Note from Jason Malinak of Etsy-preneurship: I receive lots of interesting emails from Etsy sellers, but this one was unique AND also anonymous – the Dani Perigno was a given pen name. I share this with you not knowing if there will be more, but I sure hope so! Etsy fiction – how cool is this!?!?!?
It’s really about the moonstone. Not that Ember Raya would ever admit it. I love all my gems the same, she likes to say, twisting an innocent lock of that long, crimson hair. Only in her studio, alone, does she line-up a meandering path of the shimmering beauties on the window pane. She would never, ever announce to anyone that the smooth ones remind her of iridescent tear drops with hints of reflected sun. They’re just rocks, people would say. Plus, she would sound sappy, all saturated in maudlin ideology. She, for sure, also would never tell you that that some of them — the way they reflect the morning sky — remind her of the color of a waterfall when it spills over the ledge. You’ve gone over the edge, girl. But Ember Raya, that’s just who she is. And, well, let’s just say: She’s way more in love with everything than she lets on. The mystery behind her affection for the moonstone is just the beginning.
Her distain for spending eight long, treacherous hours as a receptionist for the small county paper in her hometown is no secret, though. Not to those who know her, anyway, which means one other person knows. Mona, her best friend since forever, gets the lo-down all the time. But at work, where she “celebrated” her five-year anniversary earlier this month by calling in sick, Ember Raya masquerades her loathing with a perpetual smile. When she was a child, she collected comedy/ tragedy masks and hung them on her bedroom walls. Now it was like she was wearing two masks: one over the other. Sometimes, to humor herself at work, she makes bracelets out of things like multi-colored paperclips, golden round head fasteners and rubber bands. And if she’s feeling sassy she’ll string carved erasers — yes, carved eraser to add some pizzazz to the paper clip bracelets — or big black binder clips to the jewelry made from rubber bands. It’s a statement piece, she’ll tell her co-workers as she takes a stroll through the dusty newsroom.
“Looks more like a dangling participle,” one of the know-it-all journalists likes to say.
“Put a lid on it, newsboy,” the make-shift jewelry maker says on the way back to her desk around the corner.
If she could find another job, she would. For now though, and for the past five years after high school, the screech of the printers around the corner in the newsroom and the intrusive constant ring of the phones — so many phones — and the moldy silence in between, well, it’s enough to make Ember Raya want to poke her eyes out. But then that would make the whole after-work hours of real jewelry designing a lot more challenging. So in her spare time, if she’s not job searching, she’s creating her future award-winning pieces: necklaces and earrings for herself, friends and family — but mostly for herself. Friends always tell her to sell her stuff at craft fairs. Especially Mona.
“So toothless men can ask for my number?” Ember Raya said the other day, when the two strolled the downtown antique shops.
“Just stop,” Mona said, glancing at a doll from the 1930’s that seemed to be winking. They were at the Cool Antique Store, their favorite, named after their town, which beyond any logical reasoning was named Cool.
“It’s true though. Interesting men, who have no interest in craft fairs, like to frequent these events where the ‘First beer is always free!’” she reminded Mona. “The subsequent drinks are just ‘a free-pass’ for those guys to hit on all humans of the female type. I don’t want to subject myself to that — again.”
Mona knew mostly everything about Ember Raya, except for the real reason she didn’t want to go to those craft fairs. She also didn’t know why Ember Raya seemed to have an aching need to create her jewelry. Mona asked her once, a few years ago, and she responded with a quiet, “I just do,” and then retreated within herself as if saying “End of conversation.” It was not something Mona wanted to push. Maybe it’s her one creative outlet. Maybe it was none of Mona’s business.
Ember Raya did make known her dream to Mona to one day own her own shop where she could design and sell her jewelry so the world could enjoy “the subtleness of unconventional beauty,” which is what she would write on her website. That’s right: One day she would be able to waltz into her boss’ office at the Herald and say, “Thank you for the opportunity to work here. But, see, I hate it more than the movie Deliverance, and that’s a lot of hate. So, hasta luego! I’m out of here, Sucka!” There might even be a door slam, or a flipping of the hair, just for dramatics. If only she wasn’t poorer than a bag of rocks — the real dream would begin. As it was, she was racking up her credit cards with bead and gem purchases, and barely able to pay the rent.
Note from Jason of Etsy-preneurship: I did a little internet sleuthing and saw that there is an Ember Raya profile on Etsy . . . interestingly enough, it was created just yesterday! You can see it here. Not sure if it is the same Ember Raya though.