Home » Blog » Behind the Maker Series

Category: Behind the Maker Series

Shop the Lyme gift guide for apparel & accessories that spread hope & awareness! Click for more.

A Lyme Support & Awareness Gift Guide

Today I am beyond excited to share the creative work of some of the most fierce and lovely ladies I’ve been lucky enough to “meet” in the Lyme community. Their stories, talents, and vision all funnel toward the same positive message. And it is one of hope, courage, and compassion.

The wonder of the internet is that though I’ve never sat down and had coffee with any of these ladies, they’ve each had an impact on me. As they’ve shared their healing journeys and creative work, their strength and light have inspired and challenged me in some of the moments I needed it most. And I’m thrilled to share some love for them and their amazing talent here in this Lyme gift guide!

I’ve asked each of them to share a look at what led them to create their pieces, so enjoy hearing from the creators themselves!

Lauren Lovejoy
Lyme Warrior

Lyme Warrior Lyme Won't Sink Me V Neck and Warrior Bracelet

Lyme Warrior is a group of volunteers raising funds for Lyme research. With Lyme Disease being widely disregarded by the medical field, it is up to us to find a cure. It is one thing to fight for what’s right, but it takes amazing people to fight for what’s right while fighting Lyme.

You can find the Lyme Warrior shop here!

Melissa Cox
Lyme Don’t Kill My Vibe

Lyme Don't Kill My Vibe Unisex Tee and Flowy Yoga Tank

As an extension of my blog, Lipstick Warpaint, I created #LymeDontKillMyVibe, a hashtag primarily used on Instagram to spread positivity and awareness surrounding Lyme and associated conditions. The original design + slogan was created in 2014 almost 1 year after I was diagnosed with Lyme. At that time, there were very limited Lyme awareness apparel options that felt truly empowering.

I’m a huge hip hop fan and the slogan just came to me one day while listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” back in 2013. It became a near-daily mantra, and one day I decided THIS needs to be a thing. I now have a second edition design which was created in December 2016 with the help of my Lyme fightin’ entrepreneur friend Elise Graham. What I love most about Lyme Don’t Kill My Vibe is it encompasses both strength and community. There are over 25,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag alone, and it feels like such a positive step toward reclaiming what healing means.

You can purchase them (with new items being added this summer!) at Lipstickwarpaint.org/shop or find me on Etsy

Kerissa B.
Tx Stitch

Lyme Disease Sucks Pin by TX Stitch

I never really felt like I was a creative person before Lyme. There’s something about being forced to be in bed that made my hands feel idle. I started cross stitching and created an Etsy shop and slowly expanded to have exactly 1 patch and 1 pin. I wanted to create something Lyme related that was simple but really told people that it’s not a great thing to have. Thus, the pin was born.

Kacie Fleming
Katya Valera Jewelry

Katya Valera Jewelry Rising Above Lyme Bar Necklace & Frame Necklace Collection

I’d been a fan of Kami’s RAL (Rising Above Lyme) phrase and shirt line since she first released the shirts a while back. Being the spontaneous creative that I am, the idea of collaborating with her for some RAL jewelry flashed through my brain one day, and I jumped right in and contacted her with my idea. Thankfully she loved it, and thus began a good couple months of planning and work!

Originally I envisioned frame necklaces that feature text images designed by Kami, and then I developed the idea for a piece that visually represents the phrase—the bar necklace. We then added a minimalist, very lime wedge-style piece, and the collection was complete. I’m so grateful to have gotten to work with Kami on this collection and to be able to help inspire and encourage others who are on a similar journey.

Shop Katya Valera here!

Chloe O’Neill
More Than Lyme

More Than Lyme Keep on Keepin' On Tee and Canvas Tote

No matter where you are right now, know that you are enough. No matter how scared you feel, know that you are not alone. No matter how often you feel like giving up, remember that you are strong enough to have made it this far, so why not choose to keep on keepin’ on?

Why not take all the adventures you’ve gone on, mishaps you’ve had, and pain you endured, and use them to create a full and happy life for yourself? A life where no matter how hard things have been, or are going to be, you know that tomorrow will be worth it. You know that you are worth it.

You know that you are enough.

Regardless of where you’re at, what you’re doing, or how you feel, remember that you’re more than your doubts, your fears, and illness that hides beneath your skin.

Click to shop MTL! A code that people can use for 15% off is SHAREYOURSTORY. 

Kami Lingren
Rising Above Lyme

Rising Above Lyme Tee and Graceful & Fierce Tank from Living Grace Shop. Click to shop!

Hey, that’s me! 😉 Last year I had the phrase “Rising Above Lyme” on repeat in the back of my mind. Partly because I think it’s so easy to find ourselves consumed by our health challenges. And understandably so. But I didn’t want my story to be solely defined as “sick”. So I created a shirt that would remind me that my life’s purpose and worth are not defined by my circumstances. Rather, by my conscious effort to engage my life in spite of them. And I wanted the message to inspire and validate others who were fiercely healing as well!

This year I added the Graceful and Fierce design, which I feel resonates so deeply with the essence I strive for. To fiercely love, heal, advocate and show compassion, but to also be gentle with ourselves and others as we live, learn and heal. And what a beautiful thing it is to embrace both in our lives.

You can find the entire Living Grace collection hereAnd use code RISING this month for 15% off your order!

Have you been dreaming of creating something to help raise awareness and hope? I hope this Lyme gift guide inspires you to embrace that dream and make it a reality!

Lyme Creatives Gift Guide for spreading Lyme disease awareness and support! Click to shop items created BY women healing from Lyme FOR others also healing!
Lyme Awareness Wear: Gifts and Apparel for those healing from Lyme Disease. Click to check out all of these amazing creatives!

Check out these other posts...

If you're thinking of ways to work from home while chronically ill, Ivy's story of starting her own business is a great place to start! She shares how she started a business that worked for HER.

Behind the Maker: An interview with Ivy Cirillo

Every time the week comes for this series, I feel so much anticipation. I have so much excitement to share the talent and creations of these amazing humans AND I always love how inspiring their stories are.

It takes guts and grace to make it through each day with chronic illness. And I know that it takes a whole different level of drive, determination, and heart to work from home. And these ladies WORK IT. They have repeatedly left me amazed at what they create!

Today’s guest is Ivy Cirillo from the Perfectly Ambitious blog. She is such a talented designer and I can’t wait to introduce her and her creations with you!

A little intro from Ivy:

I hate talking about myself, but here it goes! I’m a 20 something, military spouse, spoonie, blogger, artist, graphic designer, and (soon to be) author! I’m a complete Taurus and I spoil those that I love. More specifically, my husband and our three fur babies 🙂

Biggest dream: Honestly, my dreams have changed a lot and I suspect that they’ll change again in the future. However, at this point in time, my biggest dream is to become a successful published author. Overall though, I just want to find my own success and embrace it!

Current binge-worthy TV show: This is a hard one! Being home-bound, I’m currently caught up with over 20 shows 😂 Right now though, my husband and I are watching Beauty and the Beast during every meal, so I’m gonna go with that one!

Favorite food/meal?
I’m really picky, so I stick to the kids menu when it comes to food. Chicken tenders, french fries, and honey mustard would have to be my favorite though!

Part of the Bees & Butterflies Photo Bundle

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, where you grew up, your fam?

I was born and raised in Florida, with my brother, my mom, and my step-dad. We lived in a small beach town that no one’s ever heard of, unless you lived there, and everyone knew everyone else. Growing up, my cousins were always less than 30 minutes away and eventually we were walking distance. For a very long time, I was the only girl out of the four of us, but that just means I can hold my ground & throw a perfect spiral 🙂

When were you first diagnosed with your chronic illness? What effects has your illness had on your life?

Unfortunately, I’ve had a long battle trying to determine my diagnosis. My first big one was in 2011/2012, but I didn’t receive a bulk of my illnesses until 2016. I believe I’ve got a total of 18 diagnoses now and each one has had a major effect on my life. Over the years, everything has grown harder on my body and it’s effected both my personal and professional life. At the moment, I’ve had to give up school and work, but I’m hoping to get back to them someday!

Resume Template for Microsoft

How did you decide on your business name?

As you can image, with all the time I spend at home, I learn and master skills quite frequently. In doing so, I move on quickly while still enjoying all of my previous and ongoing projects. Of course, my friends and family took notice and deemed me “too ambitious.” So, I came up with Perfectly Ambitious as a way to describe myself and all of the amazing people like me!

How did you choose the products you would sell + create?

Originally, I ran a shop with handmade items (jewelry, decor, etc.) and I soon realized that the upkeep of having a physical product took a toll on my body. After my right heart catheterization, I decided I needed to make a change! So, I turned to my other passions and started selling digital products and services. Now, I focus on graphic design, social media marketing, and virtual assisting!

Blog Organizing Printable created by Ivy Cirillo
Marble Texture Blog Binder

How do you manage running a shop while fighting illness? Do you have others who help you?

When I was selling physical products, I wasn’t managing my shop at all. I constantly needed help and I leaned on my husband a lot, mostly when it came to packing and shipping packages. Now though, I’ve got everything under control and I rarely need help! And when I do, it’s usually just asking which image my husband likes more 🙂

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about opening their first shop?

I’d say go for it! If that’s what you want to do, then don’t let anyone talk you out of it! If you do though, remember not to compare yourself to others. You and your shop will grow in it’s own time and eventually you will flourish! So don’t let someone else’s stats get you down. Just work hard and push forward, I promise it will pay off!

Anything else you want to add or share about you or your shop(s)?

Yes! Even though, I’ve taken a break from my physical shop, I still love creating. So, I’d be more than happy to create something for you or a loved one! Not only that, but I’d love to help you in anyway that I can. So feel free to reach out to me about anything and everything!

Behind the Maker: An interview with shop owner, Ivy Cirillo. Hear how she opened her own business, tips for success, and check out her beautiful designs!

Ivy is a wife, a creator, and a photographer, but her biggest label? Spoonie. On her blog, Ivy writes about all of the things that she loves, and the things that she does, and how being a spoonie affects those things! She shares her projects, her feelings, and the inspirational women in her life. She believes that she is perfectly ambitious, and she’d love to feature those of you who are as well! Ivy is also a military wife currently living in Alabama. She runs her blog and her shop from home and also works on her novels in her spare time.

You can find Ivy on her blog, Perfectly Ambitious and check out her designs in her shop and hire her for a variety of services on Fiverr.

You can also connect with her on the following social media sites:  Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram 

To read more stories like Ivy’s be sure to check out the rest of the series!

There is so much beauty in giving gifts that are handmade by small business. This network of shoppers is near and dear to my heart as each shop owner lives with a chronic illness. So inspiring!

Christmas With Conscious Crafties


There are several camps of Christmas shoppers, I’ve decided. There’s the uber planner who is done before Thanksgiving. The last minute, week of Christmas shopper. The gradual/early December shopper. And probably more.

I feel like I gravitate toward the gradual/early December category, but honestly? I can be as last minute as they come. (face palm) But for the ones still working on their shopping, I thought I’d share some opportunities for us to support other chronically ill business owners this season!

Today’s feature is this month’s installment of the Behind the Maker series on the blog: Conscious Crafties. You may have noticed their banner off to the side if you read my blog from a computer/laptop. 🙂

Proud Supporter of Conscious Crafties - banner

Conscious Crafties is an online marketplace where the chronically ill can sell their handmade goods and have the support of other chronic creatives. It’s a worldwide platform with many shops based out of the United Kingdom, but more shops popping up in the U.S. and beyond as they grow!

You’ll find a wide variety of items available, from jewelry and handmade clothing accessories to home decor and so much more. It’s a beautiful collision of all things creative!

It was started by the lovely Karen Thomas, who herself has been battling illness since 2011. She created this space in an effort to bring purpose to the lives of the chronically ill and I dare say she’s doing a stand up job of that!

I connected with her this year through the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and knew I wanted to spread the word of what she and this fabulous marketplace are doing. And I had an inkling my readers would welcome it with open arms, because, well – you’re amazing!

So I thought I’d highlight a few things that caught my eye!

Gutsy Goodness

A look inside the shops at Conscious Crafties: An online marketplace for chronically ill creatives!

These necklaces are from the shop Gutsy Goodness and are handmade by Lisa Copen. When I saw her shop I realized I was familiar with her face! I somehow stumbled upon her Facebook page a couple years ago and that was one of my first connections with other chronically ill women. I was so grateful for it!

A look behind a shop of Conscious Crafties, a marketplace for the chronically ill handmade shops!

Here’s a little snippet of Lisa’s story from her shop:

“I have always been drawn to creating something with my hands and writing. Ironically my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis set the stage for narrowing my focus. I was diagnosed at the age of 24 in 1993, and out of that came my organization, Rest Ministries, a faith-based support 501(c)3 nonprofit. This gave me the chance to become an author, speaker, and I also began a national outreach through Invisible Illness Awareness Week in 2002.”

Mandi Moo Logos

Aren't these towels from Mandi Moo Logos adorable? See more items from the online marketplace, Conscious Crafties!

Follow Amanda’s shop on Facebook.

Amanda Bardgett’s shop focuses on embroidery and her pieces are amazing. Are these towels not the absolute cutest little things ever?! The embroidery on these towels is just beautiful. I’ve decided those robins can visit me anything they want! 😉

And these baby gingerbread men get all the heart eyes from me – SO CUTE!

Beautiful embroidery work by Amanda Bardgett's shop Mandi Moo Logos are so beautiful!

A little bit of Amanda’s story:

“For a long time I had thought about running my own business, but just didn’t know what to do. One day Mum saw and advert for a embroidery machine, ‘you could do that!’ she said. So, along came this huge machine which initially I was terrified of! Eventually after several months I braved it and in January of this year (2016) I jumped in.”

So glad you did, Amanda!

Everybody Should Feel Beautiful By Lea

This gorgeous Aquamarine and Sterling Silver necklace is handmade with care by a Conscious Crafty! Visit Lea's shop to find more beautiful items!

Who wouldn’t be able to get on board with Lea’s shop name?! Everyone should feel beautiful. I love the choice of aquamarine in this gorgeous sterling silver necklace. It’s somehow both bold and delicate, all at the same time.

Looking for a gift for the daring dreamer in your life? This unicorn pendant handmade by Lea's shop Everyone Should Feel Beautiful is a gorgeous idea!

Her shop carries gorgeous rings, earrings and necklaces that fit a variety of styles that are sure to brighten someone’s Christmas morning. Like this unicorn pendant and chain! Pretty sure my unicorn leggings would approve.

Spoon Lady Smile Shop

This shop is one I wanted to highlight. Are you familiar with the Spoon Theory? If not you can read more about it here. The author of the Spoon Theory, Christine Miserandino has been dealt an incredibly hard hand this year and this shop was set up by the Conscious Crafties to contribute to her fundraiser. Each item listed in the shop has been donated and the proceeds will go toward her surgery and treatment fund.

Visit Conscious Crafties to support chronically ill Handmade shops!

Isn’t this embroidered snowman cosmetic bag donated by Julie Vale’s shop so adorable?!  You can snatch this cutie up for yourself or a friend here. Julie’s shop carries cosmetic bags and adorably embroidered water bottle cozies.

Support handmade by purchasing from Paprika Jewelry at Conscious Crafties!


Laura McKee donated this vintage style butterfly box for the Smile Shop which has been lined with felt for safekeeping of your jewelry or trinkets. Her shop, Paprika Jewelry & Accessories, carries hand crafted jewelry, brooches, cards and more!

The Spoon Lady Smile Shop is a great place to start if you’re wanting to purchase some gifts for Christmas! Not only will you feel great supporting handmade work, but you’ll be directly helping another illness warrior in their fight.

There are TONS of other shops on Conscious Crafties and they’re loaded to the brim with items to browse and purchase for your Christmas gifts this year! If you find something in the marketplace that we just NEED to know about, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Looking to open your own shop on Conscious Crafties? You can read up on the process here.

Check out these other posts...

Join us for our next installment of the Behind the Maker series as we interview owner of Nature Bound, Kirstin Larkin!

Nature Bound: Handmade Decor by Kirstin Larkin

Kirstin Larkin is joining us today on the blog to share more about her GORGEOUS shop. She and I first connected through the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network and this girl is the real deal. Her light, authenticity and spirit have inspired me since the first post of hers I read. And I’ve been looking forward to this feature of her story and beautiful handmade decor (& more) with you all!

But enough of my chatter. Let’s meet our guest!

Meet Kirstin

Meet Kirstin Larkin, Owner of Nature Bound. Chronic Illness may have taken a toll on her life, but her heart and spirit radiate creativity and passion in spite of it all.

Connect with Kirstin:
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Kirstin’s favorite motto:

I strongly live by the phrase: “Live life to fullest because it only happens once”. After all I have experienced in my short life I have realized how quickly our lives can be taken from us. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so I would hate to miss out on creating one or ten thousand rad memories.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, where you grew up and your family?

I grew up in south Texas in a beach town called Corpus Christi. The sun shined brightly in this wonderful town and there was always some type of body to water to swim in. I fell in love with the water at the young age of nine months old when my parents put me in baby swim classes.

When I was not at the beach with friends I was usually with my grandparents. I was very lucky to grow up with both my grandparents and great grandparents. I believe being around them every weekend helped mold me into a kind, caring person. We were a strong family unit and still are to this day.

Even though my parents divorced when I was in elementary school they remained very close. I hated that I could never get away with anything because they would always check with the other parent to see if it was ok if I did something. Looking back now I feel grateful to have parents that stayed friends despite their differences and always still excepted each other as family.

Kirstin, Owner of Nature Bound: "Live life to the fullest because it only happens once."
Photo by Lucero Molina

When were you first diagnosed with your chronic illness? What effects has your illness had on your life?

My whole life change one May morning in 2010. I woke up and immediately felt something was wrong with my body. Minutes later I fainted and the rest is history. I went from being completely independent and living the normal 21 year-old life to then becoming bed ridden depending on my mom for total care.

We searched and searched for a diagnosis, but no doctor knew what was wrong with me except one nice man at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He immediately diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and then a few months later I received the diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders to hear it was not all in my head, but I still could not help but mourn the person who I envisioned I was going to be. I am thankful my symptoms have become more stable, but I still find myself getting frustrated that my body functions differently, causing me to have many limitations.

How did you come up with the name for your shop?

The name ‘Nature Bound’ was created during a very low point in my life. At the time I was home bound for several months due to my chronic illnesses. The only outings I could have were ten minute visits to my backyard. I would sit under the warm sun and meditate to the birds chirping, and wind blowing. In these quiet moments outside, I realized how nature was helping me in my process of healing. Since I had such a strong shift of acceptance and grounding during this time of my I life, I decided that those two words had to be the name of my small business.

Nature Bound

What inspired you to open your shop?

Back in 2012, I decided to open an online shop after receiving such positive feedback from small feathered headbands and necklaces I was making from found feathers in my backyard. It first started out as a hobby to help stimulate my brain since I was house bound, and my friends, family and strangers loved them!

Hearing everyone’s positive feedback help relight my fire inside that had extinguished because of my new life with medical problems. I was sparked with passion, inspiration, and desires once again which was such an exciting feeling! People and the earth both helped give a piece of me back so I was inspired to make art that would push others to look at nature differently.

Hear Kirstin's story of starting her own shop while chronically ill. She's a true gem!

How do you manage running a shop while fighting illness? Do you have others who help you?

Running Nature Bound while fighting several chronic illnesses can be very difficult! This is a one woman show and sometimes it can be very hard to do everything by myself. At times managing all the tasks and never ending to do list is tough so I always give myself at least two week window to complete any project just in case my body decides to be naughty. My health is always my first priority so if it not doing well then I will close the shop until I am well enough to work again.

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about opening their first shop?

I would anyone who is thinking about opening their own small business is to just take the plunge and just go for it! We are the kings and queens of self-destruction, and can come up with a million excuses why our shop is not ready for the public. The reality is, your shop will never be perfect. You will constantly be learning something new like how to take better product photographs, or a better way to advertise your store or describe your item. So your shop will always be changing in relationship to your growth.

Handmade Decor for the Home by Kirstin Larkin of Nature Bound
Photo by Lucero Molina

Anything else you want to add or share about you or your shop(s)?

One of my many goals with Nature Bound is to reuse as many supplies as possible from the natural elements I source to my packaging materials to show that there is still much life left in items we are taught to think of as trash. Instead of discarding a bird feather or letting wood rot, I reshape & mold it into something new. It is my goal to inspire you to take in all of the elements that surround you everyday and tred lightly in the process. Hopefully my pieces will encourage you to be at peace, and appreciate all the small beauties that this world offers us while adding warmth and love to your home.

Special Discount for Living Grace readers!

Kirstin has generously offered a 15% off coupon for you to use in her shop! Use code KAMI15 from now until December 15, 2016. Christmas gifts, anyone?!

What’s your favorite item from Kirstin’s shop? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Check out these other posts...

Allergen Free Ice Cream Recipes Created by Lyme Warrior, Michele Goldman

An Allergen-Free Ice Cream eBook by Michele Goldman!

**This post contains an affiliate link which means I receive a portion of the sale at no cost to you.**

Back in August I began interviewing a new business owner each month that also fights a chronic illness. I (and I’m guessing YOU) have continued to be inspired by each of their stories and amazed at their creativity!

Well today’s guest, Michele Goldman, is no different. Michele and I first met on Instagram in a community of illness fighters. She and a couple other lovelies who also fight illness started this great project on Instagram that you should most definitely check out!

When I saw she was releasing an allergen-free ice cream eBook I was thrilled! I don’t share a ton about my diet here, but I do my best to stay away from dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten and limit my egg intake.  I knew I wanted to introduce her and this book to you guys, as well as get to know more of her story!

So without further introduction, here she is!

Meet Michele Goldman: Creator of the Ice Creame Book

Meet Michele…

Hi! I’m Michele, I’m 39 yrs old and I live in Montreal, Canada. Like Kami I deal with Chronic Lyme disease, so a lot of my life is spent managing my health. Some things I’m passionate about: green beauty, web design, and of course… ice cream!

Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

My mother always says, “go for what you want – you might not get it, but go for it”. I love this way of thinking and try to live my life with this in mind. Starting something new is always intimidating, for example I’d never made an eBook before and wasn’t sure how to go about it. But if you just go for it, keep plugging away, most of the time you can make it happen.

Or sometimes it’s about asking for what you want, expressing what you need. A lot of times we assume the answer will be no, or maybe we don’t deserve something. But if you just ask, sometimes things go your way! And if they don’t, that’s okay too.

What’s your favorite food?

It’s a toss-up between my ice cream recipes and popcorn. I’m not supposed to eat popcorn too much but I make it with olive oil, himalayan salt, pepper, paprika and nutritional yeast. So yummy! Luckily my ice cream recipes are fine within my diet so I eat those more regularly.

Are you looking for allergen-free ice cream recipes? Check out Michele's book!

Favorite thing to do/hobby?

When I had more energy, I loved going salsa dancing or tango dancing, that was so much fun. Now my passion is web design, that’s what I get most excited about. I’m also into green beauty – looking at swatches online and watching makeup tutorials. Finally, I like trying new recipes and finding ways to make healthy food super delicious.

Where are you from?

I was born in New York City and my family moved to Montreal, Canada when I was 8 years old. I mostly feel Canadian, but something about walking the streets of New York City with all it’s quirky characters, I do feel at home there. I’ve spent some time in Toronto, but Montreal has been home base for most of my life. It’s a fun city with great character, but January through April is tough. Our winters are pretty brutal.

Dream travel destination?

I’ve always wanted to go to Buenos Aires – get a little apartment, do web design by day and tango lessons by night. This is a life dream of mine.

She couldn't find the recipes that would fit her diet so she created her own! Meet Michele and check out her amazing allergen-free ice cream book! Sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free and more!

Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself? Your family?

I’m very close with my mother and sister, who both live in Montreal. We’ve been through a lot and yet we manage to keep our sense of humor. I know I’m very lucky to have them.

I know you and I share a Lyme diagnosis. When you were you first diagnosed? How has illness affected your day-to-day?

I was actually first diagnosed 20yrs ago, when I was 19yrs old. I got a bulls-eye rash, the flu, all the classic symptoms. I didn’t know anything about Lyme disease, the doctor gave me two weeks antibiotics and sent me on my way.

In the following years, I started having more and more weird symptoms. I’d ask my doctor if it could be Lyme, they said no, I’d been treated. In my mind, Lyme disease was “joint pain”, which didn’t come for me until later. By the time I was 26 years old, I was in the worst shape of my life and could barely function. It still took about eight months to get properly diagnosed. I’ve been fighting ever since, with ups and downs, but overall moving in the right direction.

Illness has affected every part of my life. I’m doing a bit better than last year but I still can’t work. I can do short outings but they take great effort – I’m pushing through symptoms all the time. I’m in bed most of the day, I need to rest a lot. It’s frustrating, overwhelming, sad, but I’ve found ways to get through and cope as best I can. I accept my situation and try to make the best of it.

You don't have to have an ice cream maker to make these delicious allergen friendly ice cream recipes. Don't these fudgesicles look to die for? Read my interview with the creator, Michele Goldman.

What inspired you to create your Ice Cream Recipe Book?

I’ve been making these recipes for years and I so enjoy them. While there might be some dairy-free ice cream recipes out there, I’ve looked and looked and couldn’t find anything that was also egg-free, low carb and completely sugar-free (no maple syrup, honey etc). Or if I did find some recipes, they would use mostly full fat coconut milk, which I found was too heavy and coconut tasting.

So like any inventor, I created what I wanted. I’d always thought about making an ebook of my recipes, but I never got around to it until this past summer. I really want people to know – you can eat delicious treats and not compromise your health!

How do you manage running a business while fighting illness? Do you have others who help you?

The awesome thing about creating a digital asset is you do the work up front, both creating the thing and setting up the systems, then it’s mostly automated.

Creating the ebook was a bit hard at times, but I did as much as I could and rested when I needed to. Editing was difficult with my brain fog and perfectionist tendencies, but my sister helped me out alot with that.

In terms of organization, I would be lost without my favorite apps! Because of my brain fog and exhaustion, it can be difficult to keep track of all the little things I need to do. I use a combination of Todoist, Trello and Google Calendar (those trusty reminders) to make sure I stay on top of everything.

Michele Goldman's Ice Cream recipe book is stock full of fabulous recipes for those with chronic illness or following a restricted diet. Allergen-friendly, sugar free and delicious!

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a business while ill?

Do it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these talented, smart, funny people on social media and I think, please take what you know and make an ebook, or a video course, or something. I strongly believe digital assets are a great option for people with chronic illness because – like I said – once you’ve created it you can sell it many times.

I would also suggest not setting deadlines for yourself, as much as possible. I realize that’s the opposite of what most people say, but if you announce a launch date then go through a flare, it adds stress and pressure. Anyone with illness should minimize their stress as much as possible. So work hard but also be gentle with yourself. Always take the time to rest when you need to, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Anything else you want to add or share about you or your book/business?

Thank you Kami for this feature, what a cool idea to highlight people with chronic illness starting businesses.

If people are on a sugar-free diet, candida diet, paleo, low carb etc, I encourage you to check out my ebook! I’m offering your readers a 20% discount for one week, code: KAMI. This will be active until Friday October 14th at 11:59 pm EST. Enjoy!

Are you ready to dive into the pages of her book or WHAT?! These recipes are gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and sugar free, with substitutions for nut and seed allergies as well. One of my favorite aspects is that she has included instructions for how to make each of these WITHOUT an ice cream maker! Anyone can make these.

Click here to purchase your very own copy of her allergen-free ice cream eBook!

Looking for allergen-safe ice cream recipes? These are dairy, soy, gluten, egg and sugar free, without losing delicousness.

Check out these other posts...

Behind the Maker: Meet the owner of TrendyStop. Hannah's story is sure to inspire. As someone who has faced many challenges with her health, her spirit of determination and her passion for creativity shine through her handmade items featured in her shop!

Making in Illness: Hannah from TrendyStop (+ Special Offer!)

Last month I began this new series and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I’m loving getting to know each of these shop owners. And it’s such a special thing to then be able to share their stories and creations with you!

Today’s guest is Hannah Moore. She and I connected on Instagram over our shared struggle of Lyme and an all-too-similar ache for motherhood. Beyond her strong spirit in her fight against Lyme and other illnesses, the amount of creativity and beauty she’s put into her shop will impress anyone!

Before I introduce her I just have to show you the items that Hannah sent my way to try out. YOU GUYS. This scarf!! That wristlet! I wore the scarf for the first time on our recent trip to the coast and I’m in love.


An Interview with Hannah Moore: Owner of TrendyStop! Handmade Scarves, Wristlets and More!


Behind the Maker: An interview with Hannah Moore, owner of TrendyStop


Now for the BEST part of this post:

Get to know Hannah


Meet Hannah Moore: Maker of Handmade Scarves, Head Wraps


Connect with Hannah on Facebook | Instagram

A few of Hannah’s faves:

Favorite Motto: “If you’re going through hell, just keep going.”

Favorite Food: I lucked out and married a man who loves grilling, so I have gotten quite attached to his phenomenal steaks on the grill. Cheesy potato casserole to go with, and I’m a happy lady.

Favorite TV to Watch: I’m not ashamed to admit that I watch a LOT of tv, with most of my true favorites being reality shows. Human behavior has always fascinated me. However, I’d choose a football game (specifically my GB Packers) over any show, any day!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised near Milwaukee, WI. I lived in Minneapolis for a few years around college, but came back to Wisconsin. I moved up “north” to Oshkosh when I got married, and have grown content with a slightly slower pace of life, and the lack of traffic!

Can you tell me about your family?

My family and husband are my world. We are a tight group with a tremendous amount of love for each other. I’m the oldest, with a young sister and then brother. We all work hard on bettering ourselves, supporting each other, having a lot of laughs, and enjoying the little things together.

When were you first diagnosed with your chronic illness? What effects has your illness had on your life?

I’ve had a weak immune system since I was young. I became a restaurant manager at 23 and saw a desirable future in front of me for the first time in my life. Things were going really great and I was getting awesome opportunities and feedback.

Then I started going downhill in the health department. I pushed for another year, but finally couldn’t even get out of bed. I had to give up my job in early 2010 and lost most of myself in the process.

I saw some improvements as I began with a holistic doctor, but became drastically worse on my honeymoon in 2012. In early 2014, after getting laughed out of many offices, I found a doctor that knew to look for chronic Lyme. He ordered tests and started my early treatment.

A Look Behind Trendy Stop: Handmade scarves, pacifier clips, head wraps and more! Meet Hannah's story of fighting chronic illness and running her own handmade shop!

Three years later, I’ve switched doctors and treatments several times, but I am so thankful to have fantastic help now. I will likely be done with treatment in a few months, and almost all of my symptoms are gone.

It’s been brutal to lose my personality, ability to be active, annoying friends when needing to cancel plans, and missing lots of fun events, to name a few. The most painful aspect has been having to put my deep desire for motherhood on hold. I’ve always felt that is my one real purpose in life, but I’ve been too terrified to pass on the Lyme. My husband has been the most patient man, my rock and my happy place. I will never take that for granted!

What inspired you to open TrendyStop? How did you decide on what products you wanted to create?

I was living in Maryland with my husband for his job, and I was barely functional and bored. I’d grown up sewing, thanks to my professional seamstress Grandma and experienced Mom. I knew I remembered the basics and wanted to make a few infinity scarves for myself, so I ordered up a miniature machine.

I threw up a few photos on Facebook and was surprised at the response. I’ve wanted to have my own business since I was pretty young, so I combined the two concepts and put my heart into making it a success. I have a lot of awesome supporters who helped me take off, and a couple ladies who mentored me along the way.

Check out TrendyStop: The place to shop for handmade scarves, head wraps, pacificer clips and baby & kid scarves!

As the seasons change, I try to come up with other items that will sell in the warmer weather, but I always focus on keeping my items fashionable and leaning towards the practical side. Customer service, creativity and working with my hands have always been where I thrive, so I absolutely love that this business combines all of those and more! Having this purpose the last few years has gotten me through the many hard days, and it always puts a smile on my face to see a positive review.

How do you manage running a shop while fighting illness? Do you have others who help you?

My orders and business averages out to a part time job, so it ends up being pretty flexible for me to be able to work on tasks when I have better hours and/or days. Once I started though, I found that working with my hands always makes me feel better, so it’s been healing.

My husband assists me at craft fairs and hangs out in my work loft if I need to do projects into the night, but I mostly work alone. I’m very particular about my items, so that’s probably best.

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about opening their first shop?

I would tell that person to make sure they really love what they want to sell, because you spend many hours focusing on those items, and you’ll have to put a lot of love and time into it. Because of the many sellers on Etsy, it can be tricky to rise above the competition. So I recommend participating in team games that can boost views & favorites.

Try to focus on a product that is unique and will make you stand out. Talking with a successful shop owner will help you avoid early pitfalls and having other social media accounts is very helpful too. Don’t forget about signing up through a friend, so both of you get the free listings bonus!

Meet Hannah in the Living Grace Blog Meet the Maker series! In addition to fighting Lyme disease, Hannah creates beautiful thing for women and kids of all ages!

Is there anything else you want to add or share about you and your shops?

Everything I make and sell in the shop is out of fabric or yarn. I use a regular sewing machine instead of a serger, with a focus on infinity scarves – lots of plaids, knits a silky. I sell tons of kids scarves, and then supplement with wristlets and lanyards, headwraps, arm knitted scarves, pacifier clips, and button earrings.

I’m so thankful for the bonds and friendships I’ve gained through having an Etsy shop. It’s been healing, encouraging and brought joy to my life. Kami, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to hang out on your beautiful blog!

Exclusive offer for Living Grace readers!

Hannah has graciously extended a limited-time offer to you lovely readers in her shop! Her handmade scarves are perfect to add to your fall style. 😉
Simply visit TrendyStop on Etsy and use code BLOGLOVE15 when you checkout to receive 15% off your TOTAL PURCHASE! Offer good through October 15, 2016.

Be sure to find Hannah’s shop and social media and say “hi!”

TrendyStop Etsy Shop
Facebook | Instagram

Check out these other posts...

Behind the Maker Series: Kacie Fleming

This is the first installment of a new series I’m starting here on the blog entitled: Behind the Maker! Each month I’ll be featuring a shop owner who not only creates beautiful things and runs their own business, but is also a chronic illness warrior.

Today I’m beyond excited to introduce to you Kacie Fleming, the maker and owner behind not just one, but TWO highly creative shops: Katya Valera Jewelry and Streetlights at Midnight. I met her on Instagram this year where we began connecting through our healing journeys. She is a sweet soul, full of light and authenticity and I just can’t wait to share her story and creations with you all!

In addition to hearing about her life as a business owner and chronic illness warrior, she has something special to offer you lovely readers! So be sure to take advantage of that at the bottom of this post! (Or share this post to give a “hint, hint” to someone in your life…I won’t judge.  ;-))

Meet Kacie Fleming

Katya Valera and Street Lights at Midnight

Connect with Kacie on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Favorite Quote:
“He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” [ Psalm 107:14-16 ]

Favorite Food: Plantain fries. Odd I know, but seriously just sliced up and fried in olive oil and pink salt. They are amazing. (Dip them in guacamole!  🙂 )

Favorite TV Show: My favorite TV show is definitely Friends. As with most shows it seems, it has its issues, but it is great for a much-needed laugh and perfect for background noise while I’m working on my shops.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your family?

I grew up in West Virginia on a gorgeous cattle farm (cows mooing and the sound of a Ford truck will always make me happy…) with my parents and older sister. Both of us are grown up and married now, and I have the most adorable niece and brand new nephew. I’m very close with my family, and my mom is a huge supporter on my journey to healing, as we are both on the same journey.

I live with my husband of four years in North Carolina, and he is the most patient, long suffering, hardworking man I (and probably most people, honestly) have ever met. He lives this crazy ride of chronic illness along with me, and I know I could not have gotten through these years without him. We met at college my senior year, and though I graduated with my B.A. in Creative Writing, the infinitely more valuable result of that education was finding him!

When were you first diagnosed with your chronic illness?

I was originally labeled with Fibromyalgia in January 2011. I had just graduated college the summer before and had become mysteriously sick, seemingly out of the blue, soon after that. Fast forward three years and lots of prescriptions later, the whole time assuming that I had no choice but to stay this sick, and I discovered the world of holistic medicine and eventually my true issues.

I finally learned in the summer of 2015 that I actually have Babesia (a Lyme co-infection), Celiac Disease, the MTHFR gene mutation, Leaky Gut, mercury poisoning, autoimmune issues, hormone and liver issues, and other various issues all teaming up to make it no wonder I was so sick—and a wonder I’d been functioning as much as I had.

Behind the Maker Series

What effects has illness had on your life?

Illness has absolutely, completely changed my life. It’s inevitable with chronic illness that every decision you make comes to revolve around your health and, in my case, the quest for healing. I’m unable to go out and get a job, getting to go to church is a rare occurrence, and accomplishing things like laundry and dishes is a big deal.

My dreams have been indefinitely put on hold, and my college degree has been collecting dust. But I’ve finally found real hope for healing, which I can’t believe I never knew existed, in holistic, homeopathic treatments. We are witnessing the healing slowly but surely, so I am trying to not let those dreams slip totally out of reach. And I’m finally using my degree a bit in my card and print shop.

Can you tell the readers how you landed on the names of your two shops?

Katya Valera (pronounced KAH-tyuh Vuh-LAIR- uh), my handmade jewelry business, definitely has a unique story. I love Russian and took it for two years in college, during which time “Katya” was my nickname. “Valera,” means “healthy”. So the two together essentially mean “Healthy Kacie,” which I am not, so this shop is my defiant act of creativity and productivity while being too sick to go out and get a “real” job.

Streetlights at Midnight, my original card and print business, was inspired by my long-time love of the light-shadows that come from streetlights shining against the wall in soft oranges in the middle of the night. It seemed fitting for a shop that focuses on encouraging gifts for those struggling with chronic illness or any other kind of trial.

Behind the Maker Interview on Living Grace Blog

When did you first open each of them? What inspired you to open?

I first opened Katya Valera in fall 2011 on a complete whim. It wasn’t even called Katya Valera yet. I had been searching online for bridesmaid jewelry for my upcoming wedding and kept seeing all these clay rose pieces that I loved. Several YouTube videos later, I decided I could totally make those myself. Within two weeks I had bought supplies and opened my shop with ten pieces of jewelry.

We’re now coming up on five years of this shop and I’m so glad I just went for it. My jewelry has evolved a great deal over the years, but it’s helped me stay sane during the hardest years of my life. It’s also ended up being my small attempt at fundraising for my medical bills.

Streetlights at Midnight has officially been open for only about a month now. Though, my cards have been part of another shop of mine, which Streetlights at Midnight has now replaced, for about a year.

I got the idea to have a card and print shop last summer, as I’ve submitted to greeting card companies in the past. A couple were accepted but I still had all these cards I’d written and nothing to do with them. So instead of dealing with submissions and rejections it occurred to me to just make and sell them myself.

How do you manage running a shop while fighting illness? Do you have others who help you?

I run both shops entirely on my own, which is honestly how I like it! My husband helps when I need to vent or make big decisions and is also my photographer when I need to model the jewelry myself. Otherwise, it’s all me: planning, designing, writing, photographing, editing, listing, making, and packaging.

It helps that this is a very flexible job, so generally I can organize my work around my body’s needs. At times it does get rather overwhelming, but that is usually self-induced (overachiever perfectionist, anyone?). And I really don’t know what I would do without these shops. They help me feel like I’m accomplishing something while also being fulfilling creatively.

Chronic Illness Crafter, Kacie Fleming

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is thinking about opening their first shop?

There are three things that I find most important to consider:

  1. The cost. Consider how much each piece of whatever it is you’re making will cost you, how much you’ll have to charge for it to make a profit, and if you’ll have the finances to keep it all going.
  2. Your business name. As I mentioned, my shop began as a whim, so I started with a name that I’d only thought about for a few days. A few months down the road, I realized that it needed to be changed. So I had to go through the trouble of re-branding, redesigning my shop, and getting new business cards, etc. The process was worth it, but it probably could have been avoided.
  3. The legal side. This type of information oddly seems to be a secret in the world of small business, but it’s important. Find out if your state requires a business license (probably) and if you need to be collecting sales tax and paying that, along with regular income tax (also probably). Your state might have a small business association you can consult.

I wish I had known these three things when I was planning to open my first shop. Though in retrospect, they may have deterred me from jumping in. So in a way I’m glad I didn’t. But life would have been a whole lot easier in the long run if I had. 😉

Anything else you want to add or share about you or your shop(s)?

This year at Katya Valera I started releasing seasonal collections, along with a seasonal box, KV Wishbox, that precedes each collection. It lets you browse and pick from the selection at a huge discount before it’s officially released. I’m so excited about the new Summer Collection that released in June, “Drops of Summertime,” which was inspired by the quintessential moments of summer days and nights. We’re talking watermelon, starlight, honey, sea breezes and more—it was a lot of fun to plan!

The Fall/Winter Collection is now in the works and will hit the shelves in October, with the Fall/Winter KV Wishbox releasing in September. I highly recommend checking it out on its website and taking advantage of it when the time comes!

Meanwhile at Streetlights at Midnight, prints are coming soon. All original quotes currently available as printables will also be available in tangible form, which I’m very excited about and eager to launch as soon as I’m able. And special gift sets are coming soon too—more ways to encourage those you care about!

Original quotes, downloadable encouragement cards

A special offer for Living Grace readers:

Kacie is offering a limited-time discount to all you readers for both of her shops!

Katya Valera: Use code LIVINGGRACE for 10% off through August 13th

Streetlights at Midnight: Buy two printed or digital cards, get one FREE through August 13th. (Just purchase two cards, then let Kacie know in the note at checkout which card you would like to add.)

Don’t forget to follow Kacie’s shops & blog!
Katya Valera: Facebook | Instagram
Streetlights at Midnight: Facebook | Instagram
Life & Dreams Blog

Check out these other posts...