Services in Crown Heights
We’re excited to showcase some of our talented service providers in our neighborhood.
EMILY CHARLES AND DESIGNS BY AMETHYST
Emily Charles is a Brooklynite; she was born in South Brooklyn and grew up in Mill Basin and currently lives in nearby Georgetown. Her education was completely at Catholic schools, Bishop Ford for high school and St. Francis College where she got a degree in education. She subsequently taught nursery school for the Dept. of Education. At the same time she got married and started having children; she now has three boys who are 2,4, and 6. Even though her education was all Catholic, Emily went to a large Protestant church. It was there that she volunteered to organize a Mother's Day celebration in the basement of the church for 150 people. The first event was regarded as a big success and Emily went on to organize four more. During this time she married and had her first child. The year 2013 was a turning point in several ways: First, having started a family and envisaging more children to come, Emily realized she could not to continue as a full-time teacher and began thinking about other things she might do that would work better with her status as a mother. Second, her cousin Woodley, one of the pastors at Mosaic Baptist Church encouraged her to join the church, which she and her husband did. She is very involved with the music program there, often acting as lead vocalist while her husband plays the keyboard. Third, in thinking about the work she did as a volunteer for Mother's Day celebrations, she realized that the skills she had developed could be used to start a business. She wanted that business to be a reflection of her deep religious faith. Thus, she came up with the name Amethyst Designs. She said, that the “amethyst is a stone that symbolizes being filled with the desire to please the Lord. That is my daily endeavor and also my business's primary mission....” Pleasing the Lord also means pleasing her clients.
Emily has created a complex set of steps that she goes through to discover what her clients want (which they might already know exactly or might have no idea about). She starts with an Inspiration Meeting to talk about options and find what clicks. Then there are further meetings beginning with one at a venue so that she and her clients can refine what they are doing with more and more detail until they are ready to get a 3-D Design, a small scale model of what the setting will be, something like what architects do. Emily sees her job as telling a story. A wedding might refer to how the couple met, what they value and what their tastes are, and of course, Emily will bring all that together into a harmonious whole. She must not only find out her clients wants but also who they are. The meat and potatoes of her business are birthdays, showers, and weddings. And Emily wants to be known as a certain kind of event planner. Some of the elements are elaborate floral arrangements, beautifully set tables, and lovely decorations. She seems to use light colors and lighting that is soft. Her brand seems tasteful and somewhat on the feminine side. It is hard to imagine her handling a bachelor's party or a tailgate event at a football game or a certain kind of hard driving corporate event to inspire the salesmen to try harder.
Emily uses the usual social media to promote her business, but for most clients her website is a second step. Most the them find out about her through word of mouth. The satisfied customer is the best advertisement. Through the grapevine Emily came to get the job of designing a somewhat different event, the Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals Tribute Dinner. They apparently liked what she did as they have come back for more, and Emily likes working for a cause she believes in, getting medical care for individuals with low incomes. Thus, her business has grown year by year as news about her service spreads. What Emily offers is someone who can come to an understanding of what her clients want and then can organize all the pieces to make it happen. She must have a vision and also an eye for the smallest detail. She must know what she is after and convey that to her vendors, who more and more are people she has dealt with regularly. This orchestra might include various sections, a menu, china, glass and service plates, a venue, a staff of waiters and servers, flowers and other decorations, music and a sound system, and Emily is the conductor who makes all the parts perform in harmony. Usually the process works well, but not always. Emily tells a story of a client who added a hundred people to an event but only told a vendor. In such situations, Emily says she just smiles, stays polite and works her way through such problems She loves the creative part of assembling what is really a work of art and then seeing the effect on the client; “I love seeing the look on my clients' face when they see the room for the first time....” Apparently no one's face falls.
So if you have an event, get in touch with Emily Charles at echarles@designsbyamethyst. Or take a look at Designsbyamethyst.com. Tell her I sent you.
Everyone has real estate agent stories, good and bad; I am here going to tell a good one about Krystal DeVille, someone I only know through observation. And this is what I have observed. She works entirely through word of mouth, so she only gets more business if her customers are happy. She gets plenty of business. Another thing is she is honest, if she doesn't have it, she will not say she does, if she doesn't think what she has is right for you, she will tell you that. Her opinions are sound. She gets to know her clients; many become friends, and she is very, very smart about people. God knows, she has met all kinds. She now works for Sheffey Realty but I have on occasion seen her at Belinda Realty. She came to real estate after working on Wall Street for many years, so she knows about money as well as people. She adores her family even though they can be difficult -- some are very emotional and artistic, and some are brainy and a bit on the analytic side. Her favorite is her niece Abigail Dawn DeVille who is also a famous artist (you should definitely look her up). Krystal would make many men very happy, but she has devoted herself to a very complicated relationship, the ups and downs of which are not easy to follow. After having heard many episodes over the years, I have come to the conclusion that both partners like complications and have reduced them to a kind of dance. After eleven years of doing this dance they may marry. Of course they may not. And looking from another angle, some would say they are already married. They have definitely put in more energy on this relationship than most married people do. So now you know -- need a place to buy or rent? You cannot go wrong with Krystal.
Carla McAlary runs a consulting business called XXVII Consulting. It is directed at those merchants who may not be using the tools provided by the computer to best advantage. She is particularly interested in those who may be a generation away from having grown up with computers or may be immigrants from places where computers are not as developed as they are in the U.S. She can be reached carla@XXVIIconsulting.com or 845-430-8890.
Carla is also a community activist. She did the training provided by the parks department to become a Super Steward and organized an event on New York Avenue to take care of the trees there. On Sept. 29 a group of about eight came out to aerate the soil, remove debris and put down mulch around the trees on New York Avenue near Sterling Place. Unfortunately two of the trees had died over the summer, but the rest seem to be fine and will be doing even better because of Carla's efforts. Those wishing to become Super Stewards should go to nyc.gov/parks and look under "stewardship" or call 718-392-5232.
For many people there is a division between how they make a living and what they are passionate about. For the lucky few, passion can also be a good source of income, but for most there is a career and then a hobby, an interest, a deep involvement, or even an obsession. In the case of Sandy Edmund I would say the non-career activity is a passion, one planted long ago that only recently has come into full growth. She was born in Grenada and emigrated to Toronto in the early 1070's when she was twelve years old. She was largely educated there and came out of college with a major in business. She became an assistant in a firm trading stocks and later got a certificate as a legal assistant and that eventually led to a position at Time Warner where she has worked in the legal department. That has gone on for more than sixteen years, and it seems that Sandy has enjoyed the work and done well at it.
And here we turn to that seedling planted long ago in Grenada. Sandy vividly remembers that when she was a child and there were ailments, rashes, fevers and other problems, the answers her parents found often lay in natural medicines, the ingredients of which were to be found right outside the house. Traditional ways of doing things by and large worked. And this stuck in her mind. When she was in Canada with her family in a cold dry climate she found herself becoming dehydrated with all the associated problems, and she also found that the commercial products available were not effective. So she began to experiment with creating her own solutions to the problems she faced. The basic ingredient she took from the past was coconut oil – good for the skin, good for the hair, and in fact, good for almost everything. Sandy's current small business named Bree and Milly after her parents, now sadly deceased, has on its current menu 21 items. Seventeen of those items contain coconut oil, and for many it is the largest ingredient. From using coconut oil to resist the Canadian weather, Sandy has gradually created an ever longer list of products and has become more sophisticated in her efforts. One big step was taking a course in herbology which largely dealt with north American plants, but Sandy's main interest was the study of Caribbean plants/herbs. She regularly took trips there as her interest grew and began looking into what was available, and eventually she began combining the two.
With more materials to deal with she began a systematic effort at experimentation, creating more and more products and trying them out carefully. At first these products were for herself, friends and family, but eventually a business bloomed almost four years ago that works according to two paths, one is the internet where Sandy has created a good, informative website – www.breeandmilly.com and the other is a cart that she often takes out on weekends. She goes to special events; when we talked she was getting ready for a trip to Harlem for a fair. However, her usual places to set up are along Eastern Parkway, sometimes at the Brooklyn Museum and/or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She enjoys the back and forth with the public; she says she meets many interesting people, and people are thrilled by what she does, and she is great at explaining what she is up to, but the rest is hard work. She holds down a full time job so her evenings are devoted to mixing ingredients and creating the products. She has to stay on top of her inventory and order in bulk, fill online orders, make sure she has what she needs before she goes out with her cart. And then setting up the cart is a chore as is taking it down. And then there is the need to do research which involves traveling and experimenting with what she finds. It seems she has effectively been doing two-full time jobs over the last four years.
All that may be changing now. Bree and Milly may be the next step in Sandy's life, and she may be able to devote herself to it full time. When it was suggested that she might hire people to handle certain parts of the business and expand in several ways, Sandy was noncommittal. “We'll just have to see,” she says. However, the wheels are clearly turning. One has to say, she has everything to make this business thrive – a set of all natural products in an environment in which more and more people want just that, also an era in which ingredients are listed on the product and more and more people shy away when they see long names of chemicals, and according to this writer's experience at least one product that works very well. The “muscle/pain relief salve” is a winner at relieving lower back pain, which led to a good night's sleep which led to picking up litter the next day with no pain at all. There is a long list of testimonials on the website. And it is a relief to recognize everything listed in a product. Coconut oil-basted lotion has the following: Calendula, Castor, Coconut and Apricot Oil, Cocoa, Mango and Shea Butters, Beeswax, Scented Oils (or Unscented), Vitamin E and Love. There are also various scents that might be added. How refreshing! The smells of these products are also wonderful, all derived from the garden or nature.
One should definitely try these products out. The investment is modest to say the least, anywhere from $3 to $20, and the feeling that they are safe and effective is invaluable. When you buy you are in direct contact with the manufacturer who genuinely wants to hear what you have to say and will be responsive to that. Compare that to being on hold waiting to talk to a computer buried in a terminal god knows where. And the response may be “We value you as a customer, please hold on, we appreciate your patience,” spoken by a voice that no real human being has ever actually used. Bree and Milly is an entirely human operation directed at humans, and that is wonderful, a courageous stand in world in which larger and larger entities want to reduce everything to a cipher.