From Interstitial Cystitis to Business Owner

by Brittney.
(Texas, USA)

I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC, a chronic condition of bladder pain and inflammation, also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome PBS)in December of 2008. At the time, I was only 18 years old and a senior in high school.

While I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis (I had been going to doctors for 5 years to find the cause of my pain), I had a hard time accepting it. There is no cure for IC. I had to change my diet and learn to manage stress.

At the age of 14, I had begun making my jewelry. It became an outlet for me. It was fun to do and a stress relieve.

I never really had any plans to start a jewelry business or any kind of business for that matter. It was never a goal of mine. My first year of college changed my thinking. I wasn’t like other people my age. I had limitations, my body had limitations.

At one point I became so sick, I had to drop out of college. Since dropping out, I decided I really needed to focus on my health. I had only ever had two jobs since I was 18, and I couldn’t handle them.

I had a hard time sticking to my diet, and just recently I have found out that I am gluten intolerant as well.

I knew I needed to find a job I could do at home. A job where I had complete control over the amount of time I worked, and, more importantly, a job that allowed me to still focus on my health.

In June 2011, I started Between 5th & 7th Fashion Accessories. I have never been more thankful for having such a hobby as jewelry making.

It has given me the chance to focus on my health and healing, while continuing to do what I love.

Between 5th and 7th Fashion Accessories at Etsy


by: Leigh

What an inspiring story of how you became a business owner. I always say that those in business do so to control their own destiny. Fine example you are setting. And loving the jewelry too.

by: Michelle/

Wonderful story of how your business came to fruition, and Leigh your comment was right on about controlling destiny, very insightful!

Resilience in the face of adversity
by: Rena

Brittney, I love that you’re not giving up – so many people would want to just throw in the towel after all you’ve been through.

Awesome that you keep bouncing back and finding new ways to work around your health issues. I have to say that your ability to bounce back and find work-arounds is a tremendously helpful skill for your jewelry business.

BTW, you probably already know this – but if you still want to do college or further your studies, there are a ton of great options for learning through online schools / colleges now, which could be easier for you to fit in around what’s going on in the other areas of your life.

I also wanted to mention that I love the necklace you posted above!

Wishing you healing and better health – and every success with your new jewelry business.

Keep up the great work, Brittney – and please keep us posted on your progress! We’re all pulling for you.

We have things in common!
by: Jodi Dickerson

My business started very much the same as yours. I have epilepsy, conversion disorder, fibromyalgia, and bipolar disorder and panic disorder and I have been unable to work a traditional 9-5 job since 1999. I have been making jewelry since for the last 13 years, it wasn’t until recently I realized I was not going to be able to work a regular job, that I too needed the time to focus on my health and raising my son but I did need to bring in an income. So Designs by Jodi was born. I am on Facebook at Designs by Jodi and you can also find me at Jodi Dickerson. I would love to talk with you. It sounds like we have some things in common. So friend request me and we can chat sometime.

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  1. Michelle Mahala says:

    I was also diagnosed with IC. I can completely relate with your post as it took over 7 years to find the cause of my pain. Not to mention the surgeries and tests, etc. which were all supposed to help.

    I am thankful that I had been making jewelry since I was in my early twenties just for fun, like you no real plans to take it anywhere. I worked through the pain for a great number of years and finally it was so bad I tried short term temp jobs, but was even let go from them because for any number of reasons from taking pain medication on the job, to spending too much time away from my desk in the restroom, etc.

    I even had to put my jewelry on hold for a time because I am a few classes from completing my MBA and am determined to do so… once that is complete I will get my jewelry business, Mahala’s Trinkets, back up and running.

    Best of Luck to you!!! … you are not alone.

  2. Good Job! Hang in there..I also agree with Rena about online college classes. There are even classes available in Jewelry Design. Your designs are beautiful!

  3. Susan Baker of "Susi's Workshop" says:

    Brittney and Michelle,

    First off, I want to say to both of you: Congratulations, on getting your businesses up and going. You both are inspiring, and I wish many more years of good fortune and good health and good wishes on you. I am also very glad that you have chosen to share your “stories” with us.

    Just like you both, I am disabled. I don’t have the same issues as you do, however i do have a brain tumor called Hypothalamic Hamartoma(HH), poly cystic ovary syndrome,diabetes,Fragile X Syndrome. Like both of you, I love to make jewelry, and can not work a real job either. So, as i am looking to the future I am hoping that I can get my business up and running just like you have done. And I was wondering if you have any advice for anyone trying to get their business up and going more.

  4. wow, I thought I was reading about my LIFE.. I also have IC and was diagnosed in 2009.. I am making Jewellery my self and for 4 yrs .. I was in a car accident , I suffer with fibromyalgia and Alloydynia a chronic condition with endless pain.. I love making my Jewellery

  5. you can find my work here, I love designing and making things as I have my whole life.. as a result of an accident I find my self loving what I am doing.. my pain with all the stress of it goes away 🙂
    I am slowly working towards my Dream.. I aspire daily to continue to succeed with my Jewellery Making and designing …

  6. Hi ladies!
    I looove Rena’s material and love having found Pysically Challenged Artists Support Group, but I am having a hard time navigating how to read stories like this on Big Tent. 🙁 I also have IC, plus others, which make it so difficult for me to prepare food for IC diet relief, plus make my pieces, and especially to get them sold, so that I can afford to keep creating. So I have many questions for others in the group! If anyone can give me tips on where to go in the site/on the page in Big Tent, please do. I have an Etsy shop and a FB page, but don’t know much about computers, or the “lingo” so those haven’t generated any sales! I did 5 local shows last year (my 1st yr.) but it was way too taxing on me physically and financially. I just had my 1st “live” jury (other shows I just sent in pictures & was accepted) and I think I blew it. I would love to read how all of you are selling (esp. those in wheelchairs). Keep on posting–you bring others hope! Thanks Rena for sponsoring Disabilities and Jewelry making!

  7. Lorelei56 says:

    I’m glad you’re sticking with your jewelry making despite your pain. It’s so frustrating to have “hidden” illnesses. I, too, have IC, asthma, blood sugar issues, and, most debilitating of all, IBS-D. I can hold down a full-time job only because my boss and co-workers are understanding. It’s so hard to find the time and energy to sit and create something, but the reward is so satisfying.
    Hang in there, y’all!

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