How to Start Over After Losing Everything?

by Sarah R.
(Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada)

Tragedy recently struck in our community and we lost our home to a wildfire known as “The Beast”.

Along with our home and vehicles my entire jewelry business also succumbed.

I feel like a part of me is missing and I want to get back to creating but I’m finding it overwhelming.

I have a 4 year old little boy and I’m 8 months pregnant as well.

I had planned on taking it easy for a little bit when baby arrived but with our whole world upside down I feel the need to get back to “normal”

I have no idea where to start in creating a new business from scratch.

Farmer's Market Necklace by Sarah Reid  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Farmers Market Necklace with beautiful bird pedant by Sarah Reid

In one way I can cut to the chase and start exactly where I want and create my ideal business.

When I start to think about gathering supplies I get lost.

I had 15 years of making jewelry and bead collecting and I really took for granted searching my stash to find the perfect beads.

Now it seems daunting to order a few things.

I’ll also say that I am limited to ordering online as the nearest craft/supply store is a 5 hour drive away.

I’m looking for any tips you may have to get me started and organize my thoughts. Thank you!

Don’t miss Sarah’s followup posts:
Healing Steps
New Normal in Life and Jewelry

Sarah R
Sarah Reid Designs

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  • Mary Morris says:

    My heart goes out to you. I would start with your tools. Then find an amazing or book with an item that interests you. Order the supplies you need with your own spin on it. If you privately email me, I would be happy to send you a bit of my stash. It won’t be anything fancy but I have been looking for a way to help after the horrible fire.

  • Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about all you’ve been through. Big hugs to you! I’m glad you and your family are safe.

    Here are some suggestions for building up your stash again without spending a ton of money:
    Getting Cheap or Free Supplies for Making Jewelry – includes tips as well as links to lots of further ideas.

    Also, if your area has any thrift stores, Goodwill / Salvation Army stores, yard sales, etc., you can often find jewelry supplies there – along with other things you might use in your business (items to turn into jewelry displays, etc.). Scour them for tools, supplies, and other items.

    Check out some of the Facebook destash groups (you can find them with an online search for “Facebook destash group”) and see if you might get a good deal on supplies or tools that someone else isn’t using.

    And try the Canadian version of Freecycle.

    Also, I don’t know if Canada has something comparable to the U.S. organization CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund), which provides aid to artists whose businesses have been interrupted or wiped out by disaster, medical issues, etc.

    I hope this helps, Sarah! Wishing you all the best with your new baby, and with the new versions of your home and your jewelry business.

  • Maggie Christophersen says:

    I have an overflow of supplies and I’d love to donate. Please contact me if you’re interested.


  • Verna McClure says:

    Sarah, I’m glad to hear you and your family are safe. I’m very sorry to hear of your losses.
    I’ve been collecting beads, findings, etc., for over 10 years and have wanted to sell my entire collection, but am unsure of how to go about it. I would be happy to donate some of my collection to you. If you’d let me know what types of beads/findings you’re interested in, I’m sure I have something for you!
    Please email me when you have time. Take care and hopefully all is well with the new family addition.

  • Kathryn says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Sarah. I have a couple of stores around but find that I’m happier ordering online, the options are endless, you don’t have to go out and fight traffic and you can shop anytime of day – which will be great when the new baby arrives. 🙂 I especially like ordering on Etsy. I like the selection of unique items I can’t find locally.

  • Jackie says:

    My church art studio would be more than happy to donate some supplies for you! Send me an email to wadham97 @ and we can help out!

  • Sarah R says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and offers of help! I was so happy to get the news that I was accepted to recieve funding from the Red Cross through the Fort McMurray Small Business Relief Fund. It is enough for me to buy all new tools and basic supplies to get me started again! A couple of thoughtful friends and fellow crafters have shared some of their beads with me too.
    I started a list to help organize my thoughts and what beads and findings I will need to get going. That has helped in a huge way and it feels a little less daunting. Jewelry Making Journal has been an important resource to me over the years and is extra helpful right now. I’m happy there is such a supportive community of jewelry artists to connect with. Thank you everyone!

  • Jane says:

    So glad you have found a new beginning! I used to live in Red Deer and Calgary and watched the fire progression for days. Hurrah for folks and organizations to step-up in situations like you have been through. I have lots of stash if you would want any – just let me know.

    Hope you are re-settling and looking forward to new baby member.

  • Sandy Stillwell says:

    Hi Sarah, I too, lost my home and everything we owned in the Valley Fire in California last September. I was determined not to make jewelry again. Friends and family came together to bring me supplies. Three bead stores found supplies for me. It was overwhelming. I may not have started again, except for the love and support of friends. I am glad you are safe and wanting to move forward. It is hard, but the hardest part is taking the first step. If you do not have people bringing supplies, consider working with found items until you can build up your supplies again. Sending love, Sandy Stillwell

  • Chula Camp says:

    I am grateful for the abundance that I have. Send me a mailing address to my email. I teach jewelry making and have plenty of supplies and tools to share. I can see from your pictures a bit of what you like but if there is anything in particular you long for, I bet I have some. Sending you best wishes to you and your growing family.
    San Francisco
    chula @

  • Carol says:

    Hi, I too would like to help. It must be devastating to lose everything and have to start over, and support and comfort a growing family, too.
    I have some spare tools and MANY MANY spare beads. Once you get organized, why don’t you post a list of what you need/would like and all of us can help you? No hurry, anytime!
    Heart, Carol in Oakland, CA
    cbernau @

  • Jane Petersen says:

    Over the years, I have changed my focus on the beads I use. I’ll be happy to send you whatever I have. Please contact me at janepete13 @ to give me your address.

    I’m so sorry for your loss and can’t even imagine what that would be like for me. My heart goes out to you and your family, and I’m glad you are all safe. Rebuilding your business might take some time, and it’s important to take care of yourself and your family first. Will you be rebuilding your house on the same site? A friend of mine who lost everything in a fire found that losing her house/home was quite traumatic. Sending warm and happy thoughts and energy to you 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    Sarah. I messaged you on Etsy with some pictures of my destash items if you are still in need. Best wishes!

  • Mary Morris says:

    Congratulations on the Red Cross funding. Best wishes to you and your family. Please post again when you get going and with baby news.

  • Mary Ann says:

    I am so glad you and your family are safe. I saw the fire on TV and it looked awful. As I look around my jewelry work area, I am grateful for what I have and can’t image losing all of it. I’ve messaged you on ETSY. Please send me your address and a rough idea of what you need. Stay strong.

  • Kelsie Roberts says:

    Oh goodness im so sorry about your loss but so glad everyone is ok. I went through the same thing a little while back, it wasnt a wildfire just a house fire but we lost everything too. I was stupid and didnt have renters insurance so everything was just gone. . . . Im still trying to get back on my feet with everything but it will happen someday! Im glad you were able to get some help. Red Cross and United Way did NOTHING at all for me!! I hope you get back on your feet soon 🙂

  • Sarah,
    My heart goes out to you! Reading your story makes me very grateful that I have my home and family intact. My husband’s family is from Cape Breton and when I read that you are a Cape Bretoner, I felt an instant connection with you. I would love to share some of my stash with you to get you back on your feet! If you are interested you may contact me through my etsy shop or through my blog! I wish you and your family the best of luck!

  • Marlies Bates says:

    Sending out hugs your way and thankful that your family is okay. I too can send you some of my stash. I am glad that you are rebuilding your life and business. Contact me: snowwolf12 @

  • Natasha Burger says:

    hugs! it sounds like you will have a ton of new stuff and new friends along with it! I did not lose my supplies, but had a huge life change and didn’t feel like creating for a while – eventually I got tired of looking at Pinterest and not making anything myself and started small, just like when I first started beading – and once I started again the relaxation of creating was totally worth it.

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