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March 22, 2014

The Redhead Who Loved "Diamonds": The Story of Katya Valera

When I was a crazy little redhead running around (sounds a lot like me now, actually...) I had a definite thing for “diii-monds”—which meant anything clear that sparkled even a little. From then on, I always was drawn to jewelry—go in a store, must stop and gawk at the displays.

And I’ve always been a very creative person.

So why I didn’t think of putting the two together until I’d been around for more than two decades, I have no idea!

I’d heard of Etsy for years but hadn’t explored it, so when I was shopping around for bridesmaid jewelry in late 2011, I discovered these clay rose pieces all over Etsy. I loved them. And I then thought, couldn’t I make these? Some hunting on YouTube told me I could, so I decided I would. 

Some of my many clay pieces, part of my Veranda Collection

Most jewelry makers finally decide after much planning and thought and preparation to finally open their shop. I made my decision, ordered a bunch of supplies, and had my first ten items up for sale within two weeks. It was such a whim at the time, and I had no idea how much of my life it would come to take up, how much I would love it, or how much I needed it.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia the beginning of 2011 and soon after could no longer continue working as a freelance editor because of my symptoms. I needed a job from home where I was in charge and could tailor my work to my medical needs, working when I could but taking breaks at the drop of a hat when I had to, whether for a day or a month. And this was the answer—discovered on the spur of the moment without even realizing it until much later.

In the two years since then, my shop name has changed and my branding has transformed. I’ve become even more passionate about what I do. And I’ve gotten a lot better at the skill of actually making the jewelry. ;) But the essence of my shop has really remained the same, though hundreds of pieces have come and gone: an eclectic collection of old-soul, vintage-bohemian jewelry. (Credit to my best friend for finally pinning my style down in words.) There is such a wide variety in my pieces, yet they all have the same Katya Valera touch.

My creations have been almost exclusively one of a kind up until recently, and though I now offer several remake pieces, they are still the minority, and I’ll never be able to get away from whipping up a piece that cannot be exactly remade—it’s just too much fun!

So while I continue to struggle with my health, I find comfort and joy in creating and reassurance that though sick and stuck at home I can still contribute something of worth to those outside my medical bubble by crafting and shipping these little pieces of happiness all over the world. And this is one of the things I am most thankful for.

And just in case you’re curious about my shop name, back in my healthier days of college, I took two years of Russian and loved it with a passion. My in-class nickname of Katya soon spilled over into the rest of my life and has stayed with me since. Valera means “healthy,” which I am of course not. Thus put together, Katya Valera—“Healthy Kacie”—is my defiant undertaking in the face of my health problems.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me by shopping at Katya Valera, hosting parties, wearing my jewelry, spreading the word, and showing that it is truly jewelry you love. And thank you also to those of you reading this and following my blog, which has stemmed from my jewelry. 

I can’t imagine not making and selling my jewelry and am reminded how much I am meant to do this every time I sit back down at my work table after any length of absence. I can’t believe a whim has turned into something so priceless and beautiful. But God works in mysterious ways and is certainly fond of surprises, so why not?

P.S. Linking up with Throwback Thursday


  1. Kacie, thank you for linking up with Throwback Thursday. I love your shop and hearing your story!

  2. Thank you for linking up with 3 Southern Gals TBT. I favorited your etsy shop as well so I can check out all your beautiful things!! I also love how you mention as a lil girl anything that sparkled was a diamond. My daughter thinks the same thing. We went to a gem mine a few weeks ago and every rock she found she asked if it was a diamond because of any amount of sparkle :)
    I will be keeping you and your health in my thoughts and prayers, wow you are such an inspiration to so many!!

  3. I like the name, and where it stems from! :)


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