Pick Up Sticks – Just Another Day at the Studio

We know there are some incredibly interesting jobs out there, jobs that we’ve all dreamed of.  Secret shopper for Neiman-Marcus. Rolling Stone reporter assigned to hang with Jay-Z and Beyonce. Taste tester for Ben & Jerry’s. Ski instructor at Aspen. Personal Assistant to Bradley Cooper.  Those are all good, right?

Yeah, we’d like one of those. We’re pretty sure we could be VERY helpful to Bradley Cooper.  But since we don’t get to hang with celebrities, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that working at Pick Up Sticks is pretty crazy amazing.  It’s never boring, it’s creative, it’s relaxed, and, honestly, it’s almost always fun.  Here’s a quick look at what we do all day, some days.  Other days we sit around the studio and brainstorm while eating taquitos from The Foxy.  Just another job hazard – great New Mexico fast food.

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The above photo is Candace and Leigh dressing Judy up for her wholesale show debut.  This is just one example of how we load her with Pick Up Sticks. . .we’ve seen lots of different pictures of our customers’ own Judy and we’d love to see more.  If you’ve perfected the Judy-loading method, let us know your secret.  As far as we can tell, you’re all doing a great job of creating your own beautiful versions.

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“Which wholesale gift shows to attend? Who is going where? Where should we stay? How should we get there? And most important of all-what great restaurant do we get to try while we’re there?” These are just a few of the questions that get asked and answered daily at Glena’s desk.  Other tasks like talking to Sabrina on the phone about the creative process, paying the bills, payroll, inventory control, design decisions, and bookkeeping are just a  few of the jobs she tackles. If there’s a number to be crunched, Glena is the girl to do it.  Just hand her a pile of data and she’s a happy camper (there’s that finance degree showing itself. . .).  Of course getting to come to work every day with her dogs, her Mom, with Candace and Leigh and with Treyla, the newest Pick Up Sticks girl, is the biggest treat of all. (Hmmmmm. . .would you like to see a post on the “Dogs of Pick Up Sticks”?  I’m thinking YES.)

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Ever wondered how the “pulling and checking” process works when you order? This is Leigh checking an order she’s just pulled from the stacks of bins of inventory behind her.  Those bins hold every single charm in our line.  Leigh picks up the order from our fancy printer, walks to our “Walls of Bins” and removes all your charms from their assigned bins. From there, the charms and trinkets go through a two-pronged cross checking process. Leigh and at least one other Pick Up Sticks girl look over your order to insure that it’s shipped to you as quickly and accurately as possible.

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Check out that great orange wall. We are all about color and whimsy at Pick Up Sticks.

Here’s a glimpse of Candace at the heart of the studio, on the phone, typing an order. Behind her is our handy-dandy fancy printer that basically does everything except pick up lunch from Twin Cronies Drive-In (more of that New Mexican fast food). It not only prints your typed, emailed, or faxed orders, it prints our catalogs, the post cards, bio cards, images for studio use, AND your order forms (whew)! It is possibly the hardest worker in the studio!

By the way, Candace is wearing the 30” Small Link Chain with a AN058 Grow Strong Charm.

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Judy isn’t the only display that gets a face lift before a new show season begins.  The display boards have to updated with all the new season’s designs.  Glena is somewhat of a p-touch (label maker) guru, so she get the boards measured, p-touched and ready for Candace and Leigh to pin all the new charms and trinkets on the boards.

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Here’s Candace attempting to organize the board that holds the potential/proposed new trinkets.  This highly systemized process (most days) is studied intently and rearranged daily to make sure we’re creating the perfect trinkets to go with all our photo charms.  How are we doing with that?

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And finally, here we share with you the highlight of our day. Leigh (lucky Leigh) is handing your orders over to our favorite FedEx driver(eat your hearts out ladies)!!!

We didn’t get a chance to include a picture of Treyla in this post, but plan to do an entire blog post introducing you all to her soon. Hopefully she’ll agree that working at Pick Up Sticks is almost always entertaining and interesting!

We love what we do. Now if we could just get Bradley Cooper to drop by with a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry, life would be perfect.

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Fighting Cancer with Great Love – Pick Up Sticks Style

Glena, Bunny and Sabrina in NYC, circa 2004

Glena, Bunny and Sabrina in NYC, circa 2004

When we published our Thanksgiving Every Day post back on November 21, we wrote that we had hoped to get it online earlier but that “. . .our week got preempted by life. . “

What we didn’t tell you was that the preemption was a diagnosis of State 4 Colon Cancer for our very best friend, Pick Up Sticks copywriter and blogger, Bunny.  The week before Thanksgiving she went to the emergency room in Santa Fe, with a referral from an urgent care doc convinced that she had appendicitis.  Alas, it wasn’t her appendix acting up.

Bunny and Sabrina on the Plaza, Santa Fe, July 2012, with a high school friend, Kerry

Bunny and Sabrina on the Plaza, Santa Fe, July 2012, with a high school friend, Kerry

Like everyone else, when we heard the words “Stage 4”, we found ourselves in a bit of a panic.  As some of you who have seen us all together at market know, Bunny is our family.  She is like our sister, but loves us like a best friend and we love her back accordingly.  We’ve know each other since first grade and we’ve shared prom dresses and rides with bad boys in pickup trucks and days on the lake in bikinis and several marriages starting and ending and a thousand family dinners and dancing all night in dive bars in New York. . and meeting you in our booth at market.

Glena and Bunny at the Logan High Prom, looking hot in 1977

Glena and Bunny at the Logan High Prom, looking hot in 1977

Bunny’s a freelance writer and we’re just one of her clients, but when she writes about Pick Up Sticks, it’s from the heart and from long experience.  She was with us at our very first retail show (Country Thunder in Phoenix) and has helped us nurse this business into fruition from day one.

So it’s only natural that in her healing process, Pick Up Sticks plans to be a major player.  On the day of her diagnosis, when several of her numerous friends were in the hospital room, her friend MariAnne fingered her Pick Up Sticks necklace and said, “I need a special Bunny charm, one I can wear that will remind me to say a prayer and send a good thought to her every minute of every day.”

Bunny, Sabrina and Baby Shasta, circa 1978

Bunny, Sabrina and Baby Shasta, circa 1978

That idea grew, and Bunny’s Mom, Betty, who is one of our exclusive retailers in Logan, NM (our hometown, of course) looked through the catalog and found a charm that expressed Bunny perfectly.  She then ordered every single one we had in stock, put out the word, and in the past three weeks, has sold almost 200 charms.  She’s sold them at a higher profit margin, putting all that money made into a benefit account for Bunny, who unfortunately, will have rather high out-of-pocket costs for the next six months while she begins chemo treatment.

We’re taking it one day at a time, trying to deal with what could be a dark diagnosis, and we’re watching Bunny turn it into learning and loving experience, which is what she does with her life every day.  For those of you who know her, you can follow her journal entries at www.caringbridge.org/visit/bunnyterry.  Send along an encouraging word if you’re so inclined.

Bunny and Glena at the 12 Shores Golf Course at Ute Lake, Thanksgiving 2011

Bunny and Glena at the 12 Shores Golf Course at Ute Lake, Thanksgiving 2011

We’re honored that Pick Up Sticks charms are adorning the necks of women from Maine to California who are daily reaching up to hold that charm and Bunny’s well-being between their fingertips, wishing her well and saying a prayer for her.

She’s slated for 20 chemo treatments at the end of which her oncologist will explore surgical options.  She’s got one under her belt and is feeling great.  And she gave up the blog for this ONE post. . .otherwise she says she’ll be back with a vengeance next week to talk about new designs or something like that.

Bunny and Glena in the center of lots of Logan girls, Summer 2011

Bunny and Glena in the center of lots of Logan girls, Summer 2011

If you have someone in your life who is going through something difficult and you need a little help picking a special charm for them, let us help you out.  This charm project for Bunny has been one of the most rewarding things we’ve been involved in since we started the business.

And of course, we’d appreciate your prayers and good thoughts sent her way.

Inspiring Spaces of Pick Up Sticks – Candace’s House

By now you all know Candace – she’s the voice behind your phone order, the friendly face at market, the adorable blonde who could probably sell ice to Eskimos.  She never meets a stranger, and she says all the time that one of her favorite things in the world is getting to know Pick Up Sticks retailers in the booth.

Candace and the very adorable Jemma

We’re lucky to have her.  Her enthusiasm and positive disposition make it a pleasure to come into the studio every day.

Ndomukong, the sweetest German Shepherd in the world, according to Candace

Her house reflects all those qualities.  Warm, friendly, comfortable. . .when you drop in on Candace at home, she’s smiling and just as enthusiastic as she is with Pick Up Sticks customers.

She lives there with her husband Joe, her two year-old daughter Jemma, and two dogs who run the show – Luke the Shih Tzu and Ndomukong from the previous photo.

Candace loves snuggling up in front of the fireplace with Joe and Jemma and the dogs, but the kitchen is quickly becoming one of her favorite rooms.  She’s rapidly learning to cook for her little family, and even offered to share her recipe for pecan bars.

Candace is a Pick Up Sticks treasure and we couldn’t run the studio without her!    Let us know if you try her recipe. . .

Candace’s Pecan Bars

Crust Ingredients:  2 sticks unsalted butter, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. salt

Filling ingredients:  1 stick unsalted butter, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup honey, 2 tbl spoons heavy cream, 2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line 9×13 inch pan with foil with 2” overhang on all sides.

Make crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix until crumbly.  Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 20 min until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped pecans.

Remove the crust form the oven and immediately pour the pecan filling over the hot crust, spreading it to cover the entire surface.

Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 20 min.

Remove the pan and allow the bars to fully cool in the pan.

Use the foil overhang to lift out the bars and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut and enjoy!

The Inspiring Spaces of Pick Up Sticks – Glena’s House

Glena, Daphney (miniature Dachsund) and Logan (standard poodle) on her front porch, surrounded by the results of her gardening skills.

In our previous post on Sabrina’s house, we talked at length about how the homes of the Pick Up Sticks crew are their own form of art and inspiration.  Having a place that both envelopes you with comfort and provides you with inspiration has always been Glena and Sabrina’s goal.  I’ve known them both forever, and their ability to create a home that is both beautiful and inviting is pretty incredible.

What’s even more amazing is how Glena’s home reflects her personality.  Glena’s the details person at Pick Up Sticks.  She’s the partner with the business and finance degree who, while helping with the creative process, makes the train run and stay on the tracks.  She’s the precision behind the ordering process, setting up the shows, handling the inventory issues, keeping the staff on track. . . and interestingly enough, even though she’s a details person, she also has an innate ability to see the entire big picture, making sure every piece of the puzzle fits.

Her house is, like Glena, a collection of appealing details that make for a very comfortable and beautiful whole.  Her living room, pictured above and below, is the perfect blend of new furniture she purchased at market (she says she loves Guildmaster), antiques, and odds and ends she’s picked up at junk stores.  You can see that the couch is big enough for the entire family.  It’s where they pile up with dogs and drinks and popcorn and watch movies.

Her favorite piece of furniture in the entire house is the antique seed cabinet pictured above.  It was originally in a hardware store, and every drawer is metal-lined because its purpose was to store a variety of grains and flower seeds.  She uses it to display her favorite things, including her collection of antique clocks.

Who wouldn’t be inspired in Glena’s kitchen? I love this room – it’s the place where we all tend to congregate in the evenings, waiting on one of her go-to dishes which include red chile enchiladas, calabacitas, grilled salmon and grilled artichokes (hmmmmm.  Do we need to do a blog post with recipes for those dishes?  Wouldn’t that be a treat?  Because they are truly delicious.)  Warm and inviting, the kitchen is an exact reflection of who Glena is – she wants her family and friends nearby so that she can take care of the details for all of us.

And then there’s the closet.  Leave it to Glena to turn one of her extra bedrooms into a closet and then meticulously organize it, moving her washer and dryer in as well.  This is an idea she had in high school.  In the dreaded home ec class, we were all required to draw plans for our dream house.  Guess which detail Glena drew in that none of the rest of us had thought of?  The convenience of being able to take clothes right out of the dryer and hang them in the same room never dawned on the rest of us.

Glena’s all about the details AND all about the big picture.  We all know that from how smoothly the business end of Pick Up Sticks runs every day.  And now you know it from seeing her house.

Be sure to check back next week for more inspiration from the homes of the Pick Up Sticks crew.  And I’ll work on getting that red chile enchilada recipe for you. . .

The Inspiring Spaces of Pick Up Sticks – Sabrina’s House

Sabrina and Bruce, dressed for a night on the town at a benefit in downtown Albuquerque. You’ll more frequently find Sabrina in Austin Powers pajamas and Bruce in a wife beater and cargo shorts, but here they look especially nice in their black tie attire. Sorta like trained monkeys, Sabrina says.

At Pick Up Sticks, we know that the process of creating is equally as important (or possibly more so) than what gets created.  Having a space that inspires you, that envelopes you with light and sound and creativity, that frees you to do whatever it is that you do best, having a space that expresses you and therefore feeds your soul. . .well, that’s what makes it easy to get up in the morning and be the piece of the puzzle that IS Pick Up Sticks.

We decided it would be great fun to run a series of the Homes of Pick Up Sticks.  Everyone at Pick Up Sticks is an important part of the creative process, whether they’re designing the collage art or giving retailers advice on orders or helping customers come up with display and promotion ideas.  Pick Up Sticks is a team effort. Seeing how everyone on that team feathers their own nests just might inspire you to surround yourself with your own brand of inspiration.

Annie the poodle in the master bedroom. Vintage western movie cards, soft and worn bedspread, New Mexico sunshine coming through an east window, and an Art by Erin print. It’s a great place to wake up. . .

We start this series with Sabrina, the creative force behind almost all of the charm images at Pick Up Sticks.  Sabrina has always lived in homes that are eclectically furnished and decorated.  Walking through Sabrina’s house is frequently a bit of sensory overload – there are so many intriguing gatherings of artwork, kitsch, texture and color to admire.  There really aren’t words to describe how incredibly fun and inviting her house is.  These photos will have to do.

Sabrina’s house isn’t Sabrina’s place without the poodles.  Here’s Joan, the queen mother of all poodles, wandering through the kitchen, waiting for Bruce to show up and drop something delectable on the floor.  I’ve frequently sat at that bar, waiting for Bruce to drop something delectable on my plate.  Cooking and entertaining are two of the things Bruce and Sabrina do best. . .

Here’s detail from the kitchen.  Mucho booze, because as Sabrina says, they like to do a lot of entertaining, two friends at a time.  Also on display is a vintage neon beer sign, an antique elephant marketing sign (printed on linen), and the piece de resistance, the yard sale poodle collection.  Rules are simple for the yard sale collection – never, never, never spend more than $10, and the poodle has to be the prefect mix of tacky, funky and beautiful at the same time.

Every artist should have an inspiration room, and so, of course Sabrina has one (obviously Annie feels inspired sleeping there).  With its hand-painted mural, Frida Kahlo doll, vintage watchmaker’s desk, and lots of antique and industrial pieces available to be physically handled and played with, this room gives Sabrina a break from the cerebral task of designing online.  It’s the place where she decides what shape a charm should take, or how a compass might look on a piece, or how a trinket might match another vintage piece.  Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Here’s where the real nutcutting occurs – Sabrina’s graphic design space.  Joan and Alice love this room, since its where their girl hangs out every day.  Every piece of furniture in this room is especially soft and snuggly, since everybody has to be comfortable to get work done.  Of course, Sabrina is forced to sit in that desk chair while the poodles lay nearby and sigh or snore their inspiration.

And at the end of the day, its the living room where the poodles congregate, leaving little room on the sofa for Sabrina and Bruce.  I’ve been there and seen it – there’s frequently three standard poodles, their two masters (that’s a very loose term) and me, all on the couch watching a little True Blood on a Sunday night.

Sabrina’s house is filled with New Mexico light, kitsch, color and poodle love.  It’s no wonder Pick Up Sticks’ designs are so whimsical and appealing.

Next week:  Glena’s house.  You’re gonna totally want to live in this place.  Amazingly enough, there’s a poodle there as well.  Plus the closet of all closets – you won’t want to miss that post.

We’d love to see where you live and how you inspire yourself.  Send a photo to sabrina@pickupsticks.net and we just might put the place where you create on our Facebook page!

Pick Up Sticks Girls Tell Their Story Part 2

A couple of weeks ago we posted the bios and photos of the Jalaina, Candace and Brenda.  Now we want to introduce Anna Lee Henry, who’s in charge of our retail website, and Bunny Terry, our copywriter/blogger.  While they don’t spend as much time in the studio as the other girls, they’re essential to the operation and they both have extensive history with Pick Up Sticks.  Anna Lee has been around since the beginning (okay, since Glena’s and Sabrina’s birth. . ) and Bunny had been around since Glena was in first grade.

It’s amazing to get to work with friends and family.  In fact, it’s part of the Pick Up Sticks magic.

Anna Lee Henry

Pick Up Sticks Jewelry Company is known for their charms that celebrate strong, creative women who have achieved their goals or are in the process of making their dreams come true.  It’s only appropriate that the person in charge of the retail website is one of the women that has inspired Glena and Sabrina from day one – Anna Lee Henry.  She may be Glena’s Mom and Sabrina’s Aunt, but much more importantly, she’s one of the smart women in their lives who taught them that anything is possible through hard work and just a little bit of magic (magic that you create for yourself, of course).

After years in the real estate development and marketing field, Anna Lee turned that energy for selling property into making the Pick Up Sticks retail website a success.  She’s always been a picture of style and grace under pressure – making this venture work is like second nature to her.

And the best part of all?  She gets to be in the studio with the other Pick Up Sticks girls, helping with the design process and overseeing how the line is perceived by customers.  We think this is finally the perfect use for her positive energy and creative force.

Bunny Terry

A native of Logan, New Mexico, and longtime friend of Glena and Sabrina, Bunny has been with Pick Up Sticks from the inception.  From peeking over Sabrina’s shoulder as some of the first charms were designed to traveling to market in the early days to getting Pick Up Sticks national magazine coverage, Bunny has forever been a champion of all things Pick Up Sticks.  She now writes the company’s blog (right here!).  She also does most of Pick Up Sticks’ copywriting for publications, direct e-mail and just about any other piece of paper on which Pick Up Sticks might want to promote themselves.

Besides writing for Pick Up Sticks, Bunny blogs for several other clients, develops and sells real estate on the shores of Ute Lake, writes a personal blog at www.ilovenewmexicoblog.com,  and spends her time counting the days until it’s nice enough to get on the water.  To comfort herself through the New Mexico winter, she eats a lot of green chile.

Logan, New Mexico – A Piece of Why Pick Up Sticks is What it is

Logan, New Mexico.  Population 1,094.  The place where, if you want to send someone a letter, you just write their name and then “Logan, NM 88426” on the envelope.  The place, like the theme song from Cheers, “Where everybody  knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” The place where there’s a 98% chance somebody’s going to give you a big bear hug when they see you.

Logan Longhorns bus in front of the old Country Store - circe 1974

Pick Up Sticks is a company with a great story behind it – the story of Glena and Sabrina as cousins and best friends who had a vision that combined art with found object and images and then created something fun and heartfelt that allows women to celebrate themselves and one another.  It’s not coincidental that this happened to two girls who grew up on the dusty streets of Logan, New Mexico.

We’ve already told you the story of their hardscrabble, tough-as-nails ancestors who traveled by wagon to New Mexico from Missouri and how they settled eventually in Logan.  We’ve shared what an influence “Mother” (Glena and Sabrina’s great-grandmother Ade Johnston) was in shaping exactly who Glena and Sabrina became.  What we haven’t told you was how growing up in such a tiny little village helped to make them who they are.

The old Logan Depot. Our best friend Robin remembers going there when she was 4 or 5 with her uncle to get the mail sack as it was thrown off the eastbound train.

There are no stoplights in Logan.  There’s also no movie theater, no dress shops, no mall. . .as you might imagine, Logan’s the place where you just have to make your own fun. Use your imagination. Turn junk into treasures.  Develop insatiable curiosity and create something from it, whether it’s a playground game or a cigar box diorama.

We spent our summers riding bikes all over town.  The adults wanted us out of the house, always, and we traveled in a pack.  One summer the village authorities decided to put in a new sewer system, digging trenches down the middle of the street.  Those trenches remained open for weeks, and we developed an intricate game of hide and seek that moved from one block to the next every day.

Glena and Sabrina with a pile of cousins and Mother -Glena is seated on the far left; Sabrina is the little one with the pigtails

There were rules of behavior that we all instinctively knew.  One thing we were never allowed to say was “We’re bored.” It was common knowledge that our Moms had an arsenal of really awful chores for the kid who uttered that phrase.  You were required, with no exceptions, to speak to every adult you saw, and if you failed to do so, you were in big trouble with your parents.  When someone got sick, or even, heaven forbid, died, you went with your Mom while she delivered a covered dish to their house. You didn’t talk back.  You treated people with respect (okay, there were those episodes like when we chased that kid on our bikes, waving a dead snake, but the parents never knew about that, right?).

Those small town people taught us to have hearts.  And to play hard, using what we had on hand, which always included our imaginations.

Logan is just a small village sitting on a bluff overlooking the Canadian River in northeastern New Mexico.  But I’m pretty sure that if Glena and Sabrina had grown up in a city like Albuquerque or Dallas or even Manhattan, the results would have been markedly different. There would have been no Cromer’s Grocery, where they could run in, letting the wooden door slam behind them, grab a loaf of bread and tell Mrs. Cromer, “Thanks – just put that on my Mom’s ticket please!”  There would have been no hanging out in the butcher section of the Country Store, watching Leeman Stewart carve up a side of beef while he told stories.  There would have been no back booth at the Fireside Cafe where we sipped Dr. Peppers and ate our afternoon candy bar after school, talking about boys and learning to negotiate the treacherous slopes of junior high romance.

Logan taught Glena and Sabrina to care about people and gave them lots of close friends.  They were surrounded by family – grandparents next door (or living with them), great-grandmother down the street.  Glena’s Dad was running the Malco station out on the highway and always had a quarter for the coke machine and a bag of peanuts.

Sabrina's Dad Lloyd (far left) and Glena's Dad Albert (center) with Glena and more cousins

Our Moms met every morning (and sometimes every afternoon) for coffee at the Yucca or the Fireside Cafe. Our parents had frequent gatherings – barbecues out at Ute Lake or in someone’s backyard, coffee and cake at someone’s house after a basketball game, and that one glorious New Year’s party at the Feerer’s where I swear I saw the first chilled shrimp I’d ever seen. .  .

Logan is a place where people visit with one another and take care of one another.  It hasn’t changed that much since the 60’s and 70’s when we were kids.  We still speak to everyone we know.  We still carry in a covered dish when someone is sick or hurting.

It’s a place with lots of heart. It’s a place where you create your own life and your own fun. Just like Pick Up Sticks Jewelry.  It’s understandable why the Family & Friends charm category is always so popular with Pick Up Sticks customers – that’s what Pick Up Sticks is made of.

Pick Up Sticks Mentors Part 1: Hondo and Alice

Alice Seely, an early Pick Up Sticks Mentor

It’s impossible to talk about the “Why” of Pick Up Sticks without talking about the people who have mentored us through the years.  When we started going to trade shows, we had no idea how the business worked, and we made it a practice to get to know the people who looked like they had figured it out.  Luckily for us, a lot of those people became our friends.  Some became like family.  This is our story about a couple of those folks.

Our earliest mentors were David Hall and Alice Seely, aka Hondo and Alice.  We ran into David at one of our first San Francisco shows, and we were immediately drawn to each other because of the New Mexico connection.  As Sabrina says: “David is a fast-moving high energy freakishly intelligent man.  His hair is like Einstein, and the brain inside is just as valuable.  Alice has the kind of beauty that hits you hard.  Hard with envy.  When I look at her, I wonder if I have ever looked so pretty.  At any age.”

David, Glena and Sabrina

Besides being gorgeous herself, Alice makes gorgeous jewelry  and she paints and she creates tapestries, and together they run a retail store and iris farm  in the incomparably beautiful Hondo Valley in southern New Mexico.  These are folks who have been creating and selling art for a while, and they know exactly how to do it.  We’re lucky to have met them.

Alice Seely designs

We asked them to put together a little narrative of what they originally thought of Pick Up Sticks.  Here’s what David sent us:

“My name is David Hall.  My partner, Alice Seely, has been designing and crafting pewter jewelry for fourteen years.  We attend various trade shows around the country and have had a customer base as large as 500 galleries, museums, airport stores, and National Parks.

About ten years ago I was attending the San Francisco gift show and was standing outside taking a break.  I struck up a conversation with a very attractive tall woman and we soon discovered we were both from New Mexico and had a common background in the area where I live – near Ruidoso, New Mexico.   Glena said this was her first trade show, that she and her partner, Sabrina, had been worried that their jewelry ideas wouldn’t work, and that very few stores would be interested.  She went on to say that a trade show was a substantial expense and they weren’t sure they could afford the risk of many more.

The Hondo Iris Farm in full bloom

I was curious about what they had designed and accompanied Glena to her booth.  At first I wasn’t sure about their product – it just looked like a bunch of charms and chains.  But then I looked closely at their jewelry and was amazed.  The images and sayings were better than anything I had seen—catchy ideas, fun, great graphics, and tremendous detail.  I told them their only problem was going to be to get people to look closely at their pendants; that their product would appeal to anyone who was interested in detail and their customer base could span age groups from 18-70.

My main message was to tell them to keep working, keep going to trade shows.  I told them they would get their foot in the door that year and next year their sales would double.  I predicted that in five years, if they continued to develop and expand their market, they would be very successful and able to make quite a good living.  I also told them they had to streamline their booth display to make it easily shippable and simpler.

I am not always right in my predictions, but I was dead on in seeing how great they were.

Over the years, we have continued our friendship; we make it a point to have dinner together at common trade shows, we know each other’s families, and they have become great friends.  I am, however, disappointed that they didn’t take Alice and me with them on their recent exciting trip to China. “

Well, David, we’re sorry we didn’t take you along as well.  The trip would have been much more memorable with you along for the ride.

Many thanks to David and Alice for giving us such invaluable insight and for continuing to be our friends through the thick and thin of it.  Please be sure to check out their websites, and if you’re a store owner, take a look at their wholesale site .  They do beautiful work.

Pick Up Sticks Logo Photo – Where We Came From Part 3

Two little girl cousins, one hot summer afternoon, Anna Lee’s backyard in Logan, New Mexico, with a kiddie pool full of ice cold water. . .and, of course, a pistol.  Sabrina didn’t believe in swimsuits and Glena didn’t believe in being photographed – that’s why she’s threatening the photographer with her pistol water gun.  We were girls of the Wild, Wild West, living life as hard and fast and furious as we could.  Or as hard and fast and furious as Anna Lee (Glena’s mom) would let us.

As you probably know, we grew up in small town America – Logan, NM, population 550 in the 70’s,right next door to each other.  When we weren’t swimming in the backyard, we were swimming in Ute Lake, which was just down the road.  Or we were jumping on our bikes and high-tailing it over to Mother’s for popsicles on the beat up couch she kept on her front porch.  Pretty sweet stuff.  We’d like to have one of those summer afternoons back.

Below is another photo taken the same day, just to show you that on occasion, Glena was not the one in charge.  We debated for days on which one of these photos would best serve for our logo.  In the end, the one with the most action looking like we were having the most fun won.  As always, our motto is Have Great Fun With the Ones You Love.  Or Be With Those Who Make You Smile (shameless plug for one of our charms. . .)!

But it’s true.  Spend quality time with people you care about.  If you see a kiddie pool, jump in.  Who knows?  You might end up creating something as much fun as Pick Up Sticks.  We did!

Making Our Skeleton Dance, Part 2: Where We Came From

You’ve probably seen this picture before.   It’s a picture of two of the strong women who inspired Pick Up Sticks Jewelry and it’s the inspiration for the “My Mother, My Friend” Pick Up Sticks charm.  We called them Mother and Ruth, but these two women were Glena and Sabrina’s grandmother and great-grandmother.  Creative, persevering, strong women.  Unorthodox for their times.  Always proud.  Good at making their own skeletons dance. . .

Ruth and Mother

A couple of weeks ago we started this series with the tale of how Glena and Sabrina’s forebears made their way to New Mexico.  There were some missteps, some extremely hard times.  By the time we ended that part of the tale, Mother (great-grandmother Ade Johnston) had divorced her husband and become a single mother, something unheard of in the 30’s.  She was sticking it out in Logan, NM, running a cafe and raising little Ruth to be as tough and hard-working as Ade was herself.  But, of course, the story doesn’t end there.

During World War II, Mother and Ruth, who was now a young divorcee with three little girls of her own, found themselves in yet another business, flipping houses in Tucumcari, NM.  They’d pool their resouces, buy an old house and then spend several weeks scraping, sanding and painting before trying to sell it.  Glena’s mom, Anna Lee, says they spackled holes in walls with flour and water.  Times were extremely hard and rationing made finding supplies tricky, but they didn’t give up.  They maybe even made a little money.

Ruidoso, NM, circa 1950

1945 found the two women living in Hatch, NM, where Ruth’s new husband Perk was running a grocery store.  Not to be outdone, Mother opened a restaurant across the street.  Both businesses were successful, but when the polio epidemic swept through southern New Mexico,  the family gathered up Ruth’s three little girls (Anna Lee was four, and the baby at the time) and moved to the mountains in Ruidoso.

Perk with the little girls in front of the Ruidoso store

It was a bump in the road, but nothing to slow down these women, and they had found a willing ally in Perk.  He was up for anything – he bought an old motel and turned it into a long house of rooms for his wife and girls and mother-in-law.  With Ruth’s help, he opened Long’s Store, where they sold everything in the world from blue jeans to needles and thread to flour to tires and car parts.  We wrote about the store before – Perk was the consummate merchant, caring about his customers and connecting with them so that they were always happy to come back.

Ruth and Perk's girls - dance lessons were required. . .

But it wasn’t all work.  By this time, little Dee had joined the family, and now there were four girls to raise.  Ruth was the artist, the progressive thinker, determined to give her girls a world view that was relatively new for the early 50’s.  They took dance lessons and music lessons, they painted and learned to appreciate art.  If there was an event somewhere nearby, Ruth loaded up the girls and they attended, whether it was a concert or a rodeo.

Ruth being Ruth. Every day was an opportunity for adventure. . .

Perk shared Ruth’s thinking –  with their daughters and then their granddaughters (Glena and Sabrina included), they both liked to challenge the idea of traditional women’s roles.  They stressed hard work and education, and taught all their girls to never be financially dependent on a man

Ruidoso downtown - circa 1950

Ruidoso in the 40’s and 50’s was a magical place and time fed by crazy ideas (Perk decided there was big money in sand and gravel and persuaded Ruth to go along with another new company) and lots of activity.  In the midst of rampant entrepreneurship (Perk also bought a gas station in Hollywood, NM), there were  piano and swimming lesssons.

Long’s store catered to the neighboring Mescalero Apache reservation, so the girls learned to mix with and appreciate that culture without question.  At one point, when Perk decided more gas stations would be profitable, Mother moved to Alamogordo and ran a service station.   Were there other grandmothers running gas stations in southern New Mexico in the 50’s?  No, but that didn’t stop this family from trying it!

Bathing Beauties - Ruth with two of her girls

Those four little girls, two of whom would become Sabrina’s and Glena’s mothers, learned that the world was a great wide place full of beauty and possibilities and opportunity, as long as one was willing to work hard and take notice.

It’s just a little more of our story, but we think it’s what made us who we are.  We believe in possibility, in finding success in the craziest of endeavors.  We’re inspired every day by strong women, particularly those in our family.  We grew up in a family where we had the freedom to be who we really are.  That’s what drives us to create inspiring jewelry.  That’s who we are.  And that’s what Pick Up Sticks is.

The four little girls with a friend in Ruidoso. . .

. .And as you can see from the above picture of the four little girls with a donkey and the below  picture of Perk (taken at a mock wedding), we were raised to believe that life is a hilarious adventure everyday – you just have to pay attention and learn to laugh at all of it.

Perk Long. What else can you say?

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