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Community Highlights: Meet Lauren Leung Cramer of Bead Salad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Leung Cramer.

Hi Lauren Leung, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started Bead Salad somewhat accidentally in January of 2021. At the end of the previous year, I had begun making jewelry with the intention of crafting gifts for my friends as well as using up old beads from discarded childhood hobbies. Ironically, the momentum of this process led me to buy more beads, and at a certain point I decided to bite the bullet and start an online jewelry shop via Instagram. I’ve always been and been known as a creative person, but starting my own business was never something I imagined for myself. If anything I had pushed against the idea — it felt like too much responsibility to manage a whole business on my own. I was lucky to have a really supportive group of friends and mutuals who followed my journey from the very beginning. They gave me confidence to keep plugging away at what I was doing, even when most of the time, I really did not know what I was doing. Along with that, sharing my work on social media allowed me to meet other jewelry makers and gain inspiration from them.

The real “lightbulb” moment for me was when I began incorporating fish lures into my work. I don’t know exactly where the idea came about, but as an avid internet window shopper, I can definitely say that my hours of aimless browsing have paid off in that regard. It was very shortly after this that I got in contact with Ap0cene — an online community that supports independent creatives — and they shared my work on their page. That was a very surreal moment as I was suddenly hit with hundreds of people showing interest in my work and asking me how they could buy my fish lure necklaces! It was very much a 15-minutes-of-fame sort of thing but that was the push that made me start treating Bead Salad as a business rather than just a hobby, and that’s how I’ve been operating since.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The obstacles I’ve encountered so far have been mostly internal. I’m currently in my final year of college, and the idea of returning to school in-person while managing my business made me anxious. I didn’t like the thought of potentially having to stop making jewelry, or at the very least having it feel like a secondary obligation. I’ve maintained that I want jewelry making to be enjoyable, and if I reach the point where it isn’t anymore, I will take a break from it. So far that hasn’t happened though! Maintaining balance in life overall is very important to me. I always try to keep this in mind when I approach Bead Salad, knowing that the quality of my work will be a reflection of my mental and emotional wellbeing.

As you know, we’re big fans of Bead Salad. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Bead Salad is an independent jewelry brand owned and operated by myself (Lauren Leung Cramer). I specialize in hand-beaded, one-of-a-kind pieces made from a mixture of new, vintage, and deadstock materials. Having collaborated with a number of other small businesses and local retailers, Bead Salad advocates for shopping small and supporting local creatives.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Understand your value and don’t let anyone negotiate it for you. In any creative endeavor where you are extending your skills (and especially in the position of a young woman of color) there is an opportunity for someone to try to take advantage of those skills. Even when it feels like the easiest way out is to give in and undersell yourself, remember you are setting a precedent for how you value your own work! Individuality is not something that can be monetized. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s so important to support local businesses and artisans: let’s normalize properly compensating creatives for their ingenuity, abilities, and labor.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ariana Fadel, Lauren Leung Cramer

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