The Charm Hunter

American Made Since 2011

susan valle

waialua, Hawaii
Treasured photos are transformed into a beautifully designed Photo Chime that resonates with the faintest breeze. Create yours today!
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Tell us about your business.

I admit it - I AM ADDICTED TO CHARMS. I wear them, I study them, I troll for them where I live and travel for those special components that are uniquely one of a kind, no longer in production pieces. It's that layered eclectic mix of pieces that I crave, pieces that have meaning and a sense of history --- some humbling, some precious, some spiritual. For me, things need to have a story; a history behind them. As a wife and a mother, I also a family photo fanatic, which is why making custom photo charms is so close to my heart. So the marrying of my two passions came naturally. Combining re-purposed vintage finds with custom photo charms has not only been my best sellers, but most rewarding for me to create. My favorite American Made product to make is my signature Photo Chime. Photos are encased in silver soldered framed glass and then strung onto a chandelier chime with crystals, charms and found elements. Not only are they a beautiful sight, but they sound lovely too.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

I'm blessed to have had a loft studio that we incorporated into a master bedroom addition many years ago. Bright natural light, cool Hawaiian trade winds, and beautiful mountain views created an oasis for me to work. Good bye to the days of taking up the entire family living room for weeks on end with my projects, or so I thought... We've just sold our lovely home of 20 years to build our dream home. Until then, it's back to sharing the living room AND dining room. Not to worry, an office/craft room has already been established in the new plans.

What inspires you?

The Past... In an age when computer design is a click away and most products are mass produced, it's something special to have a one-of-a-kind handcrafted item. Antique malls are by far my favorite places to get lost. It's like taking a step back in time where treasures abound around every corner, sparking the imagination and childhood memories. I keep a list of the certain elements I'm looking in my wallet at all times. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to see and forget what you came in for! My list includes: mannequins, chandeliers, rosaries, antique buttons, religious medals, and vintage rhinestone jewelry pieces in all colors.

What makes your business stand out?

Personalization... My business is not about "clicking" on an item to be delivered to your mailbox a few days later. It's a collaboration, a personal interaction between me and a customer. That's why Communication and Customer Service is foremost. I respond to all emails within a few hours, thanks to the wonderful SmartPhone. It often takes several conversations to create a personalized keepsake made from the client's requests. From photos, to sizing, to finishes and special touches all taken into consideration when creating a custom item. It gives me great joy to create one-of-a-kind items that are personalized for someone very special in one's life. Whether it be to congratulate, commemorate or just to say I love you, it's from the heart and customized for that individual.

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Dedication, Time & Patience... You will not be successful overnight. As an entrepreneur, I believe that dedication, time and patience are key. It's not a race, but a journey of rediscovering your own creativity. It's finding something that not only brings you joy, but brings joy to others. If you don't absolutely and passionately love it, don't do it.

What does American Made mean to you?

Hand-made and manufactured in America, from START to FINISH. From the idea, to the material, to the people behind manufacturing the item, all from and in the United States of America and proud of it.

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    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.

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    Nov. 7, 2014

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    Nov. 8, 2014

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