Behind the Scenes: Carry Your Heart Updates - June 28th, 2016

Last summer, to enter the Michigan Women's Foundation business plan and pitch competition that would eventually lead to the creation of Carry Your Heart, I had to put together a two-page concept paper describing what my idea would entail.

Turns out, it's a lot easier to write "I will launch a jewelry and gift company supporting bereaved parents" than it is to actually do it!

To say it's been an adventure would be an understatement, so today, I want to take you behind the scenes and share what's gone into getting the company to this point...

Finding a Designer

To be 100% transparent, I have no background in jewelry design. To move forward, I had to find designers who could help bring my ideas to life, and I've been incredibly fortunate to partner with metalsmith and jewelry designer Julie Sanford of Studio JSD in Grand Haven, MI, and 3D designer Liz Landis.  

Working hard at Julie's studio...

...was made a lot more fun by the fact that this is the view a few miles from her location:

Coordinating with Liz happened virtually, and involved sending about a thousand files like the one below back and forth. I'm eternally grateful to Liz for her patience with my thousands of "can we just move this a little..." requests!

Casting the Initial Concepts

With Liz's 3D models complete, the next step was to have each design 3D-printed in castable wax that could go to our casting house partner.

Here's what a few of the waxes looked like...

...and here's what the first run of master castings looked like - before they were hand-polished to a beautiful shine by Julie.

A special shout-out goes to our Michigan-based casting partner, AU Enterprises, for their help rushing the first order of cast sterling silver inventory so that I could make it to the soft launch on time!

As a side note - check out this security setup! There's nothing like passing your inventory through an inch-thick security box to make you feel like a big deal :)

Soft Launching at the West MI Women's Expo

Between January and March 2016, Carry Your Heart went from concept to execution, thanks to the dedication of our design and casting partners. 

The big reason for the rush was that, thanks to the MI Women's Foundation and Kohler Expos, I was generously offered booth space to hold a soft launch at the West MI Women's Expo, held in Grand Rapids, MI in March 2016. 

Although I was literally making the finished prototypes up until the hour before the show's load-in, I'm thrilled with the way everything came together:

More than anything, the show was a chance for me and my booth assistants (thanks again, guys!!) to gather feedback and to see what designs people were connecting with.

At the end of the 3-day event, I was able to connect with 102 people who filled out feedback surveys on their design preferences, and I was honored to hear their stories of the people they'd lost that they carry in their hearts.

Ongoing Product Development

Since March's soft launch, the Carry Your Heart team and I have been gathering feedback on our prototypes and concepts in a number of different ways, including conducting more in-depth surveys with bereaved parents and measuring engagement on the company's website.

We're still hard at work behind the scenes too. Although we've made some hard decisions on which jewelry prototypes we're taking into production at this point, we're just getting started on the gift sets and memory chests we hope will help serve those who aren't sure how to respond to loved ones who are facing losses.

Working on new combinations on one of our drop charm designs

Hard at work in the work room

Spoiler alert: Self-care gift sets are coming! Fragrance and formula tests completed:

Ribbon and packaging tests are underway

The plan, as of now, is to formally launch in August. At that point, we'll be able to offer several things:

  • In stock jewelry pieces, gift sets and memory chests that can be shipped out same day for those experiencing (or supporting someone who is experiencing) an immediate loss.
  • Customizable jewelry pieces that will be handcrafted featuring things like birthstones, meaningful charms and engraved names, dates and initials.
  • Memory chests that can be personalized with pictures and engravings.
  • Tons (I mean TONS) of educational resources designed to support you as navigate your own loss and to give you the information needed to support others in your life as they go through these unimaginable circumstances.

In the meantime, please pardon the website's dust! You'll see a lot of changes being made around here as we gear up to launch in August, but if you have any questions in the process, don't hesitate to Contact Us.