For Steffani Zavala, participation in the 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure was only the beginning of her love of the organization. Alongside her husband Luke, Steffani rode her bike from Seattle, Wash., to Washington, D.C., to raise funds and awareness for The Fuller Center for Housing.
Full of creative energy, Steffani has a passion for designing her own jewelry. “I first became interested in learning to make jewelry when I took my college roommate to a jewelry making class in downtown Chicago for her birthday. I had such a blast that I came home and started taking apart some of my broken jewelry and seeing if I could turn them into new pieces,” Steffani said of the beginnings of her interest. “From there, I developed a collection of beads using not only pieces of old jewelry, but bead donations from my mom and her friends, and gemstones I found at local jewelry shows.”
Steffani first shared this interest with others when she decided to make homemade jewelry for her bridesmaids as a unique gift. When it came to taking this interest to the next level, Steffani was hesitant to begin selling her work. She was interested in the online marketplace known as Etsy, where anyone can sell their creations. Before taking the plunge, she had a few criteria: it had to feel right, be symbolic to a life experience, and benefit an organization she cared about. After her 2016 Bike Adventure experience, the Fuller Center was at the forefront of her mind.
“I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us.”
“When I realized that my jewelry restoration process could be a metaphor for the housing restoration projects that The Fuller Center does, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind and started making pair after pair of earrings — more than 75 since being home from the trip, ending in August,” says Steffani of her post-adventure inspiration. “I only have about 25 or so listings on Etsy now, but I’m continuing to post them weekly, at least.” She said 75 percent of the proceeds are donated to The Fuller Center.
The earrings that Steffani makes are thought through individually, often expressing memories. “Each pair of earrings has a story, just like the people The Fuller Center builds houses for and the volunteers and employees who make it happen. This summer, instead of collecting souvenirs from every state or town we visited, I chose to collect stories. I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us. By making my earrings, I turn those moments into visual artwork pieces, materializing my experience.”
“I want the themes of listening to our hearts and hearing where we are being called to serve in this life to be prevalent–hence the name of my store, EndEARRINGly. The definition of endearingly is, ‘inspiring affection; to make dear or beloved.’ This name perfectly fits my vision.”
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