Updated: Aug 25, 2018
I want to tell you my story. Who I am and how I got here. Why did I start Ocelli Creations in the first place?
Let's take it back to the beginning.
The late 80’s-90’s:
I grew up living now what I know to be a dreamy childhood. Dreamy for me anyway. I ran around outside in a big backyard, mostly unsupervised. I caught snakes, collected owl pellets, chased butterflies and damselflies with a net, watched baby birds grow up, found turtles sunning themselves. I knew the names of all the trees on our property. I recognized the resident ducks (we had a pond). I named the biggest snake in the yard. You get the idea. I was a through-and-through nature child.
Along with my inherent nature-admiration, I have always been a compulsive collector. I picked up feathers, robin egg shells, fallen bird nests, bones, shells, rocks, snakeskin sheds, acorns, and really anything else that struck my fancy. I couldn’t help myself. My pockets were always full of these treasures, and my parents (thank you parents!) let me store all of my found objects in a special dresser in my childhood bedroom. It was chock-full of…the outdoors.
In school, my love for nature and the outdoors was apparent too. I was thrilled to learn anything about plants or animals. I distinctly remember LOVING the rainforest unit. So many cool mammals, birds, amphibians! As a part of the rainforest curriculum, we learned about something that would rock my world forever. Deforestation. My little second grade brain couldn’t comprehend destruction of the environment, stripping of a forest, displacement of animals, or worse, needlessly killing animals *and* their habitat. I must’ve told my parents immediately when I got home from school, because within a short period of time they agreed to do an ‘adopt-a-rainforest’ program where we supported the conservation of a parcel of rainforest. My love of nature was now inextricably paired with environmentalism.
During middle school, high school, and college, I spent less time outside connected to my roots. In traditional education, love of nature = science, so I pursued science as much as possible. I took as many science classes as I could in high school, and continued that into college. At one point I almost totally side-tracked into psychology and photography, but veered back to biology. I finally ended up with a neurobiology degree. How could I tie that back to the environment? My way forward became fuzzy at this point. I couldn’t see a clear path to a career that would be fulfilling.
Finally, I determined a way forward, and it tied back to my early incensed moment as a second grader when I discovered that people do harm to the environment. I would get a graduate degree studying environmental toxicology, and in theory, this degree would set me up for careers where I could play a role in protecting the environment as a scientist. So, I moved to Raleigh, NC and dove into graduate studies. My classes were eye-opening as I learned about all the harmful chemicals in our food, homes, gardens, the air, our rivers…practically everywhere. All of this knowledge was valuable, but certainly not uplifting! Once my classes were over and I began doing research full time, I felt really disconnected from my ultimate goal, and as a result deeply unhappy. Not only is the culture of graduate school total crap, but research is very…tedious (and slow, and frustrating), and as it turns out, not something I enjoy doing.
Despite how much I disliked graduate school, living in Raleigh managed to connect me back to nature. Maybe this was because I was so unhappy that my psyche pulled me back to something that resonated. Or maybe because nature can be a little *in your face* here. There are insects I’d never seen before like cicadas, luna moths, and tree hoppers. There are reptiles I’d never seen in the wild like copperheads and snapping turtles. I started noticing birds, and we have so many beautiful birds. Then the mammals -- foxes, deer, and woodchucks right in town! But it’s not just the critters, the flowers, trees, grasses all felt inspiring too.
I’m about to wrap up my graduate degree after 6 looooong years. I’ve come to realize that the careers I dreamed of weren’t what I once had thought. The reality of research is uninspiring, budgets are tight due to lack of funding, and protecting the environment always seems like an afterthought in the minds of those with power and influence. I started to think more about forging my own path, connecting the things I love in a way that brings meaning to my life, and hopefully bring others with me. So, I started playing with preserving little beautiful bits of nature in resin, because I couldn’t help myself from picking them up anyway. Once a collector, always a collector. Jewelry felt like the right way to honor these little natural masterpieces that come and go each season.
I can’t overstate how important is has been to have found my friends, Nicole and Lexie, during this time who also love nature, crafting, and art. The three of us have spent many, many hours together working on various projects. Sometimes we are all working on some aspect of the resining process, other times we are all working on different projects but in each other’s company, and for a while we all worked hard on my wedding decorations (I’m eternally grateful for their help!!!). The power of encouraging and enthusiastic friends is incredible.
But at the end of the day, I don’t want to only make jewelry, because appreciating nature is only one piece of the puzzle. I also want to use my hard-earned environmental toxicology degree and my passion for conservation to empower people to make choices in their life that are more environmentally friendly. To protect the planet, but also ourselves. Small changes, like planting wildflowers, choosing a different shampoo, skipping the straw, supporting an ecofriendly company, or reusing a glass jar, add up to big changes when we all do them together. They send a message that we, people of the world/consumers, are paying attention and don’t want to damage the environment or our own bodies. That is why this blog exists in partnership with handmade jewelry. I want to share what I’ve learned about safe-guarding health, help connect people to the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and also share the behind the scenes of what Ocelli Creations is all about.
My dream is that as a culture/society/species, we will value the environment above anything else, and work hard to keep it pristine and healthy.
Want to read more about how we got started? Check out our recent feature in the Polish section of Raleigh Magazine.
Behind The Scenes is a blog series that peeks into the creative process at Ocelli Creations. Everything from style inspiration, current projects, creative books, and technique tips are covered in these posts.