Val Hirata, our friend and Swarovski bead designer from Hawaii recently came for a visit.
She is an owner of Creations By You bead shop in Honolulu and CBYSparkle.com. Having just signed a two year contract as Swarovski Ambassador, Val was in town with a group of ambassadors from the US and Canada for a training session sponsored by Swarovski.
All 18 ambassadors got to see new colors, trends and products at the Swarovski North America Headquarters. Long time Eureka Crystal Beads customers will be familiar with her work in the form of our bracelet kits and may have even met her at a show or two!
Chatting over steaming cups of green tea, we decided to share some of her knowledge and wealth of experience as a successful business owner and bead designer and do a little profile. Enjoy!
I ask “Val, how did you get into the bead biz in the first place?”
“I started mostly with hand crafts about 21 years ago. Things like ‘ribbonry’ and sewing. And that’s where the company Creations By You started.”
“About 19 years ago, I started doing jewelry with fancy stones and metal filigrees. Everything back then was glue-on. We used to buy boxes and boxes of leftover jewelry parts and reassemble and glue the pieces all together.”
She laughs at the memory.
“In the last 10 or 12 years is when beading really exploded in Hawaii so we started to get into that. I run the store with my sister Debbie and my mother Kathy.”
“How did you get into designing?” I ask.
“My mom made clothing for us when we were young and I’ve always been drawn to making my own things that are unique and unusual. Things you just can’t find. My dad does flower arrangements. One of my sisters paints and is a pianist and the other one does wedding invitation design and jewelry. So it’s sort of the family business.”
Val adds “I started out only doing simple things, like stringing, for a long time.”
“And then I did simple beaded shapes, like 2 or 3-D bead weaving. I don’t think I ever made anything really good until I entered my first design competition about 5 years ago. It really gave me a reason to sit and focus and make something of really high quality and took my designing to a whole other level.”
“That first contest I entered I got 2nd place in the Swarovski Create Your Style-TM Professional Design category with my design ‘Passion Flower’. I skipped 2 years and entered again about 3 years ago and got 3rd place with ‘Crystal Fantasia’.”
“Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?” I ask.
Val laughs and replies “From my crazy brain!”
“I make a lot of things but mostly I like flowers. Every flower is unique, like every design. I think flowers make people happy. I do designs that are not flower-based to sell but if I do it for myself it’s got to be flowers. I don’t know why but I’m drawn to them.”
Bonita laughs “It’s because you are from Hawaii! There are flowers everywhere!”
Val replies “It’s true and we always had flowers around growing up. The only way that I can explain it is that the beads just ‘talk’ to me and tell me what to do with them, and it’s usually floral.”
She laughs, “I know it sounds silly. But its okay – most artists are kind of kooky!”
I ask “So how did you become a Swarovski Create Your Style – TM Ambassador?”
“Well I teach for Swarovski at the show in Tucson every year.”
“I do design innovations for Create Your Style DIY-TM. My collection is called ‘Love is in the Air.’ So I guess I was on the radar with that and my placement in their competitions. Swarovski went through some of their teachers and others in the industry and I was one of the ones they chose to sponsor to teach.”
“Our job is to spread the sparkle – to promote the brand and its quality. They are a great company to be involved with.”
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Val and good luck as you spread that Swarovski sparkle!
Val will be teaching workshops on ‘Arabella Jewelry Set’, ‘Blossom Necklace’ and ‘Sparkling Fairy Lilies’ (see photo above) in Tucson in February 1-4 2011. Don’t miss it!