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MADE IN THE USA

Show Off Straps, and all of the jewelry we manufacture, is made right here in the United States of America. We manufacture in Rhode Island, which used to be the Fashion Jewelry Capitol of the World until outsourcing to China and later other parts of Asia. Today there are very few factories and trades people left. The “The Heart & Soul of Americans were sold to the Chinese” for cheap labor and higher profits. Well, we are taking it back, one product at a time, by manufacturing in the United States. And it’s been difficult. It shouldn’t be this hard to develop a product and bring it to market in the United States of America.

We can’t always get all the components that we need made in the USA, like crystals, because, to the best of our knowledge, there are no manufacturers of crystal rhinestones in the United States, so we have to buy crystals from a USA Distributor. So, we are Made in the USA with imported crystal rhinestones.

Many products say “Designed” or “Assembled” in the USA, but that’s not manufactured in the USA. It appears they do this to put “USA” on their labels and make you think it’s manufactured in the USA, when it is only designed or assembled in the USA. Show Off Straps is really manufactured in the USA.

The steps we go through to manufacture our jewelry pays for these small US businesses:

The Chain Manufacturer
The Distributor of Crystal Rhinestones
The Cutter
The Gluer
The Plater
The Polisher
The Caster
The Tooler
The Jewelry Cad Artist
Our Jewelry Consultant & Project Manager

When we do a photo shoot we put money back into other businesses, mostly small businesses, by paying for:

The Modeling Agency
Models & Wardrobe
Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist
Studio
Photographer
2 Videographers
Lighting Expert
Editor
Traveling Expenses
Hotel & Restaurants

Other expenses include:
Packaging Company for Jewelry Boxes
Shopping Bags & Tissue Paper

Online Store:
Web Designer
Domain Hosting
Multiple Apps (47 Apps so far)
Email Marketing

And the list goes on and on.

So, we sell our product and put the money from our sales right back into American businesses, mostly small businesses, to manufacture and market our products. We are investing in America. And people like you, who are also concerned about this, purchase Made in the USA Products first.

One product at a time, we will bring our manufacturing back home.

Susan

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HOW DID I GET HERE?

It all began 17 years ago with a pair of bra straps. Frustrated that I could not wear all the dresses and tops that showed my shoulders, because I have to wear a bra, I made a pair of pretty bra straps for myself that looked like jewelry and became a part of my outfit. Everyone wanted them.

So, I set up a booth at a dance convention. My husband, Mike, and I are social ballroom dancers, it’s our hobby. From one dance convention came another, then another, then another and on and on. But this is not just dancers … It’s for everyone …

Women would go home and wear my bra straps out to malls, restaurants, weddings, etc., and tell me stories of being mobbed by other women asking what they were wearing everywhere they went. Suddenly I was getting phone orders from all over the country and even as far away as France, Canada, England, etc.

Women were telling me that they were shopping for clothes to wear with the bra straps. They loved the bra straps so much that they became the most important part of their outfits because it solved a huge problem, the bra straps comfortably held up their strapless bra and made them feel beautiful. So now they could wear any style dress or top that they desired without thinking about their bra straps showing.

So, I added clothes to wear with the bra straps … spaghetti straps, halters, off the shoulder, one shoulder, strapless … suddenly the doors to the world of fashion were wide open to all women. No longer did they have to put back that dress because it showed their bra straps.

I found myself traveling all over the country on Southwest Airlines with eight fifty pound boxes. I was sought after to vend at all the popular dance conventions. My booth was big and beautiful with spinning mannequins adorned with crystals sparkling over their shoulders and down their back. It was very pretty !!!

I would go from the airport, to the hotel, and stay up all night putting my booth together … no more dancing for me!! Once I went to Puerto Rico and I never even got to see the beach!! From airport to hotel and back again.

It was hard work, but everything worthwhile is hard work. I was always working and still am. But, it was better than what I did before, I was a legal secretary for 25 years in South Florida, mainly Downtown Miami, before making my first pair of bra straps. One of my favorite quotes is from Mohammad Ali who said “The Will Must Be Greater Than The Skill”, how true this is. You have to have the WILL, because this is not easy.

My company evolved over the years. There were many twists and turns along the way. But every once in a while, through my persistence, I would meet someone who would open a door for me, especially with sourcing and manufacturing. I insisted from the beginning that all of the products that I manufacture be made in the USA. That was difficult and still is, because when I go to trade shows almost everything is made in China, Korea, India, Vietnam, all over Asia, but not here in the United States. There is something wrong with this. The last big trade show I went to there was only one pavilion for the USA and they were selling products made in China, but that’s another story for another blog.

Ten years went by and I was tired of my house looking like a factory. So, I saw an ad for an office on Ocean Drive. It was farfetched, but you never know until you ask. You can’t be afraid to ask. So, I met with the property manager. He said, “Would you like to see a storefront?” I thought yeah, sure, but, I agreed and it was on the “second” floor. The Second Floor !! He made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse, so Mike said let’s take it, you need a place to work out of anyway. So, we signed a lease as a temp.

Not really realizing what a “temp” was, we had a channel letter sign installed. Management was very impressed that we would do this when we were only a “temp” and could be kicked out at any notice. Who Knew ?!?!?!?!

So now I had to work even harder. I had to work every art show, farmer’s market, festival, gift shows in the malls, every local outdoor event, selling my bra straps while at the same time promoting my boutique on the second floor, to bring people up there and many came !!!

Three years on the second floor went by and one day the rental agent for the shopping center walked in, saw all the women shopping, and said “Time to move to the first floor.” So they moved me down to the first floor, right next to the grocery store. You would think that would be a goldmine, the best location ever, but there was only one problem … it is in an inside corner that no one notices. Yikes!!! Here we go again !!!

Five years later and the boutique is still there in the corner and very well known. But being in the corner continues to be a challenge. Our boutique “Very Boutiquey®” has been in the Sea Ranch Center for 9 years.

Meanwhile, we had a really pretty little warehouse office space in Downtown Oakland Park on the railroad tracks. I loved that place. Well, after years of being there, the owner sold the building and the new owner wanted me to invest $30,000 and have it ready to open as a retail store in 30 days. I told him that there is no retail traffic in that area and it is so true. No retail store could ever make it there.

So, I found myself looking for a place for my offices. I couldn’t find anything to rent, so I called a fellow chamber member who manages buildings and she said her tenant just moved out and it’s available if I want it. Guess where that was? The Galt Ocean Mile!!! My offices/studio are now in The Galt !!!! A much better location than my other space, especially if we wanted to open it up as a retail store.

We moved into the space, which is only two and a half miles south of my boutique, both off of Ocean Drive, so I don’t have to go over the intracoastal to travel back and forth … NO BRIDGE!!

Next to my space is a great corner space with a beautiful front window, like a bay window only from ceiling to floor. I told my friend, now landlord, if that space ever comes available, I would like to rent it. The tenant occupying that space rented it for about 35 years and had an upholstery business. He decided to retire and guess what ?? We got the space. It was a mess, so Mike and I fixed it up and it is beautiful. Now we have two boutiques, two and a half miles apart, both very pretty and a lot of fun to come and browse around !!

So, that’s how we got to where we are today. It’s been a wild and crazy ride, full of twists and turns. Thank Goodness for my husband, Mike, my mother, Helen, and my son, Jonathan. I couldn’t have done this without their support. We had no idea when I designed my first pair of bra straps on the kitchen counter that we would end up here. My kitchen counter was always in production, in other words, it was always a mess !!!

Never did it ever enter into my mind that I would become a jewelry and fashion designer, own three utility patents, an online store and two boutiques !!!!

Now it’s time to launch my bra straps called “Show Off Straps®”. But it’s more than bra straps!! By connecting rhinestone chains to crystal links you can make bra straps, bracelets, necklaces or belts, any length, color or design. You can change the color to match your outfit. It took years to develop, patent and manufacture Show Off Straps® in our country. Years of women asking me “Is it ready yet”? No one wanted to manufacture this. But with the help of a man that I met, Michael, who worked in the fashion jewelry industry, Show Off Straps® is finished and ready to bring to you. Thank You Michael !!!!

My boutique “Very Boutiquey®” exclusively sells Show Off Straps®. Manufactured in the USA, we sell direct to you, so you enjoy the benefits for buying direct from the manufacturer.

Show Off Straps is sold in my boutiques or online at www.showoffstraps.com and www.veryboutiquey.com.

So, now you know the Story Behind the Story … But Wait !!! There’s More !!! To be continued another time in another blog.

Thanks For Your Time !!! Hope You Found my story Interesting !!!

Susan

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SHOW OFF STRAPS IS LAUNCHED !!

SHOW OFF STRAPS IS LAUNCHED !!

Yes, we launched … no longer will I be asked “when are you going to launch”?

Over the years, we went through a lot of web designers who took our money and never got the job done. It was an endless pit. So many others have told me that they have had the same problem.

Then one day I met Rick.

For five years I’ve seen this guy, with a long pony tail down to his waist, walking around the Sea Ranch Center, where Very Boutiquey® is.

Finally one day I said “Hey, I see you every day, what’s your name?” We started talking and low and behold he has impressive credentials as a web designer and graphic artist. He’s Hired!!!

A month later my online store is launched and it was not an easy job, it has a lot of custom features.

What I love about Rick is that he communicates with me. I sit next to him and he works with me, listening to what I want and never complains about a revision. A perfectionist, he goes above and beyond.

It’s because of Rick that our online store is up and you are looking at it right now. If I hadn’t met Rick, you would still be asking me “when are you going to launch”?

But wait, there’s more!! Next Very Boutiquey® is launching.

If you need an experienced professional web designer who knows ecommerce, I highly recommend Rick Yontz. You can reach him at rick@yontz.biz.

Thank You, Rick !!!

Susan & Mike

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ABOUT THE CRYSTAL WE USE

“ABOUT THE CRYSTAL WE USE”

Customers always ask me “Is your jewelry made with Swarovski® Crystal”? Well, believe it or not, that has become a complex question. I’ll explain:

Swarovski® is restructuring how they do business and who they sell to.
As of October 1, 2021, the Swarovski® name can only be used on finished jewelry that is manufactured only by Swarovski®.

We’ve been informed that companies who manufacture finished jewelry, like us, can enter into a brand control agreement with Swarovski® and, if approved, can still purchase Swarovski® crystal components, but cannot use the name Swarovski®, Austria or Austrian Crystal on any of their products, even though they are made with Swarovski® crystal in Austria.

We have been instructed that as of October 1, 2021, to remove the Swarovski® name, Austria and Austrian crystal, from all marketing channels, including print, social media pages, online store, everything.

So, here’s some background on various brands of crystals:

We have been designing and manufacturing jewelry in the USA since 2005. To the best of our knowledge, the United States does not manufacture crystal rhinestones and beads, so the only choice we had was to buy them from USA Distributors who import crystals made in Korea, China, Egypt, The Czech Republic (Bohemia) and Austria.

Crystal Rhinestones from Korea and China are pressed or machine cut and companies just put any brand name they choose on their packaging. We do not use these brands.

Egypt is Asfor Crystal which is mainly used on chandeliers, but they are expanding their product lines. We do not use Asfor because their crystal, although beautiful, contains lead.

Czech Republic (Bohemia) is called “Preciosa®” where crystal was first developed, hand cut and manufactured. Famous for its crystal glass masters, Preciosa® is among the finest in quality crystal rhinestones and beads in the world.

Austrian or Swarovski Crystal: Daniel Swarovski® was from North Bohemia (Czech Republic) where he learned the trade and worked in the family business with his father who owned a small workshop. He went on to build a crystal cutting factory in Wattens, Tyrol, Austria.

This is what we decided to do:

Our rhinestone chains were purchased and manufactured before Swarovski®’s restructuring announcement and deadline of October 1, 2021.

So, what brand of crystals is Show Off Straps made of?

“The crystal rhinestones that we can no longer say their name.”

As instructed, we took the name Swarovski® off of all our videos, labels, hang tags, online store, etc. It was very expensive to remove the Swarovski® name from all of this. Extremely expensive.

After Swarovski®’s announcement, we decided to change to Preciosa® crystals. Why would anyone spend more money for Swarovski® crystals, with no benefit of using their name, when Preciosa® crystal is just as brilliant, is among the finest crystal in the world and we can say their brand name “Made with Preciosa® Crystal”?

Preciosa® crystals are well known in Europe but not advertised as much in the USA, like Swarovski® is. But Preciosa® has been sold in the USA for decades and are just as beautiful as Swarovski’s® crystals. They both manufacture similar products such as faceted beads, rhinestones, figurines, chandelier prisms, and so much more. They are competitors.

So, we were forced to make a decision:

We switched to Preciosa®. While our rhinestone chains are made with the name we can no longer say, after the announcement we started making our chains with Preciosa® Crystal Rhinestones.

It’s hard to tell the difference between the two brands without a loop, magnifying glass and trained eye. The only difference I can tell between the two is the way their facets are cut and I need a magnifying glass to see that.

As soon as all of the rhinestone chains are sold, that are by the name we can no longer affiliate with our products, Show Off Straps®
will be completely made with Preciosa® Crystal Rhinestones. At that time, our labels will say “Made with Preciosa® Crystals”, but we have to use up all of the other rhinestone chains first because we don’t want label the name we can no longer use with the Preciosa® name.

So for now, our labels will say something like “Made with Beautiful Crystals” or “Made with First Quality Crystals” or “Made with the World’s Finest Crystals” or maybe we won’t say anything at all except that it sparkles.

So now you know. You deserved an explanation. You, as the consumer, deserve to know the brand of crystal you are buying.

Preciosa® is very consumer friendly. You can check out Preciosa®’s website at www.Preciosa®.com.

We have always loved Preciosa® Crystal and are sure you will too!!!

Susan

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THANK YOU, MICHAEL !!!

THANK YOU, MICHAEL !!!

I’m constantly asked, when are you launching your jewelry invention? Well, there were a lot of obstacles. First, we had to get this manufactured and we wanted to manufacture our invention in the USA. Difficult is an understatement. I’ve been told many times that we will never make it if we manufacture in the USA. So, how did we do it? Through persistence and strong will, I met Michael Catuto who worked in the jewelry industry and became a consultant. He worked with the big names such as Liz Claiborn, Trifari, and more. Michael opened a door for us, a great big double door.

With Michael on our team, we are now ready to bring our jewelry invention to market … to you!!

But now there’s been another turn of events, I drove Michael to retirement!! He is retiring from the jewelry industry to volunteer for various nonprofit organizations. He got our invention manufactured and now it’s his turn to do all the things he’s always wanted to do.

We will miss working with Michael and will always be appreciative for all he’s done for us. We consider Michael and Christine to be forever our friends.

Michael designed the special limited edition Poinsettia Crystal Link™ for Christmas. He is a talented jewelry designer.

Thank You, Michael !!

Susan & Mike

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A DOOR WAS OPENED

To be an entrepreneur you have to love the challenge. You have to love building a brand from nothing. It takes over your life and you never stop working.

One of the hardest part of building a brand is finding your sources. But every once in a while you meet someone who opens a door.

Matt Dunn opened that door for me. Matt is a well known fashion and sports photographer with an impressive resume. I told him I needed still photography and video. So, he said I’m going to bring you to my mentor and scheduled a photo and video shoot at Patterson Studios in Winterhaven, Florida. I found myself at a real movie studio with one the industry’s leading photographer, Matt Dunn, and producer/director John Patterson and, his son, Shawn Patterson working with professional models !!

I told John and Shawn what I wanted and how I wanted it done. I wanted the models to walk down the runway straight into the camera from the dark until they came into focus and the jewelry sparkled, then turn around and walk back into the

dark until they disappeared. We must have stayed up till 2:00 am with our models, Jade and Sarah, at Patterson Studios.

First, stylist Jennifer Beverly, did hair and makup. Matt shot still images of Jade and

Sarah on the first set, then off to the next set for video by John and Shawn.

All of the beautiful videos on this site, and in the video gallery, were taken by John and Shawn at Patterson Studios. All of the still images are also in the photo gallery and were taken by Matt Dunn.

I’d like to thank Matt, John and Shawn, for all the work they have done to help make Show Off Straps a success. It was a lot of work. They went above and beyond for me. Not too many people would help us, but they did and I will always love them with all my heart.

Always & Forever Friends !!

Susan & Mike