Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How KaratStix Came To Be, Part 1

After working in a technical job for many years, I took the leap in late 2006 to fulfill my very strong desire of building a new kind of lifestyle. My husband and I were in our early to mid-50s, and had just been married in September that year after having been together for 13 years. He had plans to retire in the not too distant future (he retired last October) and I wanted to see if I could build a stay-at-home business to help finance our retirement years -- before he retired. As I had no retirement income of my own (if you are reading this and in your 20s and 30s and you think you have lots of time to save -- start now), it was imperative to me to be able to help support a lifestyle that would allow us to thrive at this time in our lives, mentally, emotionally and financially. So I left my job in Silicon Valley (I was writing software installation programs) with the intention of figuring out what business I would have.

I took the first few months of my new found freedom lifestyle to explore ideas and at the same time I also started a new eating lifestyle -- a living raw food vegan. I have always loved food of all kinds and though I had been fairly slim most of my life, the sweets, fats, pastas, breads, etc. had taken their toll and I did not think that this was a healthy way to eat. I had always naturally gravitated away from alcohol, cigarettes, pills, etc., but I did love coffee (for a time I actually thought a venti decaf latte made with whipping cream instead of milk and sweetened with equal was healthy!!!) and so you ask what does this have to do with 'KaratStix'? It will become clearer :)

I started eating all of this amazing food that I had never experienced before -- in the raw anyway. Especially young thai coconuts -- I was making some amazing smoothies -- pina coladas to die for! (no alcolhol) and raw chocolate smoothies, and desserts without sugar that tasted like heaven! And they were good for me :). So one day I had just opened a coconut and was tossing this big shell in the trash (and another transformation had taken hold of me -- the 'green' lifestyle too :) ) and it dawned on me that many other people in the world were taking these and making things with them -- not throwing them away. I wondered what I could do with it. I still hadn't figured out what my business was going to be, although I did know I wanted it to relate to knitting.

So I took the coconut husk/shell out of the trash and decided to carve away the white husk to reveal the shell. What fun that was -- discovering what the coconut shell actually looked like under there :). And it didn't look like all the other coconut shell products I'd seen before. I cleaned it out real well and set it outside in the sun to dry for a few days. I didn't have any cutting tools, so I took a hammer to it to see how hard it was -- it was pretty tough. So I thought that was good, and I did manage to break it up into odd shapes. I had a dremel tool so I started sanding on a piece, smoothing the edges and surfaces and I liked what was happening. And then I was thinking what could I make with this? Stitch markers? Beads? Buttons??? I drilled a couple of holes. I took out a woodburning tool and made some designs and then there were some colored pencils that came with the woodburning tool so I colored on some. Hmmm. This was fun! I then remembered that I had some koolaid packets that I had kept to use on some wool that I had wanted to try dyeing. So I jumped up and threw some of the buttons into some dye.

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