Breaking Ground 113 - We Are All Perfectly ImperfectBy Samantha Siedlecki, President and Founder of Paradise Shells and Fine Jewelry
Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha is Born
Why are no two snowflakes identical? For the same reason no two seashells are identical.
Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha took shape on the beach in Jupiter, Florida – my paradise! I wanted to give my mom a special birthday present. Something one-of-a-kind. My mom is Wonder Woman, by the way!
My dad and I harvested seashells and I thought, “What if we used them to make molds to create fine jewelry in precious metals, as a gift for my mom?” So, we did it, and Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha was born! The resulting jewelry was exceptionally beautiful and naturally finished. Just like no two snowflakes are identical, it is true that no two seashells are identical. Each of our jewelry designs is like no other!
We made the decision to leave the seashell imperfections right there where they belong. We allowed the natural imperfections to remain, rather than buffing them out during the process. For this reason, Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry designs are “perfectly imperfect,” just like each and every one of us!
My initial thought was simply to make jewelry for my mom’s birthday. But then people started asking me, “Can you make jewelry like this for me?” So, I thought, “Is there a business here?”
Hi, I’m Samantha
Hi, I’m Samantha Siedlecki, President & Founder of Paradise Shells and Fine Jewelry by Samantha. As a female entrepreneur with cerebral palsy, I pour my whole heart and soul into this company, our fine jewelry products, and our customers. I am working hard to set an example for others with challenges. I hope to inspire them to pursue their dreams.
My vision for Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha is to create a pathway toward greater income and connectedness for people with and without challenges. We launched in October 2021, in time for a successful holiday shopping season. And now our social media presence is rapidly expanding and bringing in new customers. This, combined with speaking engagements, is enabling me to meet new and fascinating people every day!
Why it Matters
People with challenges, who are exceptionally valuable members of society, are often less frequently employed and earn less than peers without challenges. I believe Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha can help reshape the future by example of what people with and without challenges can accomplish when working purposefully together. Anything is possible! Entrepreneurship and self-determination in a business with social vision can help overcome barriers and build bridges or connectedness.
Look Before You Leap
I earned my Master of Science in Social Work Degree from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Family Studies from Lipscomb University. However, one of the best experiences I had preparing to launch Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha was taking a course called Entrepreneurship Essentials from Harvard Business School online. I loved this course and highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. It will help you to learn to evaluate priorities, opportunities, and risk factors.
Also, if you have a disability, be mindful of the implications your venture may have on your Social Security benefits! For my family and me, Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry allows me to fulfill my passion, learn business, and create connectedness. But it will never jeopardize my Social Security benefits. This is a trade-off I accept.
How ECF Choices Helped Me
In 2019, Vocky Turner was assigned as my United Healthcare care coordinator in the Employment and Community First CHOICES program. (Editor’s note: ECF CHOICES is a state program that provides home- and community-based services to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.) I immediately connected with Vocky – she is kind, encouraging, knowledgeable, and truly passionate about helping people succeed. We discussed the importance of participating in meaningful work and community, despite having a disability. Vocky could see how eager I was to work.
She recommended me for the Pathways Internship program, which I am still a part of. I now assist on the UHC Advocacy Team and am so grateful for the comradery and team building culture. This work, combined with my leadership at Paradise Shells, gives me tremendous professional fulfillment. My new UHC care coordinator is Darian Springs, and she is also very helpful.
Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha became a family effort and my passion. My mom and dad are experienced business professionals who take care of the administrative side of the business. I focus on fulfilling my strategic vision for the company. I pay particular attention to jewelry design, social media, authoring articles, and speaking engagements.
I am grateful to my family, the Employment and Community First CHOICES program, and our customers for all their support!
To learn more about our jewelry designs and vision, please visit www.paradiseshells.com and follow us:
- Instagram: @paradiseshellsjewelry
- Facebook: Paradise Shells & Fine Jewelry by Samantha
- TikTok: paradiseshellsjewelry
Author bio: Samantha was born with cerebral palsy and considers adversity the essential fuel needed to fully appreciate and celebrate the joy of relationships and achieving new goals. She holds a Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Tennessee, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Minor in Family Studies from Lipscomb University, and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Essentials from Harvard Business School online.