Betina Roza is 10 years old this month! Can you believe it?

These are the very first heart necklaces I made, over 10 years ago!

I started making jewelry 20 years ago. I was 26 years old and my mom had just died, very unexpectedly. I suddenly left the life I had started as a marine biologist, and stayed home with my dad for two years. During this time, I started making jewelry just for something to do. I used to make simple beaded jewelry as a kid, and so that's where I started, basically buying little components and beads and connecting them together. It turned out to be such an effective distraction, that I eventually enrolled in a basic jewelry class at the community college. I learned for the first time how to hammer and form wire, how to make ear-wires and use real tools. The instructor liked my designs and encouraged me to sell them at a shop in NE Portland, and that's how my first jewelry business began. I called it “Little E-Rings”, a wink to the nickname I'd had since high-school "Little E". This first version of my business still makes me laugh...the name and my little Etsy shop, everything about it reflects the total "beginnerness" of my journey. 

My very first logo :)
These are some of the first designs I had on my Little E Rings Etsy Shop.

All in all, I only ever sold about 10 pieces on Etsy, mostly to friends and family!
I moved back to the island, attempting to pick up where I had left off, and I brought my little jewelry biz with me. Someone invited me to sell at the farmer's market, and although I had never sold my jewelry in person, I nervously said yes. I remember that I had no infrastructure, and had to borrow tables and tablecloths and create makeshift displays out of scraps of cedar siding I
ound in the woodpile of the house I was renting. 

Here's my makeshift set up at my very first Farmer's Market in Friday Harbor in 2007! 

At the same time, my job at the Center for Whale Research had me  learning how to create and edit websites. I had to use a Mac, ACK!, something I haden't done since elementary school. But I learned how to create websites, and decided that I needed one of my own. Taking my business to the next level felt totally scary and intimidating. Synchronistically, I met a gal down in Sayulita where I lived part time who was importing Tahitian Pearls and was trying to start a business herself. We decided to team up (in hindsight mostly because we both needed a hand to hold) and created
La Zuvuya, my second business identity.

Classic example of the pearl and leather jewelry we were creating for La Zuvuya.
The name Zuvuya is a Mayan word that describes the cosmic wave of energy your soul rides as it goes from lifetime to lifetime on its return path home to source. Such a beautiful and lofty name right! As it turned out though, very few people could pronounce it and even fewer cold remember it!

I still love Tahitian pearls!

Nevertheless, we focused on selling Tahitian pearl jewelry at high end yoga and surf retreats and resorts in Mexico. It was all so hilarious because, we were anything but “high end” at the time! We frequently showed up to events (late) post surf, in bare feet and wet sarongs.

This is the set up for one of our first pearl gigs at a yoga retreat in Sayulita. 

As you can see, we had a very minimal set up :)

I have so many good stories and memories of this era, and to this day, Natacha remains one of my most favorite people, but I slowly learned that I wanted to do this "business thing" on my own. 
However, I was still flustered over doing it all by myself, so I took an online business class for right brained people. I made a business plan in the form of a collage :) and reinvented myself as a solopreneur.

Here I am in Sayulita, trying to create on my new business plan, while also working on my whale job.

Some early Betina Roza designs.

Some of my classic designs evolved from these early prototypes.

I decided the business name had to be something that was personal to me, but at the same time pronounceable in Spanish and English, and also hopefully memorable!  I chose to create a variation of my mom's name: Betina is Betsy in German and Roza is Rose in Russian (we are a mix of the two). Truth be told, my mom's name was Betsy Ruth, not Betsy Rose, but the name Ruth in either Russian or German did not fit the "pronounceable" criteria!
So on June 16, 2014 I formed my first LLC and became Betina Roza.

My first Betina Roza logo :)

The same year I became Betina Roza, I started selling at Roche Harbor. This was one of my first days as an umbrella artist there!

Some of my early designs at my first few days at Roche Harbor.

 I still see some of these old, original designs around the Island!

At the time, I was still working full time and fully immersed at the Center for Whale Research.  But the siren call of "working for myself" and "just getting to make jewelry all day" became louder and harder to ignore. I tried- very hard in fact- to make both dreams work, but eventually the jewelry eclipsed the whales, and I left the Center in 2017. I loved that job in so many ways, but I was like a plant in a too-small pot. I needed to expand. Honestly, I was so very naive about what it meant to own a business, (I certainly was not blissfully "just making jewelry all day") but I was "all in" now and there was nowhere to go but up. I made lots of mistakes (still do!) and fumbled my way for many years, but that's a story for another time!

For now, suffice to say "Happy Birthday Betina Roza!", you are 10 years old and you've come a long way!

Brand New Beaded Heart Colors for Betina Roza's Birthday!
June 27, 2024 — Erin Heydenreich

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