Have a jewelry question? Want to place a custom order? Looking to collaborate on a project? Want to place a wholesale order for your store? I would love to hear! Feel free to drop me a line using the form to the right, or ask questions about specific items through the Etsy Shop

Brooklyn, NY

Rock That Gem is a handcrafted jewelry company providing gorgeous gemstone jewelry for you to ROCK!




Five Tips on New Motherhood as a Small Business Owner

Rock That Gem

Back in March I gave birth to a sweet little boy – if you met me at any of last year’s holiday markets, you surely saw him in bump form! – and life has been different ever since. Of course it is! Adding a new human to the world and your family is a life-changing experience. Babies have a knack for taking up every single moment of your time. Even when they’re sleeping, you’re either saving your energy for later by sleeping too or cleaning up to prep for when they wake. So how do you find the time or stamina to continue your small business when new motherhood takes over? I’m still figuring that out myself, and I imagine it will be an ever-changing learning process. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant (or adopting), already sporting a bump, or in the thick of those first few weeks of new baby sleep deprivation (it gets better, I promise!), hopefully this list of things I’ve figured out so far will help! (And yes, I’m writing this while he’s napping when I really should be getting things ready for when he’s up again!)

Sign up for health insurance (if you don’t have it already). You took the leap and became a small business owner in part because you wanted to be your own boss and avoid the cubicle life. But one of the perks of a corporate job is the ability to join a group health insurance plan. I know plenty of small business owners who feel they can’t afford individual health insurance now that they’re working for themselves and so they forgo it. This is not something to skip, especially if you’re going to have a baby. Pregnancy and birth, even if you want minimal medical involvement, costs money.  

Personal Experience: I have no medical issues, take the natural approach first for any ailments, and had a homebirth with two midwives and a doula. But there are always medical costs along the way, planned and otherwise. Our son was taken to the NICU at a local hospital shortly after his birth and spent five days there before coming home. The bill, before the health insurance deductions, was over $50,000. I don’t know any small business owners who have enough cash lying around to foot such a large bill!

Business Tip: Do your research now and sign up for health insurance – you might even be able to include it as part of your business costs. Keep in mind that you will want an insurance that you can add your new baby to once he or she is born.

Take as much time off for maternity leave as possible. The first weeks and months of your baby’s life are intense, for all of you. In the beginning babies feed constantly, which means they only sleep in short 1-2 hour bursts, and therefore so do you. On top of that, if you gave birth your body is still healing and all of you are getting used to each other and this new life together. It’s not easy! As time moves forward things change and parenthood becomes more rewarding, with wonderful interactions like their first smile and first giggle, but in the beginning it’s a lot of feeding, sleeping, and dirty diapers.

Personal Experience: I’m eight months into motherhood and deeply understand why other countries like the UK allow for a year of partially paid maternity leave. You do all this grueling work to keep your baby alive those first few months, and just when it gets enjoyable you’re forced to go back to work? My kiddo arrived two weeks early (babies rarely arrive on their due date!), and I was working until the wee hours the night before my labor started. I wish I had set firmer boundaries and planned for more weeks of rest before he arrived. Once the baby is here there’s not much sleep for many months!

Business Tip: Try to plan for as much time off as possible. That includes a few weeks before the baby arrives as well – if making it work to take time off means saving up extra money before the baby arrives or delegating responsibilities to someone else or simply closing up shop for a while, if you can afford it then do it. This time is precious!

Have a place to write down business ideas even if you can’t act on them yet. I mentioned all those tiny bits of sleep you’ll get during the first few months, but there’s a second layer of sleep deprivation you might not be expecting – the mental chatter that will keep you from sleeping even when the baby is (and you should be).

Personal Experience: Sometime during the second month of parenthood, when my natural sleep rhythms had officially been broken and now baby was sleeping a little bit longer, I began to suffer from “Momsomnia”. You’re used to being up all the time to feed and change and soothe this little being, and now they’re snoozing longer and you’re wide awake thinking about everything. This can actually be a really creative time if you’re able to harness it. I would lie there awake and have bursts of amazing ideas about my business – new products, blog posts, ways to connect with customers, etc. – and feel discouraged they I couldn’t act on them. So I just started writing them down, knowing (ok, hoping!) that someday I would have a little more free time to act on them.

Business Tip: Whether you keep a note pad by your bed or download an app on your phone, have somewhere that you can write down these ideas as soon as they pop up. Your future self will thank you! And hopefully you’ll be able to go back to sleep knowing these ideas don’t need to swirl around in your head anymore.

Ask for (and accept) help. When you envision your first weeks home with baby, do you imagine it being all sweet and cozy, just you and your partner and your baby, cuddled up with no one else around? I love that! Except who’s cleaning the house and making the food and running the errands and taking care of the parents?

Personal Experience: We thought we could do it all, but you quickly learn that you can’t. Both our mothers are deceased, and during my pregnancy my Aunt generously offered to come stay at an Airbnb near us for a few days once baby was here so she could help with anything we needed. We thanked her and told her we’d think about it, but really, we thought we would be just fine on our own. We had to eat a very large serving of humble pie when we called her a couple days after his return home from the NICU begging her to come, asking how soon she could get here, and how long was the maximum she could stay!

Business Tip: If you have anyone you trust who offers to help, whether it’s childcare, running errands, making food, cleaning your home, or more, take them up on it! The same goes for your business. If you plan on keeping your business open, hire people to do the things you can’t (and get them started on this in your last few months of pregnancy when you’re tired and less mobile). If you can’t afford to hire people, see if they’re willing to do a trade. Maybe you help a fellow business owner with some of their business tasks before the baby arrives, and then they help you with your to-do’s while you’re on leave. You can’t do it all!

Come back to your business with fresh eyes. Taking time off to care for your new baby is a life altering type of sabbatical. It changes you in ways you might never expect. The lack of time to get things done when you have a baby can be really frustrating. You used to be so productive! But think of it this way – if you’re a new person now, then you’re primed to take a new, fresh look at your business when you return.

Personal Experience: I have been my own boss for many years, and with that has come a level of freedom that many don’t get to experience, and which I am so grateful for. Going from that to (if I’m lucky) an hour each day during nap time to focus on my business has been a hard change. Since time has become such a precious commodity it has forced me to be very intentional with my spare time. If I only have an hour a day, what are the most important and enjoyable tasks to spent that on? One of the business notes I took during my creative burst in that second month read in all caps: ONLY DO THINGS THAT RESULT IN REAL MONEY OR ABSOLUTE CREATIVE BLISS. And that has become both the benchmark against which each task is measured every time I have a moment to myself. Having this to come back to has been great way to avoid distraction and wasted time! (By the way, writing this blog post didn’t exactly fit into either of those categories, but it is in line with a sentiment I feel strongly about since becoming a Mom: being honest with and helping out fellow Moms in any way I can!)

Business Tip: When you return to your business, you are going to find there are things you always hated doing that now you find incredibly pointless to spend your limited time on. Don’t be afraid to make deep cuts! Get rid of old methods, find new ways to do them, outsource the work (this blog post is all stock images because the most important part to spend my time on was the words), or reinvent the execution. This is the time to recreate your business to suit your new life and your new perspective. Which parts of the business matter most? Put your energy into those and see how it, and you, flourish.

I hope these bits of wisdom from my months of motherhood are helpful for you! Do you have any questions I didn’t cover? Ask me in the comments below, I’m happy to help out! Or are you an experienced small biz Mom? Feel free to leave some of your own tips so we all can learn!

Highlights from 2017 (and How 2018 Will be Completely Different)!

Rock That Gem

Running a business can feel exactly like that -- always speeding ahead and never getting a chance to stop and reflect. In this new year, it feels especially important to me to acknowledge the big accomplishments and highlights from 2017. 2018 will be completely different, and I want to remember and appreciate the special things that I worked hard to achieve over the past twelve months!

Yesterday I set aside a few hours in the afternoon to focus on doodling all the noteworthy highlights I could think of from 2017. It was so much fun to watch my hand-drawn infographic unfold. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself (no art skills required, just go with the flow)! It's a creative and joyful way to visually represent a whole year. Let's see what significant events made it into my drawing! 

RTG Highlights of 2017 copy 2.JPG

Starting from the top:

  • This was my second year as the Finance Director on the Board of the non-profit NY Handmade Collective (formerly known at the Etsy NY Team), a vibrant group of 250+ NYC-based artisans that focus on providing market opportunities and small business education for its members. My position included 10-15+ hours of work a week, and I still can't believe I found the energy to volunteer that much of my time for a second year. But we made some great progress as a Board and produced eight events, so it was definitely donated time to be proud of!
  • Etsy flew me to Toronto to present my bookkeeping workshop at the annual Etsy Canada Captains' Summit! This was such a great experience on so many levels -- the acknowledgment by Etsy of the worth and quality of my expertise, the chance to attend the conference and connect with so many foreign Etsy team leaders and bond over our shared experiences, and my very first trip to Canada!
  • The Etsy shop reached that pivotal milestone that all sellers yearn for -- 1,000 sales!
  • With online sales being harder to attain for multiple reasons (new search algorithms, market saturation, etc.) I decided to focus a good amount of my time towards in-person markets. What better way to reach customers than by actually meeting them! I vended at 10 craft fairs and markets in 2017 totaling 103 days (that's almost a third of the year!), four of which were holiday markets that covered 19 of the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
  • Last year was the four-year anniversary of Rock That Gem! Woohoo!
  • When I wasn't running my shop, vending at markets, and volunteering on the NYHC Board, I somehow found time to open a second creative business called With Love From Molly! There I design and create downloadable crochet patterns for clothing and accessories, and have shops on both Etsy and Ravelry. I adore crochet, and this has been a wonderful outlet to flex that muscle and share my knowledge!
  • Back to the topic of workshops, the G.I.A. D.C. Alumni Chapter (my alma mater, the Gemological Institute of America) invited me for an overnight trip to D.C. to present my Instagram Marketing workshop! This was another great honor -- I had already presented this workshop for the G.I.A. NY Metro chapter in 2016, and getting to meet fellow alumni in a new city and share my knowledge was a welcomed privilege! 
  • Did I mention busting my butt and working hard in 2017? All that effort paid off with a 30% increase in revenue over 2016!
  • And now for the cherry on the cake: at the end of the year Etsy stopped by to film a studio tour! They featured the video in their Insta Stories, and I got to draw a piece of advice to share on their Etsy Success IG account. A studio tour is a huge landmark for an Etsy shop owner, and they made it so fun and easy!
  • Best of all, for half of 2017 I was also pregnant and growing a sweet little baby boy! (If you attended any of those holiday markets I did you got to meet the growing bump!) I couldn't have made it through all those December events without the help of my friend Chloe, whose energy and vibrant personality made all the difference when I needed her to work the booths when I couldn't be there!

On that note, 2018 will be very different from 2017, in so many amazing ways! With just about 6 weeks until baby arrives, my energy has been slowing down to prepare for all these remarkable changes. I plan to put the shop on extended vacation in a week or so, and likely won't reopen until July when I've gotten into the groove of parenthood. I am welcoming this change with open arms (for lots of cuddles!). Imagine how streamlined my business decision-making skills will be when there's a little one to think about? And what sharp focus I will have with time management and projects? I made this infographic as much for my son as for me, to show how much I accomplished before he arrived, and how happy I am to change my focus and bring him into this world. I can't wait to see who I am on the other side of this!

I would love to hear your experiences with big changes in your business, whether it was parenthood, shifting direction, or taking a huge leap. Feel free to share below! 

15 Awesome Valentine's Day Cards on Etsy

Rock That Gem

Whether you're planning a big night on the town, a cozy evening on the couch, or a long-distance call with your special someone for Valentine's Day, it's always a treat to include a hand-written card from the heart. Expressing your love on paper means it can be cherished for years to come. What better place to find the perfect greeting card than on Etsy?

I put together a few of my favorite love-themed cards from some awesome fellow Etsy shop owners. You can purchase these cards directly from the talented artists who created them. I'm so excited to introduce you to their beautiful work!

Celebrating Valentine's Day with friends this year? There's a perfect card for your pal, too!

Which is your favorite card of the bunch? If you purchase one of these cards for a loved one, or just find a new artist from the bunch to crush on, let us know! 

Where in the World is Rock That Gem?

Rock That Gem

With last month being the three year anniversary of Rock That Gem (popularly referred to as an "Etsyversary", how cute!) I thought it would be fun to take a look at all the places the jewelry has traveled to around the world!

Early on in the business I tried to establish a map of order locations, but once the holidays hit the data became too cumbersome to enter manually and the project went on hold. This week I came across a fantastic piece of software that creates a nightly-updated custom sales map through an integration with your Etsy shop. With just a click of a button the map was complete!

The stats show that as of today the jewelry has traveled to 14 countries (out of 196): 

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada 
  • Denmark 
  • France
  • Indonesia 
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Pakistan 
  • Singapore 
  • Sweden 
  • The Netherlands 
  • United Kingdom 
  • United States 

Every time an international order comes through it always feels so exotic and special. I imagine the jewelry traveling with a little tiny suitcase and getting vintage stickers from each region of the journey to paste on its luggage! 

Photo courtesy of  PinkyLaRoux

Photo courtesy of PinkyLaRoux

It's a popular goal among Etsy shop owners to have their products travel to all 50 states. As of today the map shows that the jewelry has made itself at home in 41 of them! Here are the 9 states the remain un-rocked:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

It's not surprising that Alaska and Hawaii are on there since they're so far away. But Vermont? Our states share a border! It would be awesome to cover all 50 states by the end of the year. So let's have a little fun -- if you live in one of the remaining states above and place an order before someone else from your state does, I'll include a special gem present with your purchase! Just make sure to include in the Notes to Seller that you're from one of the un-rocked states. And yes, it totally counts if you're shipping a gift to a friend who lives in one of those states, they'll get two presents instead of just one! (I'll update this post with strikeouts as the states get rocked!)

Do you have an Etsy shop? What does your sales map look like? I'd love to hear! 

P.S. If you didn't have the pleasure of watching "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" on PBS as a kid, or just feel like taking a trip down memory lane, this episode is for you!

Rock That Holiday Gift Guide 2016!

Rock That Gem

Looking for some uniquely awesome and creative gifts for friends and family that can still be shipped in time for the holidays? I'm back again this year with a brand new last-minute holiday gift guide for 2016! (If you missed it, check out the amazing items from last year's gift guide). All of these products and digital downloads are still available to purchase online, but don't delay -- gifts this good never stay in stock for long!

Photo courtesy of  Emily McDowell Studio

Photo courtesy of Emily McDowell Studio

Emily McDowell is a hilarious, talented, honest, and relatable artist whose original line of greeting cards has developed into an awesome brand that includes smart tote bags, mugs, and now this new line of Everyday Bravery Pins. Enamel pins have become so popular, but these feature a delightful twist -- they celebrate the small things in life to be proud of, like "Put Myself First" and "Did It Anyway". The perfect encouraging stocking stuffer!  

Photo courtesy of  Hand Lettered Design

Photo courtesy of Hand Lettered Design

Who doesn't love the style and beauty of chalk art? Earlier this year I purchased the Chalk Art 101 online class from Hand Lettered Design, and only recently did I get the chance to take a few days to sit down and devour it all. There is so much inspiring information in this class! It took my chalk lettering skills to the next level, and Lisa is such a calm and helpful teacher. They also offer a Hand Lettering and Faux Calligraphy class, as well as a Brush Lettering class. The perfect gift for the artist in your life!

Photo courtesy of  Little Miss Workbench

Photo courtesy of Little Miss Workbench

Speaking of chalk -- this genius little chalk device is perfect for the kid in your life! (And yes, that includes kid-like adults too!). I met Michele of Little Miss Workbench at the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar last year (she was the booth across from mine!) and I've been a fan ever since. Evolving from wooden cameras with chalkboard displays so kids can draw what they see, her new product is equally genius -- a chalkboard cellphone! Who wouldn't love to draw the images they wish to see on their phone?

Photo courtesy of  Lucy Knisley

Photo courtesy of Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley has rapidly become one of my absolute favorite illustrators. Originally introduced to her work on Instagram during Inktober (she's currently on maternity leave with her adorable new son and posts drawings of all the fun and difficult moments of new motherhood), I have devoured almost every single one of her comics-style memoir-meets-diary books. Relish quickly became my favorite of the bunch. In it she chronicles her relationship with food -- her chef mother, tasty meals abroad, and favorite recipes. It's a colorful and honest story that will make you want to get into the kitchen right away to play along. The perfect gift for a foodie! And if you fall in love with her as much as I do, she offers custom paintings to her Patreon members. A great gift as well!

Photo courtesy of  Ohhh Lulu

Photo courtesy of Ohhh Lulu

Who doesn't love gorgeous lingerie? Sarah of Ohhh Lulu makes the prettiest custom bras and panties, sized just for you. Choose from delicate laces, buttery velvets, glossy silks, and so much more. But that's not all. In her second Etsy shop you can purchase the sewing patterns to make them yourself! Perfect for the DIY-er that loves the challenge of creating their own lovely intimates. 

Photo courtesy of  MollyGirl Yarn

Photo courtesy of MollyGirl Yarn

Have a knitter or crocheter in your life? After purchasing some awesome gemstone stitch markers for them, your next stop should be MollyGirl Yarn (and it's not just because the brand shares my name, but it helps!). I originally fell in love with Angela's hand-dyed yarn at the opening of Woolyn in Brooklyn, and then got to meet the artist at the Kings County Fiber Festival. Her yarns are bright, colorful, and playful with a rock star edge. Purchase a fun skein or two of a yarn like this speckled Lollipop in the photo above, or make it into a full kit that includes the yarn and a pattern. Your fiber friend will thank you!

Many of these shops have discounts going on (on top of shipping in time for the holidays) so check out their social media accounts for some special codes. And if you make a purchase, feel free to let them know I sent you!

Which one are you most excited for? For yourself or as a gift? I won't tell :) 

Eating with the Seasons: Spring Menu - Dessert and Tea

Rock That Gem

This pie is perfect for spring -- light, mouth-watering, and a crowd-pleaser. You can even forgo the crust and use this filling to make little pudding cups!

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Eating with the Seasons: Spring Menu - Main and Side Dishes

Rock That Gem

In the spring we turn to lighter foods with an emphasis on steaming and boiling. The vegetables that grow in the spring have a rising energy that you can see clearly in the way they come up from the ground. Think of leafy greens, sprouts, chives, garlic, and asparagus. During this change in weather we want to embody that kind of energy as well. On that note, let's start with our spring side dish!

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Eating with the Seasons: Spring Menu - Appetizer

Rock That Gem

I put together a perfect spring menu to get you started eating with the seasons. For the next three days I will post a new recipe each day so you can create a lovely spring meal by the end of the week! Today we start with the appetizer. Remember to always chew your food well, eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed, and be thankful for all that you have!

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Rock That Holiday Gift Guide!

Rock That Gem

Shopping from the comfort of your home is the perfect cozy way to check off everyone on your list! With Christmas just around the corner, now is the time to order those gifts so they get to you right on time. Purchasing from small businesses warms everyone's hearts. The makers get to support their families, and you get to give gifts made with love to the people you love. It's a win-win!

I compiled this gift guide to give you some great ideas while also getting the chance to meet some of my favorite fellow makers. These creative shop owners are all so talented. It will be hard for you not to purchase a little something for yourself too!

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Yoga For Makers

Rock That Gem

In an effort to help relieve all of our tight muscles I asked my friend Kenzie Pause, a yoga teacher here in Brooklyn, to develop a custom yoga routine that we can easily incorporate into our days. These poses target the areas that suffer the most when you're hunched over your workbench or tight from sitting all day. Try them out and see which ones soothe your tight spots the most. You can then pick and choose poses on any given day, or complete the whole series again for a full body stretch. Repeat often -- your body will thank you!

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