glass bead bracelets, beaded bracelets
June 18, 2024

The Inspiring Journey of Sashka Co. Bracelets

The Inspiring Journey of Sashka Co. Bracelets

Sashka Co. isn't just a brand; it's a testament to resilience, creativity, and the power of community support. The story behind Sashka Co. is one of overcoming significant challenges and turning adversity into a beacon of hope and empowerment.

Humble Beginnings in Baltimore

Chris and Anya’s journey started in Baltimore, MD, a city where they faced considerable hardships. Their son, Sasha, was born with Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF), a severe congenital condition requiring extensive medical care. TEF involves an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea, leading to difficulties in feeding and frequent respiratory infections. For Sasha, this meant frequent hospital visits every month, adding immense strain on the young family.

Chris was 23, and Anya was 20 when they were trying to figure out how to survive and take care of their sick child. Living in a modest townhouse in Baltimore, their life was far from glamorous. They struggled daily to make ends meet, often over drafting their bank account just to get by. Chris worked long hours as a diesel mechanic Washington, DC. His job was dirty, greasy, and didn’t pay well. Pulling transmissions out of trash trucks. Meanwhile, Anya was working nightshift as a cashier at Giant grocery store. They had one car and Chris would set an alarm to pick her up at 3 am every night. During the day Anya was going to school and teaching part-time at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to help cover family expenses.

The Spark of Inspiration

In the evenings, Anya found solace in making bracelets while watching TV. Chris noticed the unique, surfy look of her creations and believed they had the potential to become more than just a hobby.

While at the mechanic shop one day Chris decided to create a display for Anya’s bracelets. He took an old, oil-stained block of wood, which he used to support axles on fire trucks. This block of wood was covered in oil and grime, but Chris saw potential in it. He took it to the steam bay at work and pressure washed it to remove all the oil. The cleaned block revealed a unique, rustic charm, perfect for a display stand. He took it home to figure out how to make it into a display.

Chris then drilled four holes into the block and inserted four pegs to hold the bracelets. He wanted the display to be as special as the bracelets themselves. He read about how to transfer images from paper to wood with mod podge. Without a printer of their own, he went to Kinko’s FedEx on a Saturday, printed the logo he designed using the 'S' from Sasha’s name, and carefully transferred it onto the wooden block using Mod Podge. 

That night, Chris went to bed excited but stressed out, knowing they could barely pay their bills, student loans, and medical expenses. The next day, after work, he eagerly went to the basement to wash off the paper, revealing the beautiful turquoise logo on the wood. It was amazing – the blue turned into a surfy turquoise color that fit perfectly with the bracelets. It was like it was meant to be.

The First Breakthrough

While Chris was working on the display, Anya was working hard every night making bracelets. With a batch of 50 handmade bracelets and their unique wooden display, Chris and Anya embarked on a daring mission. They packed their bags and, with baby Sasha in tow, drove three hours to Ocean City, MD, in their beat-up Toyota Corolla. The car had an exhaust leak, forcing them to drive with the windows down. Determined not to return until they had sold their products, they visited tons of surf shops up and down coastal highway. 

After lots of rejections, they finally had interest at Ish Boutique, a small surf shop owned by two supportive women who immediately fell in love with the bracelets and the display. They purchased the entire collection, providing Chris and Anya with a much-needed financial boost and the validation that their hard work was paying off.

The drive back to Baltimore was filled with excitement and hope. They knew they had something special, but the road ahead was still fraught with challenges. Anya continued making bracelets, her hands often aching from the effort. The demand grew rapidly, and it soon became clear that she couldn't keep up with production while also caring for Sasha, working and managing her studies.

Building a Local Presence

Every single Friday for three years, Chris and Anya would go from work to downtown Baltimore to set up a tent and sell the bracelets at a food truck event. This consistent presence helped them build a loyal customer base and gain recognition in the Baltimore community. The food truck events were bustling with activity, and Chris and Anya’s tent became a popular spot for attendees to browse and buy their unique bracelets. Despite the exhaustion from long workdays and late nights, these events were crucial in getting Sashka Co. known locally. 

Spreading Positive Vibes: The Heart of Sashka Co.

Chris and Anya love providing a product that people genuinely adore, and it truly makes them happy. They aim to be a symbol of positivity and resilience, encapsulated by their slogan, "Always Positive Vibes™." For them, customers are like friends and family, and their top priority is ensuring that everyone loves what they receive. Chris and Anya’s dedication to their craft and their customers is evident in every bracelet they produce. They strive to create something that everyone will cherish, spreading positivity and love through their beautiful, handmade bracelets.

Finding Sustainable Solutions

Realizing they needed help to scale their business, Chris and Anya began exploring partnerships. They attended fair trade functions and trade shows, seeking a way to produce their bracelets on a larger scale while maintaining ethical standards. Their persistence paid off when they met Kuber and Sabita, an amazing family who would become their close friends and extended family in Nepal.

They introduced them to the centuries-old art of crocheting, a technique that Nepali artisans had mastered. Inspired by the intricate beadwork and vibrant designs, Chris and Anya decided to integrate their surfy, beachy styles with this traditional craft. They formed a partnership with a family-run cooperative in Nepal, ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions for the artisans.

Growth and Impact

Over 14 years, Sashka Co. and their family has grown significantly. The brand now supports over 450 artisans in cooperatives throughout Nepal and employs more than 50 team leaders in their main offices. The bracelets are made from the highest quality glass beads and threads sourced worldwide, ensuring durability and vibrant colors.

Sasha, the inspiration behind the name, has grown into a remarkable young man and a dedicated rower. He now has a little brother and sister. Chris and Anya's journey from struggling to pay medical bills to building a thriving business is a story of resilience and determination. Despite their challenges, they have built a brand that not only produces beautiful jewelry but also supports artisans and communities in need.

Making a Difference

Sashka Co. is committed to making a positive impact. A portion of the proceeds from each bracelet sold is donated to Feeding America, providing over 3 million meals to families in need. By choosing Sashka Co., customers are supporting fair trade practices and helping to change lives.

Explore our collection and join us in spreading positive vibes and making a difference, one bracelet at a time. Sashka Co. is more than just a brand; it's a story of hope, perseverance, and community.