Who the heck is that?
Stephen drinking some Hobbit drink in New Zealand
How it all started
Right before the pandemic hit, I was working as a singer on a cruise ship. Ivan, my fiancé, was also working on the same ship as an officer. Things were great! We traveled the world together, made enough money to live our lives to the fullest, and we had the intention of continuing on this path.
But you never know in which direction life is going to violently throw you.
Before the US fully acknowledged Covid-19, I received an email from the British performance company for which I worked basically demanding that I work for the next two months without pay. Instead of paying me for the required two months of rehearsal (in which you fly to Northampton, England, stay in provided housing, and get professionally trained) they instead realized that I had the capabilities to just learn the repetoire on my own and tried to bully me into doing so without pay, thereby forgoing the required rehearsal period.
I said no, obviously. I was NOT about to work for free.
They responded to my refusal with a deeply unprofessional email response basically stating that I was ungrateful to even have a job in the first place.
This is when the cogs started turning in my vacation-mode brain. I realized that I had spent the last few years working for a company that didn't give a crap about me. I was part of THEIR company.
Why couldn't I be part of MY company?
I turned to Ivan in the middle of a T-Mobile store and, while a specifically enthusiastic salesman interrupted us incessantly, I told him, "I was just fired."
This was hard for Ivan to hear. We had already planned to work together for the next six months on an Alaskan cruise. Yikes.
I explained to him as gently as possible that this would be the perfect time to realize my dream of owning a crystal shop. I had been wanting to do so for years, but found it impossible to maintain a crystal shop while traveling on a cruise ship.
After about one minute of thought, he turned to me and said, "Okay. You should open a crystal shop."
Phew. Thank goodness he was onboard AND believed so whole-heartedly that I was capable of forming a small business with absolutely no experience and nobody in my life to whom I could turn for advice.
It was only a few days later that we received the first news of Covid-19, and only a few weeks later that the British company I was working for had to close for the foreseeable future.
Thank you, karma.
I got to work building this small business, trying everything I could. I made a few mistakes along the way which led to experience, which then led to me having the confidence to post feed sales on instagram. Then story sales. Then live sales. Then creating a website to track orders. Then finding a better shipping partner. Then creating facebook ads. And now, well, I still have plenty more to accomplish.
What about Ivan?
Ivan did have to go back onto the cruise ship eventually, leading to a 4-month period of long-distance for us. We had already done long-distance dating before, so it wasn't a problem. He completed his final contract on the ship, we took a few weeks in Bulgaria for a vacation (he is Bulgarian), we rescued a kitten from the streets, and then we moved into a new apartment in New York! Ivan just finished his interview to complete our fiancé visa and we will start the new year planning our wedding.
The ACTUAL 90-Day Fiancé.
Ivan helps with the functioning of the business AND keeps the apartment clean (since I am a hopeless mess of a person). He's also low-key an incredible chef and cooks about four times per week. Needless to say, I am lucky to have him.
A Rescue Kitten?
We were visiting Ivan's investment apartment in Varna, Bulgaria. You should know, the Bulgarian government prefers allowing stray cats to live on the streets rather than bring them in to euthanize them like the US government. They have a "live and let live" mentality about their animals. So, there are a lot of cats roaming the streets. As a cat-person, this makes me so happy. However, they are usually grown cats. When we got to Ivan's apartment, we saw a baby kitten (about 1.5 months) who was playful, friendly, and curious. After buying some cat food for him and playing with him on the street for about 10 minutes, I looked at Ivan and said, "Let's take him."
Ivan wasn't expecting that, but quickly said, "Okay."
So, we snatched him from the street, took him to the veterinarian's office for his first anti-worms treatment, and brought him home! We gave him his first bath, which he loved, and proceeded to get his Cat-Passport together so we could bring him to the United States. He's now the most spoiled cat in the world (since Ivan feeds him fancy feast every night and buys him toys constantly) and also, potentially, one of the safest and happiest. Who knows what would have happened to him as a kitten on the streets in Bulgaria.
Oh, his name is Yani. Yani roughly translates to "Yang" in Bulgarian. As in Yin-Yang. And its the perfect name for such crazy, Yang-energy cat.
Anywho! That is a little bit about us! We host Live Sales on Instagram twice per week and we are always open to more questions during those events! Come hang out @gemspritecrystals. No purchase necessary to be a part of our Gemsprite family!