Meet the Maker: Melissa Camilleri of Compliment (Giveaway included!)

Meet the Maker MelissaI met Melissa Camilleri – a fellow Sacramento native – through Instagram (I’m telling you, I love that app) when I was organizing a fundraiser. I asked her to vend at the event but she couldn’t attend, so she donated a beautiful pair of earrings. Though the fundraiser didn’t work out, we kept in contact and since she her business and philanthropic spirit are so inspiring, I wanted to share her story with you.

Melissa started Compliment – her stationery and jewelry line that is just as precious as the words that are written on each and every package – when she was a high school English and AVID teacher. She had been making jewelry since she was in elementary school and when one of her students asked her to make ring to match her Homecoming dress, Melissa realized that people were digging her stuff.

Compliment was officially founded over the Thanksgiving weekend of 2011, and since then she was taken the leap into full small business ownership.

Image from Compliment's Instagram Feed

Image from Compliment’s Instagram Feed

I love your story and how you got started with Compliment. Do you feel like your writing plays a big part in your business?

Writing plays a huge part in what I do.  I never set out to be a jewelry designer.  I just kind of went with where I was called.  My road has been a winding one, but each stage has definitely informed the next.  So although I went to grad school for writing to publish for magazines, and write a book, I’m finding that it’s still a HUGE part of my marketing for my business to be blogging right now.  I’m going to write a book someday, though. 🙂

How would you describe Sacramento in terms of a small business owner? Do you feel it’s a good city for your business to thrive in?

Sacramento is on the verge of so many cool things.  I think there are a lot of young people here who want to see their hometown thrive and support local growth.  Old neighborhoods are being revitalized and there is a definite sense of community here among artisans and people who believe in shopping local to support their community.  

I feel like Compliment is definitely able to thrive here.  I have a lot of local customers who stop by my studio and that I’ve met while having a booth at an event.  There’s a nice momentum.

Can you tell me more about the Scholarship Fund? When, how and why did you start it? How do you hope it will better the community?
YES!  This is where my heart is.  I started Compliment when I was still teaching full time as a high school English and AVID teacher.  I thought it would be a fun, artistic way to help some of my most needy students out who had so much potential but not the means to go to college.  I believe education is the only way to break the generational cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction.  So whatever I can do to help facilitate that for young people with a dream, but with little other support?
 
My scholarship has, for the last two years, been donations out of my own pocket.  We’ve been able to give over $1000, which is an amazing blessing for me to even say.  As my company grows, the scholarship grows.  This October, we are having our first ever benefit dinner and dance at Silverado Design Center and I get giddy just thinking about how much more we will be able to give because of it!
 
Melissa with this year's scholarship winners. Image from Compliment's Instagram Feed

Melissa with this year’s scholarship winners. Image from Compliment’s Instagram Feed

What is the Soul Care Series about?
Because my natural inclination is to teach, I wanted my blog to be of service to my readers.  I noticed that there were some pretty amazing women around me doing some pretty amazing things in the world, living whole-hearted lives, and learning how to take care of themselves.  I started the Soul Care Series because I wanted to talk to women I admire and by whom I’m inspired.  And I like to share!  Thus, the Soul Care Series was born!
 
How do you feel about the philanthropy in Sacramento? Do you feel it could use some more? What are some of your favorite Organizations?
I think there is some amazing philanthropy happening in Sacramento, but YES there could definitely be more.  Having worked in the schools so long, I know that so many kids go without.  So many teachers are spending out of their own pockets to help get kids through their formative years.  So I’m always excited about those organizations–ones that help kids rise up and make good choices with their lives and learn to be civically engaged.  
 
Why do you think it’s good to donate and be a part of the giving?
A close friend just reminded me of this Roberto Clemente quote today:  “If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.
 
I agree with that sentiment.  I feel like I am blessed in many ways.  What good is it if I keep those blessings to myself?  Joy multiplies when it is shared.  I was raised that way– if you can be of service, do that.  It’s the whole basis of my company.
 
Gratitude earrings. Image from Compliment's Instagram Feed

Gratitude earrings. Image from Compliment’s Instagram Feed (PS – the blue ones are offered in a giveaway today!)

How do you hope to empower young women with an entrepreneurial spirit?
I employ young women to learn the behind-the-scenes of running a small business.  Like I said before, it’s in my nature to teach, so I see my business as an extension of that even though it’s out of the classroom now.  
 
What do you enjoy doing on your downtime?
People are often surprised that even though I’m social and I’m comfortable talking in front of people,  I’m very introverted, so I like to be quiet during my downtime!  I like to read, go for walks, meditate, try out new restaurants with my friends.  Hang out with my family.  Float in the pool when the weather allows it.  
 
What do you have planned for the future?
Oh gosh… During these past two years, if I’ve learned anything it is that even if I make plans, often God has other ideas of where I’m headed.  Compliment was never “planned,” and come to think of it, anything that I’ve actually planned out, has just been a stepping stone, not the be-all, end-all.  So I guess my plans are to stay open to this wonderful, exciting, abundant journey, wherever it may lead.
 
Image from Compliment's Instagram Feed

Image from Compliment’s Instagram Feed

Favorite places you frequent in Sacramento?
I live pretty close to McKinley Park, which I LOVE.  So I like to head there to walk.  I also love seeing live music at Harlow’s and Marilyn’s on K.  And I’m a big fat sucker for the burgers at The Hideaway in Curtis Park.  Oh and I go to Cafe Bernardo probably like once a week.  That mushroom salad is off the hook (and I never even liked mushrooms!)
 
Melissa is so awesome that she agreed to do a Giveaway for the pair of gratitude earrings (valued at $32) that she originally donated to the fundraiser! In order to enter, leave a compliment for Melissa on the post in the comment section or through any of my social media sites!
 
unnamed 2You can find out more about Melissa and Compliment by visiting the website and you can click here to donate to her scholarship foundation. Know someone who would be a perfect fit for this series? Leave a comment and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoogle + and Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays

thrifty thursdays

I have always had an affinity for old, beat-up mens belts. Back before Ed Hardy was let loose into the world of belt design. Before “No Fear,” before flames showed up on everything, and even though I love a good frothy beverage, before belts could open beer bottles. There is just something about that simple and clean design that sticks out in my head. The more beat up, the better.

But like everything in life, you eventually outgrow your belts. You start having babies, and the men start gaining “sympathy weight.” You start poking new holes that go further and further out and and before you know it, your favorite belt ends up in a pile you never thought it would see – the donate pile.

Before you go tossing that belt all willy nilly, here are a couple projects that could bring new life to your old belt. If you happen to have (or find) a belt with a rockin’ imprinted design, or an old school big belt buckle – even better.

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Image belongs to Design*Sponge

Recycled Leather and Wood Shelf from Design*Sponge – Kate Pruitt is the Senior Editor at Design*Sponge and has completed over 100 projects for that site. Damn, girl. She used two different belts for this project, both of which she got at a thrift store. Kate brought up a valid point – belts can be rather overpriced, so keep looking if you can’t find one for a good price. Also check out swap meets and yard sales – they may be a little cheaper, and if not, you can talk them down. She ended up finding both belts for under $10, which means that she spent less than $15 on the whole project. You can find out more by clicking on the photo or Design*Sponge link above. You can also find more of Kate Pruitt’s projects here.

Image  belongs to Poppytalk

Image belongs to Poppytalk

Hanging belt vessel from Poppytalk – If you have ever tried reusing glass bottles and it has taken you beyond forever to get that label off, and you start thinking that maybe it would look fine if the label just stayed on. People would get the concept of a flower vase that is completely covered by an olive oil label, right? Well, Jan shared an alternative – peanut butter! It’s delicious and serves multiple purposes! You can get the entire tutorial, along with beautiful photos, and a whole lot more by clicking on the photo or the Poppytalk link above.

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Image belongs to House of Earnest

Leather Belt Curtain Ties from House of Earnest – Along with the Poppytalk tutorial, I got this tutorial from a roundup at BrightNest. Erin’s blog is full of crafty yet classy projects like this, and her photos are both beautiful and informative. She also has a Home Decor section – where she shares home tours, sweet products and interior design ideas and inspiration. If you are looking to beautify your house without a spending a whole lot of money, you should go check her out.

And for an added thrifty bonus: APPLE BUTTER! I am lucky enough to live relatively close to Apple Hill – an amazing place in Placerville, CA that holds a craft fair, a pumpkin patch, and you guessed it – all things apple. While I was there, I sipped on apple wine while eating an apple doughnut. It was amazing. I came really close to purchasing apple butter – until I saw that it was almost $10 for a little jar. DAMN. Now, I’m all about supporting homemade, handmade and small businesses, but sometimes a girl just can’t do it. So I decided I would make my own. Here’s an awesome recipe I found:

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Image belongs to My Baking Addiction

Homemade Apple Butter from My Baking Addiction – Jamie made this recipe in her crock pot, and I just saw another apple recipe she slow cooked – applesauce! I would have to say that I’m not a huge fan about eating apples a la mode. Not sure why, but I usually always have to pair them with peanut butter. We just got some apples fresh from Washington so I would really like to use them up! I think these recipes are both in order.  She also shares baking fundamentals and tips on her blog, so I see her site becoming a good resource for me.

If you have any belt projects you would like to share, or you completed one of these projects, post in the comments and share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest with the hashtag #thriftythursdays. If there is a project you would like to see in the future, please let me know. I hope that this series shows you that there are many things you can do with discarded items that don’t take a whole lot of money. Stay thrifty, my friends.