Product Spotlight: Crafted Elegance
It turns out that frustration is the mother of invention too.
When Dianalynn Varin was diagnosed with CIDP, an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system, she realized that she would have to drastically change her work habits. She needed to stay in a home environment where she could remain productive, while better accommodating herself, her illness and her ongoing treatments. No problem for a degreed professional to find viable work from home, right? Wrong.
Perturbed by her inability to secure employment, Dianalynn chose to make her own. She launched Crafted Elegance, an online store featuring her exquisite, custom-made soaps. Then came the inspired decision to expand her online venue to include the works of other artists and crafters with disabilities.
“I know I am not the only person who has the need to work from home due to a disability or illness,” she explained. But Dianalynn took her business model even further: not only does she provide the forum for these talented individuals to sell their artistry, she also handles all of the backend duties of accounting, marketing, advertising, fulfillment and customer service.
“I found by actually talking with folks that they wanted to sell their crafts, but did not want all the responsibility that went along with selling online and owning a website,” she said. “[This arrangement] enables them to spend more time creating and making their crafts.”
Crafted Elegance now offers a wide variety of high-quality, handmade crafts—from quilts to jewelry to homemade dolls to embroidery to graphic art to photography and so much more. The website features 23 distinct product categories with a substantial number of arts and crafts in each.
For Dianalynn, this is about more than selling goods. “I want to help empower other people with disabilities to take back their sense of self worth. I want them to feel productive and fulfilled," she insisted. "I wanted to provide a place where they can show off their incredible talent and ability to create beautiful crafts while providing the opportunity for them to make some extra income to help support themselves and their families.”
Within her community of artists, you’ll find Kelly Cuba, the widowed mother of seven who has parleyed her rosary-making sills into a host of custom jewelry options. You’ll meet David Fox who, after being diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease, discovered his talent for photo manipulation and graphic design. Or Learlean Rockingham whose severe degenerative arthritis is no match for her beautiful clothing, handbags, cloth books or her passion for teaching her skills to others. And that is just for starters.
"Being disabled does not mean unable. It just means we have to take a different path to arrive at the same destination as everyone else," said Dianalynn.
Visit www.craftedelegance.org to see these wonderful crafts and read the inspiring stories of the gifted people who make the magic happen. You are sure to find the perfect gift for a loved one or a unique piece to add to your own collection.