Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Are ya'll ready to go back four months? I can't believe it's only been four months since I set out on this journey. More proof you can do anything you set your mind to. I truly hope I'm not typing these words for nothing. I need ya'll to read, hear and feel, my testimony. It's not a brag, although to some, it will translate in that manner. If that's you stop reading right now. This post is for the people who are encouraged. Who can take away from my story and feel slightly motivated to continue "writing" theirs.
I've always loved waistbeads. I've thought they were sexy but I never wore them because I didn't understand their meaning and I didn't want to be disrespectful of cultures or practices I didn't understand. The first fact I learned about waistbeads... WAIT, I still haven't decided if its one word, "waistbeads" or two, "waist beads". You'll see both on my website. Originally, I kept the space because of auto correct and that squiggly read line. It's not a word. When searching Google you see both instances as well. I need to make a decision and stick with it. Ugh, this truly keeps me up at night. I think I'm going to conduct a poll. There I go again on a tangent; back to the first fact.
The first fact I learned about waist beads is there is a large percentage of women wearing waistbeads to monitor their waist loss. I was starting a weight loss challenge. This was the perfect time to tie on some waistbeads. As you lose weight the waistbeads roll down your body as you gain weight they roll up giving you 'booby beads" or they feel tighter. That tightness truly makes you accountable for your food intake. This is a great way to monitor your weight loss without stepping on a scale.
I started with my sexy lover, YouTube, and I searched "how to make waistbeads". Everybody on YouTube was using an elastic stretch cord and Walmart beads. Whew chile, I've come so far in these four months. Maybe I'll do a waistbead tutorial on my YouTube channel. The information that was available when I started was WRONG!!! I shared with my girlfriend's group chat that I was going to start making waistbeads. My friend Angie told me to let her know when I was ready to start taking orders. She sent me a photo of some waistbeads she had been eyeing and I have to admit, I had never seen a more beautiful strand of waistbeads in my life. I asked her to please share the link where she found these stunning wasitbeads. OMG, I was in complete awe. This site had waistbeads that were priced at $200. I immediately realized I had to step my game up. I wasn't going to be able to charge $200 with beads from Walmart, this much I knew. So I went to Alibaba and Wish and went CRAZY!!!
Days later my girl, Johanna checked on me to see what my latest craft is that I'm working on. I'm a known crafter and she and I share craft ideas and stories. I told her that I wanted to get into waistbeads and she asked me if I was following Mimi L. I said nope never heard of her, lol. She told me to search for her on Facebook. This is when my belief in fate was solidified. Mimi L. was in fact the person who had created those strands I was drooling over from the website Angie sent me.
I stumbled upon her Facebook group The Waistbeads Village (WBV) and I found my people. I entered the group and immediately started interacting. I was asking and ANSWERING questions. I got up the courage to finally use those Walmart beads and post a strand in the group. My first strand was so well received in the group I was on cloud nine. I couldn't wait to make another. After reading more in the group and watching Mimi's live waistbead tutorials, I quickly learned that you do not buy beads from Walmart, Alibaba, OR Wish. I pushed those Walmart beads to the side (of course the Wish and Alibaba beads hadn't arrived yet) and I started searching for quality beads on Google. Some of the ladies in the group shared Etsy shops and websites they purchased their beads from. I even created a list, that has been pinned to the top of group, with all of the best bead vendors. People still refer to this post to this day. I also learned the reasons NOT to use elastic thread. We'll talk more about that later.
I was now armed with quality beads and ready to create my next strand. It was a two strand set with these beautiful beads I had purchased on Etsy. Immediately I recognized my dilemma.If I wanted to model my business around the format of Mimi's, which I did, these little tubes of beads that I was ordering from Etsy and the websites I had found were not going to cut it.
When I say I wanted to model my beads around Mimi's format this is what I mean. On Mimi's website she has beautiful predesigned waistbeads and you select the ones you like and you place an order. How was I going to mass produce waistbeads with this small amount of beads? I knew I needed to find myself a bead supplier, and that I did. Luckily, I already had a retail license, EIN, and business name from my prior craft business. That gave me the ability to purchase beads by the kilo from these online bead suppliers.
I posted my third strand on the site right around the time Mimi had asked for volunteers to become moderators in her group. Of course I volunteered, no way did I think she was going to pick me out of 888 women. She didn't know me from a can of paint. Under the post of my third strand which was a simple bead/spacer pattern, Mimi mentioned she had a very similar strand on her website. My heart stopped I felt like I had betrayed Mimi. I began to profusely apologize to her and tell her I never meant to steal her design. Stealing a design is the WORST offense imaginable in this game. It totally discredits you as a designer and is a sure way to gain enemies instead of allies. Mimi went on to say she wasn't accusing me of stealing her design at all. She said it was such a simple pattern she expected it to be duplicated. I soon found out several others also made a similar strand so that put my mind at ease.
This interaction between Mimi and myself was seen by someone else in the group who inboxed me and asked me if she could call me. At the time I had no idea why she'd want to call me so I said sure. She proceeded to tell me that Mimi had also accused her of stealing a strand in a different craft group. She went on to say Mimi is not the originator of waistbeads and a lot of other unfavorable things I didn't care to remember. I'm not going to lie, her words slightly made me feel a little guarded toward Mimi and nervous to continue posting in the group.
As if Mimi knew my troubles she reached out to me in my inbox and asked me if I wanted to be a moderator in The Waistbeads Village. My heart wouldn't allow me to say yes without first talking to Mimi about my encounter. I felt it would be dishonest of me to say yes knowing I had these feelings and it didn't sit well within my spirit. I asked her if I could call her to discuss something before I said yes. She asked if everything was ok and I said there was an incident I wanted to discuss before I could accept the honor.
I called Mimi and I told her about the conversation with the woman in the village and I told her how that made me feel. I never told Mimi the name of the woman the entire time I was telling the story. She immediately felt bad that she had upset someone with her words. She asked if it would be okay for her to reach out to the woman who contacted me. I told her I would first need to check with her. So I reached out and I told her that I told Mimi about our conversation and asked her if its as okay for me to reveal to Mimi who she was because Mimi wanted to reach out to her to have a discussion. This incident was the start of a beautiful sisterhood.
The next morning Mimi messaged me and said "hey, is it okay if I call you" I said sure wondering if I had done something wrong. She called me and we just talked, We started forming a bond immediately. It was like we had known each other our entire lives. I told her about my kids and my other businesses. She told me about her husband, daughter and childhood. We discussed everything. She even threw waist beading tips my way in the process of getting to know each other. I will forever be grateful to Mimi for pushing me and encouraging me on this journey. Her belief in me has literally jump started my business. Everyday she says "hey, sis are you beading". Everyday I get up and start beading. She encourages me to use colors I wouldn't normally gravitate towards.
During our first conversation she shared she was thinking about opening a space. Did you hear me. THINKING. She moved as swiftly as I moved with getting the step van. It was then that I knew she and I were so much alike. Of course I didn't have the step van then, but every decision I make in life is with the same determination and swiftness. I saw myself in her in so many ways. She was slowly, or should I say quickly, cause that's how we roll, transitioning from my waistbead mentor to my little sister.I loved being able to answer business questions she had. Which made me feel like she valued and trusted my opinion.
When I first started my waistbead journey I was making them in my bed on a tray table. FaceTiming Mimi and seeing her dream box I knew I had to do better. I ordered a desk and organized my beads in plastic jars. I now had a designated space for beading. As I was researching desks, bead suppliers and other things to help me grow my business; Mimi was busy preparing her space. Every time she found another addition I shared in her excitement it was coming along beautifully. Her space is open and has been thriving since day one. I can't tell you how proud I am of this woman. I'm sure you'll here much more about Mimi in future posts.