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Comments 48

March On, My Sister

March On, My Sister | Sheela Writes

It isn’t how many times you fall

It’s how many times you pick yourself up


A little known fact about me.

From 2007 to Q1 2010, I designed and created jewellery under the brandname Eclettica (you can view my Sold Gallery here), with an atelier on Etsy.  It was an exhilarating time for artisan handmade, wire-wrapped pieces, being the zeitgeist of the moment et al.  And I certainly rode the wave, becoming the jewellery designer of choice for none other than the queen of rock herself, Courtney Love CobainGood Interesting times.  Incidentally, you know what they say about artistic people being, well, temperamental? They were absolutely right.  Cough.

I digress.  It was indeed an incredible period in my life.  Rollercoaster rides dealing with suppliers, customers and copycats (bane of any designer’s existence).  Managing that tricky balancing act known as cashflow vs inventory.  Learning all about selling and marketing and promoting on the fly. Single-handedly.  Crashing and burning far more times than I care to remember.

March On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela Writes

No matter how many times you fall down,

You need to pick yourself right up and keep on fighting.


I’ve been meaning to share my story as a businesswoman for yonks now but kept pushing it back on my editorial line-up because let’s be honest, the topics that matter are also the ones which require the most time to plan, plot and, finally, write.  And time is a somewhat rare commodity in a working mother’s life #noexcuse I knew I needed peace, quiet, calmness to write a really good piece, which hasn’t been possible up until today, and given that International Women’s Day happens on Tuesday, the 8th, what perfect timing.

Further icing on the cake when, as part of their International Women’s Day initiative, cabi invited me to write my thoughts on the challenges I’d faced in running my own business.  Procrastination promptly flew out the window.

March On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela Writes

There is no grand premise behind why I started my company, Eclettica, other than a dare.  A simple dare issued by non other than my brother, for me to try my hand at creating jewellery because I dared laugh snigger at his initial attempts GRIN I began from nothing.  Zero knowledge of how to use wires, let alone twist and manipulate them into structures and shapes that remotely resembled anything anyone would want to wear.  For the first few months, band-aids were my besties.  Band-aids and cortisone cream.

Also, you know how some show pictures of their work studios looking all messy cool and spiffy?  Well, mine was nothing like that.  I was living with my parents at the time, in Borneo, while waiting for our visas to be approved, and my “studio”  was a 2″ x 2″ space on the living room floor, in front of the TV.  I shan’t even tell you the number of times we bled from stepping onto loose, cut bits of wire.  Sigh.  I shan’t lie.  I wanted to give up so many times but I couldn’t.  I’d invested far too much money into purchasing supplies (real gold wires and gem grade stones cost an arm and a leg, and then some).

March On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela Writes



I’d work 18 to 20 hours each day.  Taking breaks in between to spend time with Eve (I was also homeschooling her back then, poor child), I would nap when she did, and work when she slept.  It was tough and it was a long time before sales came in.  Slightly over a year, to be precise.  And when they did, they trickled, my friend, at an agonisingly slow pace. I couldn’t understand it.  Everything I used was AAA quality so why wasn’t anyone buying?  One night, in desperation, I increased the price on each piece by 200%.  The next morning, I woke up to find that I’d sold $3,750 worth of jewellery, out of which, $2,500 came from none other than Ms Love.  I’m serious.

Overnight, I learned the importance of perceived brand equity, perceived product value.  That pricing one’s item below the market average was a surefire way to killing sales.  From then on, I would average $25,000 sales per month, 60% of that being nett profit.

March On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela WritesMarch On, My Sister | Sheela Writes

It does read like a dream come true but it was a lot of work.

Hard work.  Hard knocks.  A thick skin and tenacity to rival a camel.

Was it worth all of that, you ask??  Without hesitation, I say yes, it certainly was.  I had the opportunity to design jewellery for people I’d never otherwise have met (The Veronicas, Kat Von D, Peri Lyons and, of course, Courtney Love), and I had my designs featured on Perez Hilton’s website, The Alan Carr Show, VMA 2010, the NME Music Awards Show 2010, in magazines such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cleo, InStyle as well as US Weekly.

And it all began with a dare.


Clichéd, yes.

True?  Hell, yeah.

Love, Sheela

p/s photos by eve

I link up here.

Clothing & Cuff with thanks to Cabi  | Shoes (GX by Gwen Stefani via Shoedazzle, sold out, similar) | Ombre Sunnies (vintage) | Fendi Pop Art Bag (Poshmark) | Rings (gifted)


  1. Wow Sheela. I loved learning a little more about you and your incredible efforts as a business woman. I think when you’re starting out, there are always times where you’re spread so thin that you don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore, but it’s so inspiring that you continued working hard to achieve your goals. And wow, Courtney Love! That’s huge!


    • It was huge, Siffat, I had to constantly pinch myself, to be sure I wasn’t just dreaming everything. And you’re right, ultimately I felt so stretched, to the point of being paper thin. I wasn’t enjoying the creative process anymore. In retrospect, it would’ve served me well to hire external parties to manage the finances and the marketing, and I’d focus purely on the designing. I think that would’ve fared me better🙂 xoxoxo


  2. What an incredible story.

    Do you still have the company? Making that kind of profits I’d never leave it.

    I’ve plugged away at several companies and although my manufacturing company made the most money when the creative market it was in collapsed, over six years ago now, so did my company.



    • No, I closed it in 2010 when my so-called closest friend and supporter started copying all my designs, calling them “inspired by ..” it simply wasn’t worth the grief and soul-crushing at that point. I made my money. I had 5 seconds of fame. I made connections. It was enough for me🙂 xoxo


  3. Great story about your business. Lots of ups and downs of course but it’s so interesting to hear how other business minded people struggled and also saw a break through in it all.

    Hard work pays off.



    • Oh yes, it was most definitely a rollercoaster ride but then again, isn’t that life in general?? Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, Meghan, it was a long piece, I know, and I really appreciate it🙂 xoxo


  4. robjodiefilogomo says

    Ah….and so comes the saying…you get what you pay for!–Since you were making quality—you had to ask for quality fees. Great life lesson
    ps…love those shoes—i see you are a shoe girl too!


    • Thank you so much, Rach. I’m so grateful that amidst your own situation, you took the time to come by and leave a comment. That really means a lot xoxo #strongwomenunite


  5. I really loved your outfit! it’s polished and fun all at the same time, which I think is super important as a career creative. But I loved your story even more. I’m working on trying to pursue my own dreams, and it’s always extremely encouraging to find other women who have had any amount of success with making their dreams a reality. Your style and your story are very inspiring!



    • I can’t thank you enough, Jess, for writing such kind words. I’ve never thought of myself as being a source of inspiration in any shape or form, and that’s a mental block I deal with on a daily basis. The issue of self-worth and value. It’s these heartwarming words which make me think that perhaps I haven’t done too badly after all🙂 xoxo


  6. Wow, what an amazing story, Sheela! Life is all about a journey and no journey taking is fast and easy. Your story is very inspiring and it demonstrates how persistence always pays off! I also love your outfit, that purse and those shoes are so fab! Thanks so much for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead🙂




    • Well said, Jalisa, a journey isn’t a journey unless there are lows to go with the highs. I mean, how can we appreciate the good bits if we don’t experience the bad bits, right?🙂 thank you so much for coming by, I always appreciate it. A lot xoxo


  7. Wow, Sheela! I had no idea that you were a jewelry designer yourself! Just incredible! Loved learning more about you! Love the fact that you keep on going too! You not only have fab style but you also have a passion which I can tell by reading your post! Hoping you’ll return to the jewelry business esp since you have purchased from me!🙂

    xoxo, Vanessa


    • Yes, I was, once upon a time🙂 and in as much as I adored that aspect of my life, I have no desire to return to creating jewellery. For now GRIN I intend to enjoy all the beautiful things other talented souls fabricate, such as yourself, babe. I can’t wait for my bracelets to arrive, they’re simply perfect for the festive mood that’s in the air whenever Spring arrives xoxo


  8. What an amazing story of success! Thank you for sharing. I just loved reading this post. I am in such awe of you. Whatever we set our mind to we can accomplish and you are a shining example. On a side note I have to say I am crushing on those heels! I wish I could wear heels like that! You go girl!


    • And I wish I could wear pretty dresses like you, babe!! I just can’t pull them off. Also I wanted you to know that I really do appreciate that you come by and make the time to read my posts. I know they’re not precisely short so thank you xoxo


    • It was hard, I won’t deny that. There were so many days when I just wanted to give up especially when copycats came knocking. They were the last nail in the coffin, I confess🙂 but the highs far outweighed the lows, I shan’t deny that either, and I don’t regret a single moment of that crazy ride. Thank you so very much, Rebecca, Happy International Women’s Day to you too, babe!! xoxo


  9. Oh how I love reading something so personal about you, it’s so fascinating. And yes, things like that are hard-work, being self-employed is hard but can be so rewarding. And your story also shows me something: Never undervalue yourself, I’ve learned that myself, thanks so much for sharing Sheela. Love, Kirsten xx



    • I’m finally learning to let go of my awkwardness and shyness, and am beginning to share bits of me here on the blog, Kirsten🙂 it’s not easy, not at all. I still question if I’m sharing far too much, or maybe I should be sharing only the good bits but these days, I know in my heart, that if it feels right, I should just go right ahead and click that Publish button.

      Sometimes I wonder how the new generation will be (I’m talking about those who are currently in their teens), perhaps we coddle and bubble-wrap them, to their detriment, you know? Anyway, yes, it was quite likely the most stressful yet exhilarating time of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world xoxo


  10. Wow what an amazing story! It’s crazy how “perceived product value” influences peoples choices. I guess that’s why the “nice” things are marked up 500 times. Do you still make the jewelry, or ever wear your designs here on your blog? This was such a great read, and I love your outfit as well! I see why you were so successful, you have such an amazing and unique style!


    • Precisely, Lili, it’s the price which sets the tone. No matter how well-made an item is, psychologically, we associate quality with price tag, and that’s simply normal human behaviour. I stopped designing and creating jewellery towards the end of 2010 and I doubt I’ll ever go back to it again. The funny thing is I don’t wear much jewellery myself save for cuffs and rings, and I used to specalise in necklaces and earrings. Ironic much🙂 xoxo


  11. So cool, Sheela! I loved reading about this part of your life. I would love to see some of your pieces sometime. I really like how you layered your tops and those shoes are killer!


  12. natcrys says

    That is a great story! And you’re right,.. of course the quality matters.. but it’s also about perceived quality and value. And pricing is an important factor in that! Glad to read you’re doing so well!🙂

    Love the outfit! Those pants and heels look great on you!🙂

    YouTube | Blog: Geekette in High Heels | Instagram


    • Exactly. Pricing is the ultimate factor in deciding whether or not we the consumer wishes to be associated with that specific brand. There’s a specific science behind pricing too, so interesting🙂 thank you so much for stopping by, Natassia xo

      Liked by 1 person

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