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Interview with Kristi Sagrillo of Bugaboo Jewelry, Part Three

Updated on July 21, 2012

Kristi Sagrillo

Bugaboo Jewelry Specializes in Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Jewelry

In the final installment of my interview with Kristi Sagrillo, we discuss her memorial Christmas ornaments, the nature of perinatal grief and Kristi's method for working with her clients to create unique and one of a kind customized jewelry.

Christmas Ornament 1

Christmas Ornament 2

Christmas Ornament 3

Part Three

Nicole: Kristi, I wondered what gave you the idea to create Christmas ornaments? What has been the response to them?

Kristi: Every year I either buy or make an ornament for my son, Alex. It has been a tradition for me since he died. And I wanted to share that tradition with other families. They are very popular during the holidays.

Nicole: I love your tradition. It is a beautiful way to keep your baby's memory alive. People miss their loved ones at Christmas. What a lovely way to remember and include that memory in what for some is the family celebration of the year. What has been the overall feedback to your store? Any unexpected reactions?

Kristi: The feedback has been simply amazing. I am brought to tears nearly every day when I hear back from customers thanking me. When I started this journey I didn’t expect to get any feedback. I just wanted to help give families something to hold on to, something I know I desperately wanted to hold on to.

Nicole: Not everyone who has lost a baby has the ability or resolve to do something to help others, to give back what you, yourself, needed to find. What is it in yourself that moved you to start making jewelry for others who experienced such a loss?

Kristi: I needed to fill a void that of course will never be filled. But I also wanted or needed to find something positive to come out of Alex’s death.

Nicole: In addition to the work you do in Alex's memory, do you wear or carry something you have made as a reminder of Alex? Did others give you something to remember him by, or did you create memorial items yourself?

Kristi: I have made several pieces in memory of Alex, but I think my most treasured pendant is the one that holds some of his ashes in it. It is a beautiful sterling silver oval and I wore it every day for the first 3 years. Yes, I had many friends and family give me things to remind me of him, but no one gave me any jewelry.

Nicole: That sounds beautiful. Do you make pendants like this for others, a pendant that can hold ashes?

Kristi: No, but I would really love to learn how to make them. The one I have was purchased from the mortuary. They are very expensive and I would love to be able to make them just as beautiful but more affordable.

Nicole: I was surprised by the pricing of your work. It is so affordable, and I wondered if it covered your costs for materials and time. I have seen less complex silver pieces that are not personalized or customized in the $50 and up range.

Kristi: I know. I do make a small margin on my pieces and the price of Silver is going up every day, which is worrying me. I really want to keep my shop affordable. It is really important to me that everyone is able to have a memorial item to remember their baby by.

Nicole: Do you have moments of grief as you create jewelry for others who have experienced a pregnancy loss? How do you cope with the reminder of how common and terrible it is? Is there a way to turn grief into something else through the act of creation?

Kristi: In the beginning my grief was overwhelming. But as time goes on it does get “better”. You never forget but after a few years I learned to integrate his death into my life. I can’t change things as much as I would like to and it is so important for me that I do things in memory of Alex so that he has a legacy here on earth. Unfortunately no one outside of my family will ever get the chance to meet my son but I want people to know him and that’s why I do what I do. I guess for me pregnancy and infant loss is a part of my world now so I don’t look at it as a reminder but rather as my reality.

I am not sure if you can turn grief into something else. I still believe you have to go through it. But out of grief one can create beautiful acts or moments. And I think for myself my acts of beauty are seen through my work.

I think for myself anyway, I started “giving back” in small ways. I would volunteer for organizations like the “Walk to Remember” and Children’s Hospital. It just felt comforting to help others during a difficult and dark time in their life.

Nicole: How did you find your way through the grief and confusion, before you began to be able to give to others? What did you do, yourself, to help heal and move forward?

Kristi: We all know that everyone grieves differently. And while I agree with that statement I also agree that finding solace with others who have gone through a similar loss helps the grieving process tremendously - at least for me it did. Knowing that you are not alone was a huge help to me and my husband. We also joined a couple’s support group through our local hospital for parents who had recently lost a child. That group was instrumental in helping us go through the grieving process. The facilitators were amazing and there is no way we could ever repay them for the support they gave us. (I am now a facilitator myself.) I also joined MISS which is another peer support group and I can’t say enough wonderful things about this organization either!

I know it sounds so easy when I describe it above but the process was a long one. Unfortunately there isn't a time table for grief

Nicole: You are very active in your work to help bereaved families in several capacities. Is it difficult to find balance?

Kristi: Yes, but I have found a great balance between my family, my work-life and my bereavement work. I find joy in all of them.

Big Brother of An Angel Washer Pendant

Brother of An Angel Footprints Pendant

Someday I Will Be A Mom Locket: Outside

Someday I Will Be A Mom Locket: Inside

Nicole: I wondered if you made memorial jewelry for your children, or if you receive requests from customers for something special for a grieving brother or sister?

Kristi: Yes, I made my two sons glass tile pendants for each of them to wear. But I have had several clients request sterling silver jewelry for siblings. They turned out beautiful!

Nicole: Were the designs unique for the customer?

Kristi: Yes, they have "Brother or Sister of an Angel" and then on the back were the name of the sibling who died.

Nicole: Beautiful. I wonder if you had heard of others making pregnancy loss jewelry before you began making bracelets and selling them on Etsy? Or did you have the idea on your own? Did it come up out of your own need for something to hold onto?

Kristi: Before I decide to open up my shop I had found two online shops that created memorial jewelry. They are wonderful sites and I highly recommend them. But what I wanted to do was different from them in that I wanted to make mommy jewelry that included pregnancy and infant loss. I found beautiful jewelry that was classified as mommy jewelry but it seemed like it was for living children so I took that idea and incorporated loss into my pieces.

I believe I was the only one on Etsy dedicated to pregnancy and child loss jewelry when I first started, but since then several have opened up. Which I think is wonderful! Because 5 years ago I struggled to find remembrance jewelry. There wasn't much out there and finding it was difficult at best. It think that this is changing at least I hope so. I think just knowing that remembrance jewelry exists is of great comfort to those going through a loss like this. Knowing that it is appropriate to grieve and remember a baby that no one or very few people will ever meet, I think is enlightening to them.

My experience has been that the subject of pregnancy and child-loss is very much a taboo topic, at least in our country it is. I have had several clients contact me and thank me for selling remembrance jewelry and many of them have never had a loss but wanted to reach out to someone who had. Most of them had no idea that it was even OK to give a gift to someone grieving a baby and were hesitant to even bring up the subject, but after seeing my shop they were put at ease. So even if I don't sell another piece of jewelry I know that I have made a difference in at least one woman's life in breaking down the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss and hopefully made her journey a little bit easier.

Nicole: I've found others who sell pregnancy loss jewelry but their styles are very different from what you do. I wonder if you foresee yourself ever working with or training under a jeweler to expand your repertoire? To learn what you need to know to try out other designs?

Kristi: I would love to!!! Unfortunately unless I win the lottery I won't be able to do that until my kids are grown. But that's OK, I can wait.

Nicole: Do your children have an interest in the jewelry you make? Would they like to learn how to work with silver?

Kristi: My sons don't, however my daughter loves to sit and do her beads with me. (She is four).

Nicole: I noticed that you have also sold jewelry for someone undergoing fertility treatments.

Kristi: Yes, I have a beautiful locket that was designed for a woman going through IVF.

Nicole: Was this another customer requested design?

Kristi: Yes, I would not have ever been able to create it without her help

Nicole: Are you open to being contacted by customers for any type of jewelry? What is your normal timeframe for finalizing a design to completed piece?

Kristi: Yes, I never turn anyone away. I have done several pieces for clients who have not had a pregnancy or infant loss. I have created two pet loss pendants and several pieces for mommies who have not had a loss but love the artwork. I even created a piece for an engineer in the Ukraine with a Pi symbol and numbers. I ask for two weeks from the time the order is submitted until I ship, but typically I am able to turn them around in under a week.

Nicole: What is the average number of orders you are currently receiving per week?

Kristi: On average around a dozen a week.

Nicole: That is amazing. Kristi. You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me tonight.

Kristi: Thank you.

I Can Make Life: Poems about Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy and Birth

I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace.
I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace. | Source

About Nicole Breit

Nicole Breit is a published author and poet. Her debut poetry collection, I Can Make Life, explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and birth. I Can Make Life was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard Poetry competition. Her essay, “For Tristan: A Meditation on Loss, Grief and Healing” was published in The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage (Wombat Books, 2011). She is also the author of a number of online pregnancy loss resources. Follow her writing journey on her blog, Writing for my Life, or on twitter @NicoleBreit.

Continue Reading This Interview

In Part One of this interview with Kristi Sagrillo of Bugaboo Jewelry we discuss the background and beginnings of her online shop specializing in miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy and infant loss jewelry.

In Part Two of our conversation, Kristi explains the technical aspects of her memorial jewelry designs, her most popular items and her Etsy store's far reaching success.


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