Ugh! Welcome SPRING!! We are ready. It is time to expand and grow. The seeds we planted, nurtured, and grew are among us. It is the time to be your best self. We've planned for this! Let the blessings surround us. We are ready for more. We are ready for better. We are ready for community and health.
Some how my plants survived the winter and we are still living together. I am SO looking forward to repotting all these plants! I've always loved nature and having plants in the house. Growing up with gardens and the matriarchs of my family have quite the green thumb! Until recently, plants have not survived my lifestyle. But with this major life pace slowing down to stand still, my plants have been incredibly grounding and inspiring. They also have been providing my house hold with fresh oxygen. Thank you!!
Before winter hit, it struck me that all these gorgeous plants are ALIVE, GIVING ME LIFE, and I did not want to kill them in the sub zero environment of Michigan. I took a deep breath and got on smile.amazon.com to order an affordable grow light for all my precious plants. Let me tell you!! My plants survived! Not only did they survive, several of them have grown pups! I swear the crystals on the top of their soil helped too. It's time to give these babies a new home and there is no better time than spring to spread those wings and fly. More like split these plants to expand the garden.
One particular plant that is growing exponentially is an Aloe from a close friend. This Aloe sparked my new found love for plants. (as well as a few others I found from one of our inevitable Ikea visits.) This Aloe had about 12 other plants already growing steadily. I had to repot them into several other planters and even gave a few of the smaller plants away! Over the winter months of 2020, this already abundant Aloe has doubled in size and population! If it was a pokemon card, it would be a VMAX!! This baby is prosperous and I can't wait to share some of her love with a couple more friends this spring.
This is the energy I want to cultivate more of! Let's build this garden, understand the subtleties of life, adjust to a slower pace, and nurture ourselves into health. Spring is a wonderful time. The flowers begin to grow, our world gets a bit greener, baby animals are born. Let us tap into this energy, our planet is alive, and so are we. It is time to give birth to the desires we've been tending to within. I'll be celebrating the motion of spring with a few activities that could be described as 'witchy'.
Fresh herbs and intentions written on paper will be burned, rising into the sky to be born again. The flames burning away energetic rubbish, cleansing all my crystals. Aura Cleared. Candles will be lit. Words will be spoken. Creations will be made. Good food will be eaten. Bodies will move to the rhythm of our heart beats. Strength will be built. Songs will be sung. Perhaps some games will be played. I can always get into a good celebration of any given seasonal change. The appreciation of time passing, love of the present moment, and embracing the excitement of the future. Yes please! Bring it on. Bring it all on.
A couple good reads for the spring equinox that were delivered directly to my inbox are listed here. You can click through and read!
Hippie CJ : Happy Astrological New Year
Power Path School of Shamanism : Spring Equinox Update
There is another update sent to my inbox that has no link but features a tarot spread for making high stakes decisions. If you're interested in it, I'll forward the email to you! Just reach out! I love to share and there are a lot of powerful people especially womxn out here spreading spiritual wisdom! Sending love to you all. May this time bring you every thing you need to move forward with your life. <3
Here we are again with yet another #marchmeetthemaker challenge prompt that is too long for #instagram! Focus & Priority brings several items to mind so lets kick it off with the list then I'll break the list down. Citrine Tangerine as well as Smokey Citrine are my focus & priority right now. Both are gemstone jewelry businesses with lifestyle products. It's become ever so important to highlight and design with recycling in mind or to up-cycle materials, yet another focus & priority. Doing all of this while looking and feeling great, you got it, another focus & priority. Beyond the businesses, which have both recently become LLC's btw, I've been working on some personal goals. I'll write a little about those last.
It's no surprise to anyone, if you who know me, when I switch from one medium to the next. At any given moment I'm practicing a few skills, that's the life of an artist and entrepreneur. Lately my focus has been to build up my gemstone jewelry catalog as well as lifestyle products for Citrine Tangerine and Smokey Citrine. Before launching these two businesses, it clicked that I could truly give my all to a jewelry design business. It encompasses many of my passions; Photography, working with people, gemstones, colorful design, travel, exploration, and fashion. If you've noticed I am not offering as many photographic or video services publicly. I've still been painting too but realized that painting is very personal and therapeutic to me so I'm not turning that into a business like I have with jewelry. I do have a few painting for sale and on occasion I will take a custom order for painting. The same goes for photography. Please reach out if you'd like to employ my well trained eye. For now, until I reach a point where Citrine Tangerine and/or Smokey Citrine are running themselves, I'll be putting my entire being into making sure these two succeed. I won't harp on what success means for CT & SC, I wrote about that in my previous blog - Learning Curve - but in general I want to have a studio space, store front, and hire employees. All in time!
Another focus & priority has been on recycling or up-cycling materials. When it comes to Princess Tea, the containers were once spice jars, cleaned and stickers removed. Currently I source my ingredients from Tea Lyra for that blend. I'd love to have a garden where I grow my own ingredients but that will come with time. The Crystal Candles at Smokey Citrine are made in containers that once held yogurt, cleaned and stickers removed. I am trying to figure out how to create an ecosystem where the candle containers and wick clips can be returned and used again but there have also got to be ways these glass jars can be useful around the home once the candle burns out. (Perhaps a blog about that will be created for inspiration.) Lately, I've been craving using my hands and learning new skills. Being mindful about making fewer jewelry pieces creates more time to imagine what could be repurposed or recycled in my home. Helping to remove items from my recycling bins. The next item I'll be creating is recycled paper for stationary which will also be screen printed. Fingers crossed the experimental phases of this process go well.
A focus & priority that's been around since the inception of Citrine Tangerine is to look and feel good while wearing your jewels. How do we do that? Every piece is made with the same love they've always been made with, maybe even a bit more. Being more thoughtful about where beads and gems are sourced from means there's more love involved. Making smaller batches and adding older pieces into newer collections also breathes fresh love into the jewelry. This process has allowed me to clear space in the studio for new ideas, give more attention to Citrine Tangerine's other facets and work on myself. Getting more in depth with the gemstones used in the jewelry has been incredibly inspiring. Last month for February I wrote up an Amethyst meditation with focus on creating a purple aura for protection. Activities like this correlate looking and feeling good together while practicing our imagination skills. The work on self love is constant and some days are harder than others to have an optimistic outlook on life but my focus and priority is to continue challenging any invasive pessimism. When we connect with the gemstones, like I wrote about in another recent blog, Crystal Care - To Heal & To Cleanse, next to nothing can stand in our way. This is the power of our own will amplified by intention and crystal wisdom.
Honestly though I've been putting a ton of work into my businesses and it's taken a toll on my personal well being. It feels a bit like I over did it. (the hard work did pay off to be fair!) It's just time for a short break. When we put 110% of ourselves into something, any small happening can knock us right into exhaustion. That's how I've felt the last couple days. My personal life got a little complicated, which is why some of my focus & priorities are going to shift back onto healing myself. After a year in quarantine my body feels unhealthy. I'm returning to the gym on a daily basis. Working out is huge for stress relief in my life. I've also been thinking about seeking out a therapist to talk through some of my past traumas. It's now, years later, that I finally feel ready to confront some of these moments that can trigger me at any given time. It's absolutely terrifying me but this is something I've known I need to do for a while. Confronting my fears has been experimental but now I think it's time to see where I'm at through the lens of a professional. The other day I woke up feeling.. far away from myself. Physically here but mentally floating away like a balloon tied to my wrist. Stuck but drifting, if that makes any sense.. I'm going to step away from the social media, try to write more, read more, and work on some of my past that continuously confuses me.
One of the biggest mysteries in the jewelry industry is not knowing where our gemstones come from. Gemstones form all over the earth but when you purchase a crystal from a metaphysical shop, buy beads from a craft store or perhaps you use Etsy or some combination of resources to acquire any kind of gem your heart desires; Where do all the gems come from? They come from many places, all over the globe but why is it so hard to know the origin of our gems? Some locations are better than others at labeling localities. Is it because no one cares? Maybe it doesn’t matter? They certainly all can’t come from slave labor or corrupt governments. In my experience independent people, small businesses or artisans are the majority when it comes to sourcing gems. But why is it so hard to know where every specific gem comes from when we acquire them? Is it important?
What I understand, gemstones come from all over the world, are sought after by many, and distributed in many ways by many people. Most people I’ve met who sell gemstones are very down to earth. Some are spiritual, some are educational when it comes to gemstones. While being part of the industry, as what some may call an up & coming jewelry designer, I’ve noticed that there’s a slight divide between people who create with ‘base metals’ and those who create with ‘fine metals’. Some designers use all kinds of materials, a bit of each. The most apparent difference is the price between 'fine' materials and basically everything else. 'Fine' metal jewelry is a much higher price point because the materials cost more. This slight divide also manifests with ‘quality’ and type of gemstones used while designing. There’s another layer to this divide in which people and gemstones are exploited for profit because of the demand for these materials which are labeled as ‘fine’. Governments, royalty, military leaders, businesses, can become incredibly unjust when it comes to claiming Gold and Diamonds as their own, for example. Modern awareness of this murderous greed have become quite the topic of discussion in the jewelry industry, especially in the ‘Fine’ jewelry section of the industry where the 'fine' materials are in demand. At the moment there’s a call to action to be ‘responsible’, ‘ethical’, or to be transparent with your sourcing.
This kind of movement was easy to understand for me because I tapped into Fashion Revolution around 2016. At this time I stopped shopping for clothing in the retail environment. I made a conscious choice to thrift or swap for clothes. When I can, I support small local fashion designers. These kinds of topics have been at the forefront of my mind for many years and I’d wondered how to include these ideas into my jewelry design process. One way I did was by using beads donated to me over the years or buying thrifted to up-cycle.
The idea to be ‘ethical and responsible’ is definitely appealing but what does that mean for small businesses like Citrine Tangerine? Many people wonder what these terms even mean and if they really mean anything.
When I first studied this concept of ‘responsible jewelry design’ or sourcing, I can’t lie, I laughed at the hypocrisy! How can people who can afford gold and fine gemstones not question their own contribution to the demand? Not question their own destruction of the planet and its people? How can you claim to be ethical but want to work with materials that people are being exploited for across the globe!? But after another moment I asked myself how could I possibly be ‘ethical’ or ‘responsible’ if I am sourcing materials that are destructively plucked from the earth? At this point I’d stumbled into a full blow existential crisis. I have to stop making jewelry! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
After calming down and returning to my rational mind, I decided quitting is not an option. How can I be ‘ethical’ and ‘responsible’ while sourcing my materials? Thinking more deeply about it is a great first step! I took another step forward in 2019 when Craig and I drove out to New York to teach ourselves how to mine for gemstones that are native to this land mass. We were inspired by The Crystal Collector and a few other videos we saw online of people cracking open rocks to discover sparkly double terminated quartz. I also don't use 'fine' quality gemstones at this time, which helps keeps costs down for everyone and doesn't contribute to the greed affiliated with 'fine' graded gemstones. We took another step when we learned that drilling holes in gemstones is NOT an easy task. This experimentation resulted in a tremendous respect for those who make beads and cut stones. And another step forward when deciding to source gemstones from independent miners, businesses, and people.
It’s not always easy to make this choice. The price of materials greatly increases but in my opinion it's totally worth it when you can connect with trustworthy businesses. I think it also has to do with how far the materials have traveled and how many people they moved through before you find them. A few times I've felt completely disregarded by people who source and sell 'responsible & ethical' gemstones. It feel like some businesses won't give me the time of day! It's very strange but I suppose there are unprofessional people every where! Who knows why. To be honest, I assume it’s because I don’t work in ‘fine’ metals or gemstones that cost me thousands of dollars to purchase. I'm hesitant to work in these materials because it's so hard to 'ethically' source them. I also don't have a market for pieces that cost $1,000 + yet. Maybe in another 5 years or so! I am VERY GRATEFUL for the new connections I do have now and those who have been kind enough to connect with me through Citrine Tangerine. Ultimately I use this movement as inspiration and a way to grow stronger and get better at what I do. My dreams are to be a respected and adored gemstone jewelry company. I don't think there is any respect in not bringing issues of this industry into the awareness of our industry and people who purchase them. Especially if we understand that each gem has energy. A lot of people, including myself, tap into the vibration of gemstones for healing and to enhance our experience in life. I want to know where my gems come from and I'd honestly prefer to source the directly from people or with my own two hands from the earth.
To me, creating in small batches and sourcing gemstones from individuals is one of the most ‘responsible’ and ‘ethical’ ways to be. Especially because we live in a capitalist society where we can’t stop making or spending money and gigantic corporations have endless amounts of cash to silence any unwanted noise. When we support small and independent business, we are cultivating a global community. It’s the mass purchasing of fine gems, the land snatching of gem rich lands from people that’s truly the problem. If we don’t know where our gems come from, how can we be sure that they were not mined in an inhuman way? I honestly have no idea other than I don't purchase controversial and 'fine' grade gemstones such as Diamonds, Emeralds, and Rubies. I'll purchase the raw quality of them though which are not as highly valued or sought after by corrupted people & companies. I know a lot of gemstones in the USA are purchased whole sale from gigantic global events such as ‘The Tuscan Gem Show’. I’ve never had the opportunity to go. But some day! There are an abundance of gemstones you can mine for or source yourself right here in the USA.
I know that mining for gemstones is not easy at all. It’s definitely not as pleasant as walking on the beach searching for different colors or interesting details. We’ve traveled to NY to get our hands dirty mining for gemstones, two years in a row, soon to be three years. It’s not easy to do this kind of work and some times you don’t find anything!! This experience makes me feel so much more for the humans who mine for the gemstones available on the market today. It seems the people who extract our gemstones from the earth are the least of anyone’s concern in the supply chain. The folks involved in the mining, faceting, and bead making end of the process definitely deserve a fair wage! This also leads me into another question:
Who is making our beads? How deep should we go back into the supply chain? Should we always assume people shaping our beads are underpaid or working unsafely? While attending a conference about creating a ‘responsible’ jewelry industry, I was made aware of an illness called silicosis. This illness comes from breathing in silicates when drilling into or faceting gemstones. To my understanding, there are two ways; wet and dry. The wet method includes water, which greatly reduces, if not removes the silicates from flying through the air. The dry method is yes, without water, and the particles of silicates fly through the air. Without proper facial covering, you are at risk of breathing these silicates in, resulting in a painful lung illness that will eventually lead to death depending on your length of exposure. Once learning about this my first though is, OKAY I’ll make my own beads. But like I mentioned before, drilling into stones is no easy task. There are proper machines and procedures for these kinds of tasks. The equipment requires space, and is expensive! There are people who've been creating gemstone beads for many years. It’s impossible for me to think I could acquire all the equipment, learn these processes, and source my own rough in any kind of short period of time. There are other ways to make beads as well.
Who are we to assume all gemstone bead companies are unsafe and putting workers at risk? How could we possibly know? Being aware of the potential abuses and risks associated with our supply chain is definitely important. But painting a picture that all beads come from abusive working conditions is wrong and potentially damaging to the people who are independently creating or businesses who aren’t harmful to people. The important aspect of this is to make sure we are more conscious of our buying choices and doing research to make better choices. One person I trust for global information exposing the truths of exploitation in the gem industry is Yianni Melas aka GEMEXPLORER. Definitely worth following on instagram.
What am I doing to contribute to some small amount of change with my limited capital and resources? I mentioned a few things above but let me reiterate! For the past two years I’ve sourced gems from localities in the USA with my own to hands. Craig and I are heading out on another adventure to source gemstones ourselves this year too. Cracking rocks open with sledge hammers and chisels. We are hoping to go to another couple locations in the USA to mine this year too. I am making choices to source gems from companies like Anza Gems, who source from women in Africa. We've also sources from a small independent mine located in Brazil called Nature's Geometry. Glenn Lehrer and his story of being a self taught gem carver is also an influence in my works. I’m creating much smaller amounts of jewelry, purchasing less material, and sourcing with intention. I am also educating myself on the jewelry industry, its issues, and thinking of ways we can advance. Another way to be more mindful while designing is to remake old jewelry or use beads from old broken jewelry or thrifted jewelry. Do any ideas come to your mind? I’d love to start a conversation with you about these topics but I understand if these topics are not your cup of tea! Maybe you feel like this post has no information and just kind of went in a circle? Welcome to my world! It is hard to know when gems are moving so quickly from person to person across the globe!
What are my goals for the future? To travel through out the USA to source all kinds of gemstones available to us here. Over time extending our sourcing to other localities internationally. I’d also love to find people to directly work with for sourcing/creating beads. This would be a powerful partnership. I want to learn how to make my own beads and acquire space / equipment to make my own beads. On the topic of space I’m looking to open a space that would house my jewelry studio and is a retail space for gemstones, jewelry, and classes.
A little bit about me! I was born in Idaho Falls, ID. Every summer, no matter where we lived in the USA, we'd travel to Higgins Lake in central northern Michigan. Over the summer I'd spend my time exploring & connecting with nature as well as inventing different experiences to share with people such as nature walks; where I'd identify different kinds of plant life. This is where my love for rocks, minerals, and gemstones began. I'd spend hours digging for Petoskey stones, fossils, agates, and anything interesting on the shores of Higgins Lake. Oddly enough this is also the place my love for making jewelry began. My sisters and I would make jewelry to sell to people as they walked by during the day.
Our family moved around a bit with the military until about 2000 we landed in Kalamazoo, MI. where I graduated from High School in 2010. In middle school my creative & artistic abilities began to expand and grow. I'd paint large canvases, drew anything I saw, painted murals, Play sets, and discovered photography. I was always drawing. While in HS I played several sports and my relationship to art deepened. I fell in love with film photography and continued to refine my over all expressive skills. Eventually applying to University of Michigan School of Art & Design. I was early accepted on my portfolio. After 4 years at the Stamps School of Art & Design in Ann Arbor my love for designing jewelry was rekindled. College was also when I fell in love with graffiti and the City of Detroit. I spent the summer of 2012 in Brightmoor teaching kids art and painting the neighborhood with colorful works by the kids. I graduated with a BFA in 2014 from the University of Michigan.
After college I worked for Shinola creating leather watch bands and was one of two skilled screen printers to launch their screen printing lab in Cass Corridor, now known as Midtown. It was this short time with Shinola that made me realize I needed to start my own business. Why do all this work for a company that does not give a shit about me AND exploits the name of Detroit for profit? (IT HAS TO BE SAID!) A few of the creative people I met working there and I teamed up to do a fashion photography session. This is when All Around Style came to life. While gaining experience in the City I worked for Ken Garff as an Inventory Photographer. Later I briefly worked for Pewabic selling fine Pottery as well as photographing team sports all around the metro Detroit area until in 2015 I participated in Art Prize 7.
Art Prize 7 changed my entire life. We fund raised for supplies to build 3 large scale paintings. These pieces were so large, we had to rent a moving truck to transport them. Art Prize was one of the best experiences of my life. If you ever get the chance to participate or attend, DO IT! Show some love. Buy some art!! This exhibition was iconic. I made a full blown collection featuring screen printed up-cycled clothing, an up-cycled fine jewelry line, three large scale paintings, a Detroit city scape poster with the Love Your Self hearts and some smaller paintings to sell. The two part panoramic paintings were donated to Major Chords For Minors after the event.
Travel, collaboration and sample sales became my focus 2016-2019. If I wanted my brand to succeed, I needed more exposure. I show cased fashion creations in Los Angeles in multiple sample sales, was lead photographer with Raw Artists Detroit for several years, published multiple independent magazines & catalogs, and have worked with independent fashion designers all over the country; Photographing the hottest styles, walking runways with the freshest model faces, designing some of the most exciting jewelry in our life time. I even showcased a collaborative collection in NYFW 2018. I screen printed fabrics which were turned into garments and adorned with All Around Style Jewelry. Over the years I've put in the work, the blood, the sweat, and the tears to build my business and master my craft. I was born to do this. I believe in creativity, style, and fashion. That is why I now own and operate two fine jewelry brands Citrine Tangerine & Smokey Citrine.
I currently live in Metro Detroit where I met my partner Craig while on my art nude modeling journey. Some day I'll make a book full of the drop dead gorgeous photos over the years. It was truly a remarkable journey I went on. Craig and I have been inseparable since we met. In more recent years my focus has been turned back to education and personal growth. It's been a priority to develop ways to be less wasteful in our creative process and learning ways to be more sustainable with sourcing and lifestyle. The Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference and Susan Wheeler have had a huge influence on my most recent collections as far as jewelry design. It is my priority to directly source materials, so my partner Craig and I have been traveling to Central NY to mine for Herkimer Diamond Quartz. I've also been sourcing more gemstones directly from businesses like Anza Gems, Nature's Geometry, Local Shops, and artisanal miners.
I am currently in the beginning phases of developing new products and collections. We have some exciting works on the way. Thank you for being here and if there is any way I can add value or share any knowledge with you, please extend a hand. Be Blessed!
About the Author
Megan LaCroix also known as Citrine is the daughter of a Navy Veteran. She’s lived all over the US but has roots in Michigan where her family is from. Spending summers in Northern Michigan exploring nature inspired her to create art work starting with jewelry and photography. She’d spend hours looking for rocks and creating assorted beaded jewelry with her sisters. In 2014 She graduated from University of Michigan School of Art & Design with a BFA then moved to Detroit where she is currently living and working. She is a multi-media artist with ever expanding skills but is best known for her jewelry, screen printing, photography, and paintings. Detroit Graffiti has a significant influence on her painting and drawing style. She’s participated in ArtPrize 2015 & 2021 and currently has a studio in the Village Arts Factory of Canton, MI.