Sea Shells by the Sea Shore
– by Monica Parker
Aloha! My name is Monica Parker and I live on the North Shore of Oahu, in Haleiwa, Hawaii. I moved to Hawaii 7 years ago from my life-long home in Florida. Sea Shells by the Sea Shore by Monica Parker – I was born in Miami Beach, Florida and also lived in the Florida Keys (Key West) and Daytona Beach, Florida. I have always lived on or near the beach, so I have always been a lover and collector of beautiful seashells! I love to go beachcombing to search for shells, and I also love to Scuba Dive the ocean floor to search for seashells and treasure!
While living in Florida I graduated from college and became an engineer while raising my son, Chris, in Daytona Beach. I worked with major companies like Apple Computer, IBM, Motorola and most of the automotive industry including General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Isuzu. I traveled a lot with my work and obtained thousands of Frequent Flier Miles, so I was able to take my son on many surfing and Scuba Diving vacations to Hawaii. Chris competed in Surfing contests, so we always came to the North Shore where the surf waves are the BEST in the world, and we fell in love with Haleiwa!
My son moved to Hawaii. Chris decided 8 years ago that he wanted to move to Hawaii permanently and so he made his new home here on the North Shore at Ke Iki Beach. I missed him so much that one year after he moved, I sold my home of 20 years and moved here myself! Now I live right down the road from my son, and right in the heart of the “Miracle Mile” of the North Shore, between Waimea Bay and Pipeline surf breaks. I brought my entire seashell collection with me when I moved, as some of my shells are over 30 years old and have decorated my home and office in beautiful baskets, lamps and as table centerpieces. Everyone that comes to my home loves to look at my seashells!
Chris introduced me to a new seashell here in Hawaii called the “Sunrise Shell”. Sunrise Shells are very rare, they are only found on a few of the Hawaiian islands and nowhere else in the world. They are very colorful and beautiful, but very hard to find. People wake up early, before the sun comes up, to walk the beaches with flashlights searching for Sunrise Shells. In the old days of Hawaii when there were Kings and Queens, only the Royal Family was allowed to wear Sunrise Shells, as they were considered Sacred. Hawaiian legend says the “to find one is a blessing, and to wear one shows your Aloha”. That’s why they are so special.
One year for a Christmas present Chris gave me a simple shell necklace on a gold chain that he had a local jeweler make from a Sunrise Shell that he found. It was a beautiful shell and I was “hooked” and wanted to make some earrings to match, and that is how I started my hobby of making jewelry from Sunrise Shells. My hobby is now my full time passion and business!
When I moved here to Hawaii I did not want to go back into the engineering field as I did not want to drive to Honolulu every day, so I got a job as the General Manager of a small art gallery in Haleiwa. I made many friends of the local artists here on the North Shore, including Heather Brown, Clark Little and Clark Takashima. I wished that I could make a living doing art but I am not a talented painter!
I always wore my Sunrise Shell necklace and earrings to work and I received so many compliments that I started making jewelry for my friends and co-workers. Some of the art gallery customers asked me to make jewelry for them too, so I began to display my Sunrise Shell jewelry in the art gallery showcase. My jewelry soon became a best seller and I was known as the “Sunrise Shell Artist of the North Shore”!
When the economy crashed in 2009 I was laid off from my job at the art gallery. I decided that I was going to try to make a full time living designing and selling my Sunrise Shell jewelry. I spent many, many days searching the beaches and diving in the shorebreak of the North Shore for beautiful seashells. I collected all kinds of shells and pieces of coral and sea glass to make my jewelry with. My son helps me too, by Scuba Diving in very deep water (over 100 feet) to search for the Sunrise Shells.
I worked very hard day and night to build my own website. I designed and wrote all the code for my website myself, and I take my own photographs of my jewelry to display my shells online. It was a slow start and took several months for my website to get recognized by all the search engines. I was worried that this idea might not be very good financially, but I loved my shells and loved photographing the jewelry in beautiful settings. My other favorite hobby is photography. I love to shoot the giant waves of the North Shore, and all the beautiful flowers and mountain scenery of Hawaii. I have some of my best photography on display at the Thomadro Art Gallery in Haleiwa, and the best selling photo is one of my Sunrise Shells! I also have my photography for sale on my website www.monicabytheshore.com.
I am now enjoying my second year of owning my own business and working from home. I love the freedom that working for myself from home provides. I make decisions about how I want to spend my day … some days I may feel like working in my organic garden and will spend my day pulling weeds and picking my freshly grown green beans, squash, peas, cucumbers and lettuce! I also have two pet chickens, “Annie” and “Billy Jean” who each lay one egg per day for me! They are very friendly pets and love to hang around with me while I’m making jewelry outside on my lanai.
On days when the waves are really big and beautiful I will walk down to Waimea Bay and shoot the surf. I always sit on a rock out at the point of the Bay to get as close as I can to the waves as they break. After the big waves have passed it is always a great time to comb the beach for seashells and seaglass – free materials for my jewelry! I can spend many, many hours gathering seashells along the shoreline. It’s a very peaceful task and I am surrounded by such magnificent natural beauty! If the bright sun feels too hot I just put on my mask and snorkel and jump in the ocean to search for shells in the sand at the shore break. It’s a lot of fun, but it is also “working”.
So, all the things that I love to do when I’m not actually “working” making jewelry, are also things that benefit my life, such as growing my own food, raising chickens for eggs, taking pictures to sell at the art gallery or collecting shells for my craft. I’m never wasting my time and I am always doing something I love to do!! My childhood dream has come true, I am “selling seashells by the seashore” and living the “country” life!
In only two years my business has become so popular that the hit TV show HAWAII FIVE-O has bought several pieces for the star, Grace Parks’s character, “Kono” to wear. I have also sold jewelry to the movie “Journey to Mysterious Island” which was recently filmed at Waimea Falls Park. I have also enjoyed a few very large and popular art & crafts shows including the MADE IN HAWAII SHOW in Honolulu and the HALEIWA ARTS FESTIVAL in Haleiwa.
My “MonicaByTheShore” brand is becoming known internationally as I have customers from all over the world ordering jewelry from my website. I am able to make my living and support myself solely on the sales of my shell jewelry and photography, and I feel so blessed and humble to be able to say that! And to think it all started from the love of seashells!
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