and conspiracy theories mend my broken heart. Once I figured out that a friendship with me, was more about their egos than actually being friends with me, I dropped them too. I wasn't interested in their conspiracy theories. What I was really looking for was the truth. By this time my friends had formed their own conspiracy theories too. I was lucky to hear it and see it from both sides. By lucky, I mean unlucky obviously. 

This level of stress and chaos when both my business and personal world were at each other's throats, was probably one of the most stressful times of my life. What do you do when your social life and your career are all one in the same and the all reside online? At one point all I could refer to the entire dynamic was as the "Craft Wars". There were teams and sides and total back stabbing chaos. I've never seen anything quite like it. I went from being head cheerleader in high school, to begging my mom friends to "play" with me? 

I resigned from my association with the crafty blanks group once the chaos turned into full blown online harassment.The effort that went into making my life hell, was a small glimpse of what they were actually capable of. Little did I know, she wasn't the mastermind behind all the chaos and those I assumed innocent, weren't so innocent after all. Turns out, she was so busy she barely noticed I left. By the time she figured it out, it was too late. I had disappeared.

Part 9

I had spent the last couple years where my only social life, existed online. 

My career was online as well. The only thing I had outside of Facebook land, was my family. When it started to impact even my family, I knew it was time for a change. 

These web based crafty kingdoms that I had spent my last two years nurturing and developing, suddenly became a source of chaos verse comfort. I couldn't stay. Not that anyone even asked me to. No one did. Not even Madison. I went from being captain of the cheerleading team to the most hated girl on the squad. What did I expect? I'm no one special. Even Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. It was a humbling experience and brought me closer to enlightenment. I had to learn many things along this journey, but perhaps the most important thing I have learned, is that expectation is the root of all heartache. Look back on any time you were disappointed in life. Do you see it too? If you dig deeper and look closely you'll see your expectation, right there. Buried under your pain. I left everyone and every group I had helped built and started my own. Well, almost everyone. I did bring one friend. 

Sometimes as mom, our social interactions are so limited that as an extrovert, you'll take what you can get. Sometimes the need for interaction would even cloud my judgement. Oddly enough the friend I chose to bring with me was woman that pretty openly hated me previously, but I still somehow adored (love yourself ladies, it goes such a long way) and she befriended me after we had brought her on as fourth seller in our group of crafty blanks. She was funny and warm. Little did I know the bitterness that lurked below, but I adored her so much, that I even brought her with me on my new group journey.

We shared depression as a common bond. It's always been a soft spot of mine I suppose. Even in the midst of this when Madison and I weren't speaking, I was still there for her when fell down the rabbit hole too. In a similar fashion, I planned a surprise trip to cheer up my new funny "coworker" friend. Typically this time of year I would have visited Madison, but by now I was so convinced by outside sources that she had zero interest in maintaining a friendship with me, that I didn't volunteer. Truthfully, I had a great time on this trip. I felt loved and accepted and very well fed, but it was something that my funny friend said, that made me wonder just how well I knew her or if at all. When she went to bed early on New Year's eve I amused myself by cuddling her cat.

After months of not speaking, shortly before midnight, Madison called. 

It was odd for many reasons. As close as we had been we never talked on the phone.We both hated it. The only time we talked on the phone was during her pregnancy when she was nearly having a panic attack and I felt it was my human duty to not be a total robot. Plus I flat out hated seeing her cry. I still do. 

This midnight FaceTime call taught me something else. It taught me the second lesson of my journey which is often a foreign concept especially amongst women. 

The second lesson I learned on my journey? Feelings aren't facts. Say it again even if you don't like the way it feels. Feelings aren't facts. Except maybe hunger. Is that even a feeling or no? We can come back to that. 

So after months of little to no interaction with Madison, I answered her FaceTime call. I sucked in my breathe and clicked accept. Imagine my surprise when someone I was convinced hated me, broke into tears asking me where I've been. She begged me to tell her where her best friend had gone and why I left her. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I hated her friends. That the people she adored, were the very definition of what I was against. The very same people she loved were the ones making my life hell. So I didn't tell her. I listened instead. I listened when she told me she loved me and she missed me, I listened to the pain in her voice. Before we hung up she sadly told me " I just want you in my life. I felt like you and me...we could have done anything together. We could have built an empire together." By now her words were slurring and I could tell these weren't sober thoughts. I thought about the 30,000 people between our handful of groups that we had built together and sadly responded with "we kind of did".

That night, I thought that maybe just maybe abandoning everything we built together wasn't the answer.The rumors I'd been fed of her being a narcissist suddenly seemed so silly. How did I ever fall for that garbage? A drunk mind speaks sober thoughts. Even the next day, when my funny friend tried to convince me it was just a show, I still wasn't convince. There was something so genuine and heartfelt about Madison's tone and voice. 

Within 3 days however several things happened that made me question my instinct. The only one I remember was the one that hurt the most. The group I spent so much time building, developing and nurturing that now contained over 16,000 people? My admin privileges were removed from it. I was being kicked out. Assuming it was Madison, I dove head first into my new craft group without looking back. 

The truth is depression can make you feel all sorts of ways. After all, depression is lonely and it is irrational. It doesn't appreciate the logic or the facts. Thankfully, feelings aren't facts. It was my determination to distinguish the two, that finally lead me to the truth. 

Chapter 10

At the beginning of 2017, something in my entire dynamic shifted after eliminating a few negative elements from my life. I had accepted that Madison and I's friendship would never be what it once was. By this time I had certainly done my fair share of retaliation along the way. Both of us including our friendship circles had been at each other's throats. Neither of us trusted the other by this point if we are being transparent. I woke up in 2017 truly thinking that Crafty Beaches was a closed chapter in my life. I was done with the chaos. I simply wanted peace. 

That month, I would finally find it in the form of a freak accident. It's funny how life events that seemingly have no connection, can influence each other.

The stress from the previous year had worn on me physically as well. I was getting thinner by the day and I wasn't dieting and I certainly wasn't exercising. That part was every woman's dream, until it wasn't. The weight had kept coming off. I had lost 30 pounds in 6 months without even trying. The result? There are two things I can recall from that time.Lots of blood tests trying to determine what exactly was "wrong" with me and that none of my clothes fit except leggings. 

One mid January morning, I was driving home from taking my kids to school. 

Coming to a red light, I pressed the brake with the toe of my boot. My once cozy boots were now a floppy fit. My foot bent sending a shot of pain straight to brain. That didn't stop me from repeatedly trying to press the brake with my injured foot. I can't remember much, but I can remember the wave of pain shooting straight to my brain over and over until everything went black. 

The next thing I remember was waking up in the ambulance. For a few brief moments I thought that perhaps depression had finally succeeded in taking what it was after, my life. It was in this moment that something within me shifted. My memory was shifty as well, but the searing pain in my foot gave me a clue. Luckily for me, a part of me did die that day. The part that cared too much what others think? The part of me that thought that any of this nonsense was worth this hassle? The part of me that was willing to play by someone else's rules? That chick died in the street that day and in her place woke Jess Sea.

From that moment on I haven't taken depression lightly. Something about that moment lead me to realize the severity of depression. It had the ability to steal my joy and destroy my progress. It was time for me to be serious about my mental health. I did the thing I hate to do and I made the calls I needed to make to get help. I swallowed the pills I didn't want to take. Now I do it daily without shame. Why? Because it's proven to change my life. Because it lead me to me, Jess Sea.

Part 11

It was this time of year last year, that everything fell apart. Except me. The accident had just happened. Rumor had it that my husband's assignment at NASA would be ending soon. It was a time where it was like losing my own "job" alongside Jose losing his. By now the final recipe was in place and I was happily distributing it as well as using it for myself. Jose was welding during the day and mixing SeaPaint at night. I began to paint more and more. The accident left me pretty useless for a while aside from the use of my arms. I attempted to hobble around on a scooter, but that proved more dangerous than helpful. So back to painting it was, sitting down. 

One day while hobbling to the kitchen I tripped. I grabbed the closest chair and managed to clumsily sit down. I don't know if I was loopy from the pain meds or just irrationally happy. I began to laugh. I looked down at my hideously oversized foot and laughed even harder. This was hilarious. Nothing was going right, but you know what? None of it mattered. Why? Because for the first time in a long time I was OK. I was more than ok. Sure circumstances were sort of garbage. Home life was stressful. Work was stressful. People I thought were my friends offered zero kind of help while I was essentially out of work. There were days I was literally crawling to the kitchen just to make sure my kids were fed. I looked ridiculous. 

So I did the only thing I knew to do. I kept laughing. I looked down again at my hideously elephant like foot and thought, damn. Madison would appreciate this. Nurses love this. Just LOOK at this monster foot. 

It had been a few days since the accident so I had already adjusted to the shock of it. I had accepted my current situation for what it was and I was just relieved to be alive. The compassion Madison greeted me with surprised me. I was even more surprised after months of not really speaking, she sent me the correct brace for my foot in the mail. Out of all my friends along the way, Madison was ironically still trying to take care of me. 

Shortly after that, I forgot her friends existed. The truth is, none of it mattered anymore. After the accident, I simply stopped caring about any of the Eastside westside garbage. Instead I focused on me. I went on with my healing both mentally and physically. I dropped every toxic relationship I still had. Even the ones that hurt to lose. Sometimes, in healing. You need to be selfish to really SEA. By this time SeaPaint had started to take off compared to it's initial launch in my old group of crafty blanks. All the sitting from the accident allowed me the opportunity to more aggressively enforce my marketing campaigns. When your brain is wired like mine, there is no sitting still. This forced "time out" was when some of my most creative marketing started to take place. Within a few short months we went from a group of 5,000 to 30,000. Ironically enough, it was Madison that encouraged the next monumental step that lead me to where I am in 2018. Extremely happy indeed. 

Part 12

Before I even healed physically, I was meeting life with a new sense of enthusiasm. 

At the time I was moving at the speed of light. Not stopping or slowing down for much of anything. The accident had instilled a fire within me that I had forgotten I even had. I became determined to finish creating the crafty kingdom I had previously started.I no longer cared about anything with the exception of my family and SeaPaint. So I focused entirely on them. Well, and shopping. Retail therapy never gets old. In fact, that was the very first name of this group. 

When I had initially started the group, I had brought along my funny friend. The initial concept was a social and interactive shopping experience for an assortment of it items. She chose to branch off into her own group which allowed me the opportunity to change the name to something more fitting to the crafty environment I was looking to achieve. 

After the accident what I truly wanted became crystal clear. I wanted the big picture that I couldn't seem to get out of my head. The big picture of crafty women, doing crafty things together, but in our own homes. I wanted what our small group of crafty beaches once was and what it was meant to be, but I wanted it on a much larger and supportive scale than 60 women. I wanted women that felt alone anywhere to feel like they were apart of something. Something bigger. Something better. Something life changing. Like a supportive sisterhood with a common interest. 

Somewhere along the way, the project stopped being about what I wanted and it became about what other women needed and what I could show them. 

I was more than happy with a modest income and fulfilling my own dreams on a small scale. What I didn't plan on was several things happening. 

1. SeaPaint becoming rapidly recognized as a superior product 

2. Revealing my ultimate secret (SeaGlaze)

and last but certainly not least, because you are the most......

3. You. The SeaCult. 

Turns out, what I set out to create was a sisterhood indeed. I hope you've enjoyed being part of the SeaCult. We're glad you're here. 

If you aren't a member yet, stick around. We may be the right kind of "church" for you. 

#seacult 

Part 13- 

Taking care of my mental health and diving into my mental state along the way became a huge part of my story because it literally saved my life. If not physically at least the quality of life and that in itself is priceless. It took the possibility of losing this beautiful mess we call life and totaling my car before, for me to appreciate it. Beautiful mess and all. 

After the accident, I found a new sense of clarity that became my life guide.It's amazing what your mind can accomplish when it isn't weighed down with racing or obsessive thoughts. 

Part of my mental health journey included a lot of solitude. Instead of engaging in unhealthy behaviors with people that were unable to add value to my life or well being,I began self medicating with SeaPaint and my work. You'll see me using it as a form of a distraction to this day. On days where I'm especially anxious, you'll find me in my element, singing SeaPaint praises to the world. My goal is to acquire the nickname "the paint whisperer", but we can try that out later. 

 2017 began by me teaching myself a beautiful, marvelous irreplaceable gift. 

That gift? Teaching myself to to channel my anxious energy into productivity. This small change literally turned my world upside down. In a very good way. 

Something else I started doing in 2017? Saying yes to the things I wanted to say yes to and saying no to the things that I didn't want. 

So when Madison invited me to a business vendor show in Vegas, how could I say no when I wanted to say yes? 

Never having been to Vegas, I knew one way or another this would be an eye opening experience. Shortly after arriving and a local casually warning me not buy weed from the homeless because it's really PCP, I knew I wasn't in Melbourne, FL anymore. Umm. Hi. Nice to meet you too sir.

Where in the world am I? Oh, right. Vegas. Makes sense. I LOVED the new experience. So different than home and my blackjack game is kinda on fleek. That's right. I said fleek. Deal with it. 

It was actually in Vegas when 2016's events began to make sense. The conspiracy theories that seemed plausible about my tiny friend, seemed even more ridiculous by this point. 

You see, shortly after booking that trip, we received some pretty life altering news. 

Jose's assignment at NASA was cut short. What we thought would be 3 months away, blind sighted us just days before leaving for our trip. It was Madison, who without prompting or question, gifted us $1000 without any expectation of returned payment. To this day, if I even hint about paying it back, she starts yelling. Every now and then just to see her get riled up, I'll offer to pay her back. It's not my smartest game, but it is a little fun. 

With each passing hour of our trip, it became more impossible to believe that her friendship for the last two years hadn't been genuine. It was on that trip that darkness truly came to light and I finally saw the conspiracy theories for what they were and left them all behind. 

Anyone that knows me knows a few things.

1. I don't get angry often, but when I do, I get angry ALL the WAY. Zero in between.

2.I forgive ALL the way. I'm in or I'm out. If I'm out, I kind of forget you exist. Until something reminds me, like writing this blog for the #seacult about my journey. 

In 2016 I had certainly been mad all the way in response to it all and I acted accordingly in true sea witch fashion. Even out did myself a few times there. Truthfully, I have regrets and wish I had taught myself to channel my energy for good much sooner. Better late than never I suppose?

Somewhere along the way I had lost my trust in my own instinct. When I finally found it again, is when everything magically began to change. 

I recently realized that I love the same way I rage. All the way in. Or the way out. So in 2017 when I asked myself, do I bother repairing a bruised friendship with my favorite crafty beach? Why yes. Count me in. 

Shortly upon returning home from our trip, SeaPaint was really starting to take off. 

By now Jose was the paint cook and I had moved on to nurturing the business. Basically marketing my fins off and packing orders as quickly as I could. I had already hired my childhood best friend Nicole and she was working along side me. What a match made in heaven. She just gets me and trusts my vision and takes care of the dirty details. We are so different, but make a great team.I appreciate her so so much and the role in the company to this day enables us to be a better version of sea. 

I had spent two years trying to build a SeaPaint customer base. It was slowly developing. 

With Jose out of work I admittedly began to panic a little. My solution was him finding work as quickly as possible to alleviate the financial induced stress, but I was beginning to feel like Jose didn't want to return to work. Shortly after that, he confirmed my fear. He wanted to work for me. Naturally this required a little more panicking. 

Work with Jose all day long? Like the whole entire day and then I go home and he's there too? Yikes. I was hesitant. Actually I was more than hesitant, I was petrified. 

How could the business support 3 full time employees? 2 months ago I was juggling a mere $500 in business account. The dreamer in me loved the idea of the possibility, but the business side of me pointed out every glaring hole of this delicate balancing act. Risky is the word that came to mind. 

So what turned it all around? Complaining to Madison about how Jose was going to induce a heart attack within my soul, she said "Dude. Your paint is a big deal. YOU are big freaking deal and you just don't know it yet."

I weighed what she was said and thought, she's so sweet to me. I wasn't fully convinced, but her faith in me did help decrease my elevated heart rate. 

Day by day our revenue began to climb. One by one the 5 star reviews started to add up. I noticed the only complaints were about my attitude and not the product. Hmm. I happen to love my spunk, so the complaints about my personality didn't bother me much. I couldn't help but notice the positive response that I was receiving all around about SeaPaint. 

Jose told me that if things hadn't taken off enough for him to work for Treasures by the Sea full time by April, that he would return to work. 

The group was growing by the day, but I knew I needed to pull out the ultimate secret for this be full force. Not only was my own household counting on me, but Nicole's was as well. Lucky for me, I work best under pressure.

One evening while Jose making batches of paint, I was rambling off the shades we needed restock. In there a threw in a special request. With an entirely different formula. He looked at me confused. Just do it I said. I need an espresso and a cream. Just make it happen. I'll explain later.

Up until this moment, I had always made my own SeaGlaze. The formula threw him off guard, but he mixed me up a batch anyway. I ignored his argument about it sitting on a shelf blah blah. "Don't worry" I said, "it won't."

Within a few short minutes of the batch cooling down, I was all over it. I tested it to make sure the consistency was of the same as my own over the last couple years. 

Satisfied with the result, I quickly put together a very quick Feather Weather video. I knew this magic secret was just the beginning of SeaGlaze's appeal. Little did I know just how very effective this poorly filmed video would be. Before I knew it there were 50,000 views. Then 100,000. Today it's closer to 500,000. From there this entire wave we've been riding has been a blur. It's felt like a dream ever since. Is this even my life? Who's life is this anyway? What kind of magic is this??

From that moment on the group began to grow at a rapid rate. We went from having a little group of 5,000 members to over 20,000 within just a few short months.  Next thing I knew it was 30,000 and still growing. 

We went from being an underground secret to selling 500 jars a day, practically overnight. Needless to say Jose still hasn't returned to work and I'm finally in my element, swimming free. Dancing amongst visions and progress. Balancing new creations and formulas with copious amounts of time with my treasures, by the sea. 


When I asked Madison this week, why she never gave up on me , she told me " I couldn't give up on you. You never gave up on me. You were always there when I really needed you."

 

The story isn't over. In fact, I know its mostly just beginning, but as "fate" would have it, the initial two SeaGlaze demo videos I released changed our life way quicker than I had even bargained for. Within two months, we were encountering problems that I never thought we would even get to have. 

I went from begging Jose to find new welding work, to realize that I was already making this WORK. It took far too long for that to truly sink in. Every week, I waited for our sales to drop, but they didn't. Each week, I would hold my breathe and will my dream into existence. Not that I think this mental exercise accomplished anything except self soothing, but for me that was enough. I spent month after month dreaming with my eyes wide open and playing Eminem's song "Lose Yourself" on repeat to get me through the hard days. You only get one shot and I had zero intentions of not taking it this time. 
This wasn't a fearless journey. I did it ALL scared. Terrified even. The reality is, I've never been so scared in my whole life. When you feel like you have everything you've always wanted, at the edge of your finger tips, It gives an extra incentive to just keep swimming. So I did. I swam my heart out. 
There's a vulnerability to sharing parts of yourself with the world and sharing my magic potions with the world proved no different for me, but the reward and the innovation outweighed my fears. It still does. Only now, my fears are fewer and farer in between and I'm growing stronger every day. 
Crafty Beaches- A New Beginning ......coming soon
With Jose coming on board and assuming many roles that I previously had taken on myself, I dove into trouble shooting and streamlining. Luckily for us, this is one of my strengths. I'm not sure where we would be today without this obsessive critical thought process I tend to gravitate towards too. I became so busy troubleshooting holes in our systems that I neglected a Lot of the basics in the name of existing customer satisfaction. Once I realized which basics were being neglected, I started to tackle those too. It wasn't long before I truly needed a clone. 
Routine tasks have never my strong suit. Intuition and trial and error have taught me that there is great strength and profit when we learn to delegate our weaknesses. Do you think it is a complete coincidence that each human has their own area of excellence? 
I no longer do. We are designed to compliment each other and operate in social circles. It's biological. For this reason alone, it only makes sense to assign those to tasks to which they excelled. It was the most efficient  and effective solution to my weaknesses. Little did I know, it was the secret to harvesting my strengths as well. 
Running my own business has required a fierce honesty with myself that I wasn't always comfortable with. It took me two years, well really my entire life, that I was overcomplicating things. Expectations were the root of my heartache of course so I adjusted those too. 
Part of the last few years I spent really diving into my sense of self. Improving what I could and releasing what I couldn't. I sought out to a be an organized, focused,efficient business. Ignorantly, I thought each of these traits had to come from me. Thankfully I was wrong. Surround yourself with those that lift you higher and do the same for them in return. This is my key to success. I'm no super woman. I can't and don't do it all, but what I lack in organization, I make up for in creativity and drive. We all have our place in this machine of existence, we just have to find it. 
In order to go forwards, I'll need to go backwards with this story. In order for the end to make sense, you'll need to understand the beginning. The beginning of Crafty Beaches decline. It was a chaotic time. The falling out amongst our circles, can literally be connected to the same few people over and over. At some point it just becomes an observable science experiment. What happens when exhibit A interacts with exhibit B? Predictable behavior patterns. Sometimes I thought maybe I was the only crazy one for noticing it. Later I'd learn, I wasn't the crazy one after all. Just the only one crazy enough to say something about it. When karma finally came for one of them on February 13th, I can't say I wasn't delighted.I even made sure to tell her such.
It was hard to believe, the very same person that sent me running to the door, was the same one that successfully scammed several women out of about $4k. My instinct never predicted this or any of the scandal that surrounded that entire ordeal.  If your friends aren't happy for your success or an attempt to better yourself in any way, they aren't your friends.  Swim far far way. They will make you their prey. If you let them. Too bad no one eats me unless I let them. Who needs enemies with friends like that? No way Jose. By this time, I was glad that Madison's newish few friends had never seemed to like me and was just glad to be free of them all. I left them to their chaotic world and returned to my peaceful bubble. That night, I counted my lucky stars and dove back into Seaville. The magic was waiting for me. 
I wasn't the same girl I was in 2016, because she died in January of 2017. 
This new version of me was more focused, driven, determined, and simply more at peace than I had been in a very long time. 
The different element in my life? I taught myself a beautiful, resourceful gift. Somehow, I was able to begin channeling my anxious or hyperactivity into useful tasks and tying them with big picture goals. It was like an awakening in my soul that I can't quite explain. Everything started clicking. One thing after the other. My brain was firing rapidly and for months on end I forced my body to cooperate as well, which came easy in this state. So very easy. Maybe it's hypomania, maybe its hyper activity, but either way it's a gift that I now welcome verses fight. Working with the wave instead of against it so to speak. 
The end result was hours and hours of my time went into not only improving company workflow and our processes, but how the customer sees as well. Starting with our website down to our ship times. We are still constantly improving both band have a long way to go, but oh how far we've come. 
As SeaPaint continued to grow, I luckily became surrounded with some truly phenomenal people.
From friends to admins to customers to employees. Life was perfect, but in the summer of 2017 my stress levels began to grow. 
The demand had exceeded the supply. Both paint and myself were rapidly depleting. 
Instinctively and mathematically I knew it was time for me to start delegating more and then some more. SeaPaint was my little love child with myself and there was no part of me that wanted to give up any of my baby, but I knew that in order for SeaPaint to thrive, I needed to start letting go just a little. 
Once I realized both the cognitive and economical benefits to relinquishing tasks that I didn't love, our numbers magically began to climb. My whole life I was taught to power through boring tasks and occasionally I still might, but my hyperactive mind wasn't made for task work. It was made for innovation and creativity. A bird is not stupid because it does not know how to swim. 
I'm not broken because I don't fit the perfect mold.
I am me and I no longer apologize for it.
Nourish your strengths and your weaknesses will appear insignificant. 
It really works for me, it may for you too.
Everything was slowly falling into place. I was slowly understanding that this potentially wasn't a few month fad. Around that time the crazy crafter strolled in, hiding her crazy under the radar. It wasn't until we were enjoying our 7 year anniversary cruise in Mexico, did we start to get a clue. The clues just keep on coming, 

63 comments

  • Wow Jess! thanks so much for sharing your story. I struggle with depression as well. Your success gives me hope for those days I can’t get out of bed. You truly are an inspiration and you’ve been through so much. I hope that the accident has minimal impact on your daily life now. I live with chronic pain and understand that struggle. I am so glad that you and your company exist! Hugs my fellow mermaid.💜

    Becky Culp
  • Oh Jess. You are such an amazing woman. In fact, I feel we are the same person, except I’m and introvert. You’ve reminded me that it’s time to get over myself and get back on my AD meds. You’ve reminded me of my desire to reinvent myself. Now that I’ve finally stopped being a “lurker” and ordered some paint, I imagine I won’t ever stop! Thanks for being such a damn inspiration!

    Lisa S
  • This testimony is a tribute to being true to yourself! I admire your honesty, insight & willingness to share your story. Swim free, Sweet Mermaid! Thank you for sharing your journey!

    Judy young
  • Holy guacamole I’m crying. You are an inspiration. I’m so glad I finally took the time to read this. I’m patiently awaiting my first paints, but after reading this, I know I belong here. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for this community. This is so much more than paint.

    Kirstin Yvonne Spencer (Jamerson)
  • So very inspirational and honest. You’ve taken every curve at full speed. Won some, lost a lot. But, in the end found yourself. And built an amazing life which seems so full of love.
    (Jess, I am a counsellor if you want to FaceTime talk or email…….)
    You don’t need to post that! ❤️

    Louise

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