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  • Writer's pictureSamantha May Lee

My Journey from Ashes to Gold to Moissanite - Part 1

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

In my previous life, I played with chocolate, fondant, icing and cakes. Yes, I was a cake decorator. I even developed tools, molds and cutters to make sugar flowers and sold it to other cake decorators and cake decorating stores. I thought this was going to be my lifetime career. This was my identity. I will be a cake decorator until the day I decide to retire. I started this business in 2002 after I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu school in Pasadena, CA. But on the fateful day of January 8, 2018, my 3,500 sq ft. warehouse full of tools, packaging, cupcake liners, cake boxes, hundreds of my patented topsy turvy cake pans, all my cookie cutters and tools burned to the ground. Not a wall left standing.

A week prior to this incident, I was taking inventory of our slow-moving merchandise and packing them into groups to sell at cost to other stores so that I could free up some space on our shelves for the new inventory we just received. This inventory was still in the palette when this fire occurred. Our warehouse didn't have centralized heating so I had to use a space heater to keep me warm while I worked. On the morning of January 9th, I pulled in to the office driveway and this is the scene that welcomed me. The investigators couldn't determine for sure if the fire started from the space heater or the extension cord that I used.

Have you ever been gut-punched? Have you ever felt the wind was just knocked out of you and you couldn't breathe? Like the rug from under your feet was pulled and you've lost your standing? Have you ever woken up one morning and you feel like you have no purpose? When you have no clue what you're supposed to do when just the day before, your "to-do list" notebook was running out of lines for you to write on? These things accompanied by guilt, extreme sadness, paranoia, depression and other mixed emotions bombarded my days for the rest of 2018 (not to mention my battle with the insurance company which lasted for more than two years). I don't know where to go, what do to next--how do I continue this business? How do I rebuild a sixteen-year-old business? My 16 years' worth of work turned into ashes. 16 years worth of silicone molds, cake pans, blood, sweat and do you move forward from this?

Difficult as it may to look at the pictures of the charred remnants of my building and products, this photo of the thousands of cookie cutters to make sugar flowers stood out the most. I don't know if my brain was trying to prevent me from even deeper despair but when I looked at this picture again in the early months of 2019, I heard a voice in my head that said "I owned a bunch of trash. Thousands and thousands of company grew over the years and accumulated thousands of bent stainless steel strips and paper that were really worth nothing. Who could ever think there is value to this?" Then I started to think, "I need to start a business that is valuable.....not this. I am not spending one cent of my insurance money to buy more paper and bent strips of stainless steel"....the voice in my head said.

2018 was a year of mourning. Mourning the loss of my identity, mourning the loss of my 16 years of hard work, a business that was like my child. It demanded a lot of my time and my full attention. It had to be nourished and fed in order for it to grow and grew it did. But now, it's time to move on...2019 was the year to think. To think long and hard of what to do next. What should I become next? What business could I start that has an inventory that is actually valuable? Something that even if it burns will still hold its value? Gold and Silver! The voice inside my head said. Coins? Should I sell coins? I know nothing about it and it's not creative enough. I buy coins and then sell coins? Nope, not doing that..... Jewelry? Yes! That's a promising prospect! Gold and Silver jewelry? But the price of gold and silver goes up and down on a daily basis, plus it's boring! I am a creative species. I know that if I am not designing something or see colors or if I'm not using my hands to make something, I won't last in any career. Just making money isn't fun. If that is my goal, I'd try to become a day trader or learn to become a venture capitalist or learn stock trading, but I know my risk threshold of things I can't control is very little to none and my interest in math and numbers is that of a chimpanzee's. I need something that is fun to do on a daily basis plus I make money on the side. That's what I need to do and that's what I need to think more about. What can I do that is creative enough related to gold and silver......

I want to keep my blogs between 2 to 3 minute read because I know that this is about the length of time I can keep your attention. So please come back next week for the continuation of my journey of how I began Halley Reh and how Moissanite became my choice of gemstone. - Kaye Hartman

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