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Quality over Quantity: You can’t pour from an empty cup!


Many people ask me why I don’t hire more employees to handle order volume. We do have two hired employees who package and attach the clasps. But I am still the only one stamping, cutting and filing your bars! There are several reasons for this. It’s not that I don’t want to pay someone to help. It’s that for now, I am the only one that can stamp your orders with precision. This is because we use specialty custom fonts. Each and every one of our stamps require a huge amount of precision to get the letters to connect properly. We also cut and hand finish al your bars, which take skill and care. I value quality over quantity, which is why I have decided that I will not outsource this very important step of the process.

However, having said that, I am also a wife and mother to 3 young children who need me. For the last year, I’ve been pulling 14 hour work days at least 4-5 days a week. My children need me and I cannot be away from them for so long. (And I’m pretty sure my husband misses my cooking!) I was hoping to be able to stay open 24/7 but because I value quality so much, I cannot.

Therefore, I am going to have to continue to open and close with order volume. I will do my best to stay open for as long as I can, but I will need to close when I reach capacity. This will vary during the slow/busy seasons. I will continue to find more support in areas that can alleviate some of the workload for me. And I only close and open because I want to make sure that each necklace receives the time that it deserves. I don’t like to cut corners around here, and you all know I take pride in the fact that each thick bar is made one at a time with craftsmanship! I want to continue with this standard of excellence in quality. Please be patient with me. I’m so sorry I won’t be able to stay open all the time but I do promise the following things:

9 THINGS I PROMISE TO YOU!

  1. I aim to shorten turnaround time so that you can get your goodies as fast as possible, with smaller batches.
  2. I’ll keep the website viewable when we are not taking orders.
  3.  I’ll update my social media often with opening dates as much as I can and also send out newsletters for when we open.
  4. I’ll occasionally send newsletter subscribers coupons and goodies.
  5. I’ll always vary the opening times so that you all have a chance to order regardless of what your schedule looks like
  6. I will try to do smaller, shorter batches so that you don’t have to wait too long to open.
  7. I will do my best to respond to emails within 24 hours.
  8. I promise to continue offering high quality, thick and luxurious bars and fresh new designs!
  9. I will share a little more behind the scenes and blog a bit more!

Sooooo the point of my very long post is this: I cherish and value every one of my customers, and I want to continue to spend ample time on each necklace that you order. But, I’m also a mom of 3 littles, so I need to only take on as much as I can handle at once without compromising on quality. I’m doing this because I value you. I would much rather take fewer orders and know that they are done with care, than send out a ton of orders that are not done properly. I know that it will be frustrating at times. I know that some will choose to purchase elsewhere because of the opening/closing. (I promise my necklaces are worth the wait!) And I promise to do my best to open as much and as often as I can, so that there are plenty of chances to snag a necklace and to update you, but please know that I will need to open and close continually because I care about your orders!

 

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO GET YOUR ORDER IN:

  1. Sign up for the newsletter!
  2. If you don’t want the newsletter, you can sign up to be notified for your item of choice! You can do this by viewing any listing on our website when we are closed. If you are not on the newsletter you will need to do this for every opening that you want to be notified for as I send these notifications personally to each person that requests them.
  3.  Check Social Media often!

Thank you to everyone who made it to the end of this lengthy post. I’m constantly learning and stretching to run this Mint & Birch gig while being a mother/wife at the same time. It’s not easy, but I do cherish the relationships that I have built with each and every one of you! I say this a lot, and I will say it again: I sure am a lucky gal!

xoxo,
Jessica
Photo by McLachlan Studios

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Mama Story: Cejay

Our next #minttobemama story is Cejay’s- I made her a courageous mama necklace because she is a courageous overcomer, and such a strong mama!

As a mama who has also had a c section, her story touched me. Yes, she has healthy babies, but she should still be allowed to grieve that her birth didn’t happen they way she envisioned it. And the best thing about her story is that she has overcome and is such a champion! She is NOT a failure-she is a wonderful mama who faces challenges with the fierceness of a mama bear who loves her cubs so much!

My favourite thing about Cejay? She faces her struggles and her vulnerability with such courage. She is real, raw, and honest. To me, that is so inspiring, and I hope she inspires you too!

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Here is her story written by her: 

My story is one of failure, one that no matter how many times people say “but you delivered healthy babies” it does not fix the fact that I feel I failed as a woman. My first pregnancy was a whirlwind, I found out I was pregnant when i went in for a tonsillectomy (surprise…you’re 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant)… Not only had I not been expecting this news, but i was in month 3 of the worst case of pneumonia and tonsillitis you could imagine and had been heavily medicated for those 3 months. Needless to say, no surgery took place that day (my tonsils and I are still together and going strong) and I stopped taking any medication that day (no more codeine cough syrup for this mama to be). Fast forward 20ish weeks I was just barely 8 months pregnant and swollen beyond recognition (my cankles had cankles). Most of my doctors visits had been normal up until now, only a slight spike in my blood pressure until my mother started to question the readings of my blood pressure and began monitoring it at home. Turns out the nurse at my doctor’s office hadn’t been taking accurate readings, my blood pressure was extremely elevated and I was told I had preeclampsia and placed on bedrest. One week later I found myself being checked in to the hospital with plans to bring my blood pressure down with copious amounts of medication (oh joy). Attempts to induce labor were made, but failed… My blood pressure was 190/160 at this point and the only option was to deliver my little 35 week bundle. No contractions. No waiting for my water to break. No labor. No excitement. Emergency c-section was my only option. I was terrified. Fast forward an hour and I was in the operating room in a complete haze. It took 6 minutes… 6 minutes to cut into me… 6 minutes to forcibly remove a child from me… My child. A little girl who i did not meet until 7 hours and 54 minutes later. This was the first time my body failed me. On to my second pregnancy. Immediately upon finding out I was pregnant my blood pressure was on the rise. I tried everything to keep it down (diet, medications, positive thinking) nothing worked. I was well on my way to preeclampsia. I was monitored closely by my doctor and a specialist, and had hopes of having a VBAC. But this was not in the cards. I was told I needed to schedule a c-section and was given the task of picking the day my child would be born (how weird is that?!) My dream of natural child birth would be ripped away from me for a second time. Unfortunately all my fighting with the doctor for a VBAC and hoping to go into labor did not pay off. Preeclampsia struck again. I was on two different medications 3 times a day attempting to control my blood pressure, and at 39 weeks I was on the same operating table for my second c-section. My heart was completely broken. Two pregnancies and not once did I experience the joy (and pain) of labor. I carried two beautiful babies… I kept them safe… I grew them to absolute perfection… I did everything right. The grand finale of pregnancy was taken away from me. Twice. My own body failed me. Twice. I still cry when I think of my delivery experiences, they are not the happy tears of reflections, they are not tears full of pride in my accomplishments. They are full of pain… sadness… disappointment in myself. I failed at the one thing my body was made to do. In my eyes I failed at being a woman. I am not sure if the disappointment I feel in myself will ever subside; but I have come to accept that failing is part of life, you have to go on and keep living. I am blessed to have two beautiful girls that won’t see the disappointment, they will see a mom who sometimes fails, but always keeps trying.”

Thank you Cejay, for sharing this beautiful story of courage for us. 

I hope that each of the stories we will be featuring inspires, uplifts and perhaps brings happy tears to your eyes. If you’re interested in a chance to be being featured (you’ll receive a necklace if you become featured!)- please send your story to:
jessica {at} mintandbirch (dot) com! 

We are looking for stories that show the beauty, tribulations and trials, and the raw emotions that motherhood brings. We want to showcase and celebrate motherhood- the good and the bad. We want to celebrate YOU. We want to hear from real mamas like you! And in exchange, we will send out a necklace as a gift. The reason why I’m doing this is because I LOVE making jewellery for others. This is the reason we started our business, and we want to honour and love on you mamas! If you have already submitted a story and have not heard back, please don’t fret! We are going to be reading every email that comes in. I wish I could feature and gift every mama that sends in a story, but it’s a little hard to, but I will do my best to do this regularly and frequently!

xo!
jessica

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Mama Story: Pilita

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Mamas, this story brought tears to my eyes. Pilita’s story is one that shows what true motherly love is. Pilita is an adoptive mother. She isn’t her son’s biological mother, but she IS her son’s mother. She even breastfed him with a supplemental nursing system (think tubing attached at the breasts) to help him bond.

I made her a necklace from our shop that says, “a mother’s love” on it because a mother’s love transcends beyond biology: As Pilita writes, she “didn’t give birth to her child… but she did labour for him” during the adoption process. Here she is as she meets her newborn baby for the first time… happy tears and all!

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Read below as she shares her story with us!

Pilita writes,

My son was placed skin to skin with me the moment he was delivered via C-section and we have never been apart since. I have been his hopelessly in love Mommy since his first breathe, have cared for his every need, stressed over the decision of “circumcision or no circumcision”, breastfed him and cried over his umbilical cord nub falling off. He is my life, my heart, my Everything…..yet, weekly, I hear comments and questions that label me as less than. You see, my son is adopted. I’m sharing this so that other adoptive Mamas know they are not alone. I SEE you. My heart aches with yours and my heart overflows with joy to hear of the love you have for your precious Littles. No, I did not give birth to my child…but let me be the first to share with all of you, that I LABOURED for him! It was long and difficult, painful and filled with an ocean of tears. For 5 long years, I felt that infertility (severe Endometriosis) had robbed me of the gift of full-term pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. I wish I knew then what I know with all of my heart now. Endometriosis didn’t rob me of anything. It gave me the most beautiful, incredible son and I know now that this is how it was always meant to be. The moment I heard my son’s first cry and laid eyes on his sweet little face…I knew I had been waiting for him all of my life. I have no other way to describe it other than I recognized him instantly.

We had begun the process of preparing for IVF and, two weeks in, we received a call from family members (across the continent) asking if we would adopt their unborn child that was to arrive in less than 8 weeks. We hadn’t even known that they were expecting. They were very young, struggling emotionally and financially and already had two little ones to care for. I was terrified. Adoption was always a part of my life plan regardless of whether or not I was able to have a biological child…but our relatives were young and understandably not entirely reliable by way of decision making. There had not been a single doctor’s visit, we had some mild concern that drug or alcohol use could have played a role in the pregnancy and the only certainty was that there would be no certainty…about anything. We decided to throw caution to the wind and jumped in with both feet. We contacted adoption attorneys and began to prepare a nursery with everything a baby could possibly need. Spending thousand and thousands of dollars with no guarantees and nothing but faith and hope to carry us through. There were hurdles. MANY painful and scary hurdles. The first adoption attorney we contacted near our relatives’ town ended up also owning a baby matching service and she tried to scare them and talk them into giving their baby to someone else. She began showing them books with profiles of couples looking to adopt and told them that she didn’t think we would be approved as adoptive parents. They were so scared and confused by her manipulation…for what I can only imagine was all about the money she would earn for making a match…instead of allowing this child to be raised by loving adoptive parents who would keep him immersed in his biological family. We went on to find a supportive, honest attorney…but then came legal fees, court fees, travel expenses (many MANY travel expenses), social worker home visits and more fees for that, immigration processes (that we are still going through today) and the STRESS of waiting and wondering.

We arrived one week early for our son’s birth. We had never formally met our birth mother. It was awkward. I had guilt. I saw her big, beautiful belly and felt horrible for hoping that she didn’t change her mind. I imagined her seeing me as a thief who had come to take her child. I wept alone, on the floor of the bathroom, for the emptiness and heartache I knew she would feel when we left with our son and her arms would be aching for the child she wouldn’t raise. I had been aware but completely unprepared for all of the feelings I would go through. Over those 7 days, I grew to love our birth mother more than I could ever explain in words. If I could have wrapped her up in my arms and adopted her too, I would have. She needed a Mother also. Desperately. Her own Mother was only a year older than I was.

During that week, our bond grew. I cared just as much for her as I did for the child we would share. As our birthing day drew nearer, there was a growing sadness between the two of us…only now it was not only about the baby, but about having to say goodbye to each other. The mere thought tied my stomach in knots.

It had been previously decided that I would be the one to accompany birth mom in the delivery room. The morning of the scheduled c-section they wheeled her hospital bed away from me and made me wait outside while they prepped her for surgery. She was terrified and each minute passed like a decade as I waited for them to invite me to be with her. I didn’t want her to feel alone for a single second. Tears stung my eyes as I tried to force them back. I eventually took my place next to her and held her hand as the hospital staff began their work. Every person present was aware of our unique situation and the room was filled with love, support and complete understanding. I told her I loved her and that I would stay beside her for as long as she wanted me there. She squeezed my hand tightly as she felt the tugging and pulling on her belly. It all happened very quickly. In just a few minutes we heard our son’s first cry. Tears streamed down our faces. She had requested that he be placed skin to skin with me after birth. A gift, I will always cherish and one that took such strength and selflessness on her part. I stood next to her as our son lay in my arms with his head on my chest. I asked the nurses to unstrap her hand and I placed it on our son’s back. The nurse captured a photo of that moment for us. It means everything to me that our son will see how much both of his mothers loved him…and each other…in his first moments of life. We became a family that day.

Our birth mother made the wise and brave decision to have her tubes tied while she was in the operating room. I held her hand while they performed the procedure. I promised her I wouldn’t leave her until she was ready…and I didn’t. When all was said and done, the hospital staff brought baby and I to the hospital room where we would stay for the next few days, all together. Birth mom allowed me to care for our son as she stepped back and watched. She allowed him to only know me as his Mommy. I can’t even imagine the hurt and sacrifice it took for her to do that. She chose not to breastfeed but did appease my request for her to bottle feed him a few times so I could take photos of the two of them for him to have when he grew older. The following few days, I slept in the hospital bed next to hers with our son in my arms and I watched over her like a protective mother…calling the nurse for more pain meds, running to the cafeteria for better food, fetching warmed blankets and propping her legs up for her. We talked for hours about life, love and everything in between. Reality was setting in that I would have to leave her soon and it was a reality I could hardly bare. Everybody tells you how much you’re going to love your child but nobody mentions how much you’re going to love your birth mother and how devastating it is to say goodbye to the woman who gave you everything you’ve ever dreamed of, at the expense of her own broken heart.

They discharged us on day three and I wrapped our son up in a carrier, cradled against my chest as our birth mother stood close by. We took separate cars to the shopping mall and picked up some things together. We went to separate homes for 4 days, while we waited for our son to reach the allowable age to fly in a plane. I adored every minute with my new baby boy but there was always hurt in my heart for or birth mother. I missed her terribly. It was strange to not be together but I gave her the space she needed to cope and begin to heal and she gave us the space to bond and care for our son. We texted back and forth about her incision, how to stop her breastmilk, pain meds and how the baby was sleeping. On that 4th day, we came together to sign our legal papers and say our goodbyes. We would be driving to Dallas and then flying back to San Diego and then to Vancouver. The sadness was thick in the air as we all greeted each other with hugs. The papers were signed and notarized and our birth parents held our son for a while. His biological sisters held and kissed him too. They knew him only as “Auntie’s baby” but the oldest knew that he had come from her Mommy’s belly. Shortly after, we prepared to say goodbye and begin our travels. Birth mom burst into sobbing tears and I quickly followed suit. We were connected by heart and by tear ducts by that point. We hugged each other and didn’t let go for what must have been close to an hour. I didn’t want to leave her in the chaos of the life she was living. I wanted to save her and to love her and show her how smart and exceptional she was. She later told my mother in law that she felt like she was losing her best friend and the mother she always wanted. I walked out of that door, sobbing harder than I had ever cried in my life. I was, at once, the happiest and the saddest I had ever been. It took me hours to stop crying and get a full breathe.

Birth mom and I sent text messages and emails for a while but eventually she built a wall to protect herself. I understand, but miss her every single day. I see her in my son and I am reminded of the ultimate gift and sacrifice that she gave for us. I remember that the best way to love her right now is to keep my promise to her…to love our son, protect him and give him the best life I possibly can…and when she’s ready, I will share him with her…the way she shared him with me. He will always be OUR son.

I didn’t carry him in my belly for 40 weeks, I didn’t get stretch marks, swollen feet, morning sickness or feel him kick inside of me. I didn’t give birth to the little love of my life…but YES I laboured for him. I walked through fire, jumped over hurdles, threw up from the stress, had huge swollen eyes from having my heart broken a million times….and at the end of it all, I birthed my family in a different way and I was given a healthy, beautiful son whom I could not live without and for whom I would give everything. Make no mistake, I am his REAL Mom…and I will forever be grateful to the woman who made that possible for me. She will always be a part of my heart and a part of this family that we created together.

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Thank you Pilita, for sharing your story of motherhood with us. I hope that each of the stories we will be featuring inspires, uplifts and perhaps brings happy tears to your eyes. If you’re interested in a chance to be being featured (you’ll receive a necklace if you become featured!)- please send your story to:
jessica {at} mintandbirch (dot) com!

We are looking for stories that show the beauty, tribulations and trials, and the raw emotions that motherhood brings. We want to showcase and celebrate motherhood- the good and the bad. We want to celebrate YOU. We want to hear from real mamas like you! And in exchange, we will send out a necklace as a gift. The reason why I’m doing this is because I LOVE making jewellery for others. This is the reason we started our business, and we want to honour and love on you mamas! If you have already submitted a story and have not heard back, please don’t fret! We are going to be reading every email that comes in. I wish I could feature and gift every mama that sends in a story, but it’s a little hard to, but I will do my best to do this regularly and frequently!

xo!
jessica

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From Simply Selling Jewellery to Storytelling through Jewellery

As we approach 4 years of business, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why I started this shop. Last Friday, Kaylyn from McLachlan Studios came over to do a “Life in the day” shoot. We hung out all day while she captured photos of our everyday life- tantruming children, messy floors and all! I got the opportunity to make a nest necklace for her right in front of her, and also got to gift it to her right then and there. I loved being able to make sentimental pieces that mean so much to mamas!

I started this shop as a hobby, because I LOVED making pieces of jewellery that could become keepsakes. Something that told a story, unique to the person wearing it. I started this business because I saw so much joy in people’s faces as they opened up their little box that contained a nest in it with their babies in it.

Fast forward 4 years and I have something to admit: I have lost sight of the very reason I stated this business. It’s has become all about selling, growing my numbers and logistics. And I have to say- it is so exhausting and draining to be focused on things involving only numbers and statistics. It’s also easy to get caught up in the social media frenzy as a shop owner. There is a lot of pressure I put on myself to post great giveaways that yield results, to post the perfect product photo, and to portray myself a certain way. I will admit- I have become a little bit shallow because I am so caught up in being a “shop owner” and all the glam, glitz and pride that that naturally brings. There is nothing wrong with being proud, but when it becomes shallow pride, it is a problem. I’ve gotten caught up in the numbers game and quite honestly, and embarrassingly, I’ve forgotten to focus on why I love to make jewellery. As a result, running my business can be a chore sometimes. I still enjoy and lo handmade everything, but the social media frenzy/logistics/numbers has gotten in the way of me truly connecting with my business and the passion that I have for it. I did a short post on it a little while ago here.

Some of you may know, but I did not grow up in the most ideal environment. I never had nice things, the newest trends or the coolest clothes. I had a bowl cut for the first 8 years of my life. I felt inferior, unworthy and very insecure. I’ve worked through these issues as an adult, but on social media, it is so very easy to have these uneasy feelings surface again. I know that this is not uncommon- how many of you have scrolled through your Instagram feed to see a perfect kitchen, a perfectly stage photo or a “perfect” mom bod, only  to feel a little bit inferior or insecure? I know I feel this every single day. The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as perfect. There is beauty in imperfection, and within every one of our “imperfect” lives, there is a story to tell. And this is where my passion lies… to tell the story behind each  beautiful “imperfect” life.

So, within the next 6-12 months, I want to make a shift in how our business runs and feels. Right now we are posting and focusing on products, giveaways and sales, but I want this to change because I want to hear more from YOU. If you haven’t already checked out the tag #minttobemama, please do so! I want to feature everyday, real moms like YOU on my feed, and in exchange, gift you a piece of jewellery. We want to feature everyday mamas because we want to celebrate the beauty of things that are not staged, but instead, things are real, raw and from the heart. We don’t look at your following count, we don’t look at how many friends you have, how nice your kitchen is, or what you wear. We want to hear from YOU.

We’re going to be shifting to post #minttobemama stories in conjunction with our jewellery, because this is the very reason I started our business. While our business is our livelihood in that it feeds and clothes our children, this business is something I created to celebrate moms and to celebrate the real, raw, unedited aspects of our stories. In short, I want Mint & Birch to be more about community and sharing, rather than about simply selling necklaces.

Are you in? Submit something to share to jessica (at) mintandbirch (d o t) com along with a photo!

xo!

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Mint & Birch Favs: QT&Co.

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One of my favourite things about being a shop owner is that I get to meet so many wonderful fellow makers and designers. Once in a while, I find these hidden gems and I cannot help but share them with my friends! Meet Kristin from  QT&Co. She designs fun, inspirational everyday tees for kids as well as ladies! The first thing that struck me were the quotes and sayings on some of her tees, like this “Let Love Lead” tee! I am such a huge believer in having an optimistic outlook and many of her tees spoke to me! I hope you enjoy this little interview with her! Make sure you take a look at her Instagram feed to see the rest of her designs! You can find her at @qtandco on Instagram!

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