Our Origin Story
Everything was right on schedule… right until it wasn’t. And it all started with a question.
“How do I get home from here?”
That’s what my mom asked when she was at the store one day. We were on the phone (we were always on the phone. I called her before work, during lunch and on my way home—she was my best friend and I was OBSESSED).
It wouldn’t have been such a weird question, except that she was only three blocks from home. And for the fact that she kept asking it. I thought it might have been stress.
But it wasn’t stress.
It was early onset Alzheimer’s. My mom was just 56.
As a nurse who cared for people with dementia, she was the one who needed to be cared for now. She’d always told me, “When you lose your memory, you lose yourself” and worried about being put in a home one day. So I quit my job and I made her a promise. “It’s gonna be you and me, Mom. We’re a team. We’re going to have a different lifestyle but we’ll still have a life.”
I moved in next door into my aunt’s basement. It had wood paneling and fluorescent lights that shook and flickered when you turned them on. It was like living in a log cabin in the middle of Brooklyn. (That’s where our name comes from.)
A period of self discovery
Living in the log cabin and being my mom’s caregiver meant tearing everything down and building everything back up. From taking down walls and repainting to understanding how to take care of my mom—and myself—self-care took on a whole new meaning.
Self-care looked like:
- Cooking healthy, plant-based meals. With my mom’s type 2 diabetes, I had to give up on my old take-out ways and learn to prepare healthy, plant-based meals for us.
- Speaking to myself in a kinder way. When I became my mom’s caregiver, our roles flipped. One challenge was that I couldn’t just give her orders and expect her to do them. I had to learn how to talk to my mom in a different way—a kinder way—so that she would listen. Doing that day in and day out started to rub off, changing how I started speaking to myself, too.
- Prioritizing relationships and slowing down—Before caregiving, I hustled so hard (remember that promotion?) that I never made time to connect with people. That changed when I started having to schedule brunch dates with family to keep my mom engaged and her mind active.
So why jewelry?
Finding ways to keep my mom engaged wasn’t easy. Most of the activities I tried to get her involved with, she hated. (She’d scream. It was a whole thing.) But then my sister suggested I try taking my mom to a jewelry-making class.
And that’s when I found the one thing that brought my mom back. She was in love. Once she got started, she couldn’t stop. She made necklaces on necklaces. As fast as we gave them away to friends and family, she made more.
By including jewelry making in her schedule, I was able to finally find a daily routine that worked for both of us. I didn’t realize how badly I needed that. I’d been going non-stop, trying to make a better routine for her, all to my own detriment as a caregiver. Which is why it’s so important to me now that we find a rhythm to life that’s going to work for the both of us. Boundaries are a form of self care, too.
The ALCIB shop
One day at a Farmer’s Market, a woman stopped my mom to ask where she got her earrings. My mom was too shy to say it, so I told her that my mom made them. She asked if we sold them anywhere, and that’s when I knew we needed a shop (there were only so many pieces we could gift!).
ALCIB expanded from an educational blog on self care, mental wellness and caregiving to our jewelry collection that’s always influenced and inspired by my culture (Mom is from Trinidad, Dad is from Panama and I’m from Brooklyn), femininity and the journey my mom has been on with her disease.
Each ALCIB collection is high quality and sustainable with an edgy and unique look. The [kab-in + fee-ver] Collection is mainly curated; the Charity Collection is all handmade; and the Revive Collection are mainly crystal pieces.
10% of each sale goes to benefit and raise awareness of Alzheimers—so you can look, feel and do good with every purchase.
Hustling non-stop isn’t heroic, it’s harmful. As women, many of us do so much for everyone else and leave ourselves for last. By the time we eventually get to ourselves we are so depleted in our energy that we don’t even have it in us to self care.
Join us on our mission to change that. To self care with sparkle!
Nikki + Ma'Dukes~