TARPON SPRINGS — Three years ago, Arlyne D'Andrea began a humble, home-based business called One Life Jewelry from her kitchen table.
Today, the business has ballooned and her website features more than 200 handmade jewelry designs, many with hand-hammered, inspirational messages like "fearless," "attitude is everything" and "audaces fortuna iuvat," a Latin phrase meaning "fortune favors the brave."
The "mompreneur" hopes that's the case as she takes on a fun, but somewhat chancy venture — the Emmys.
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A few weeks ago, D'Andrea received an e-mail asking if she'd like to provide jewelry for 800 swag bags given to Emmy winners, nominees, presenters and audience members attending the 32nd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, slated to take place in New York City on Monday.
"At first, I thought it was a bit of a cruel joke," said D'Andrea, 42. "I mean, I get a lot of e-mails looking for donations."
But after checking into it, she found the New Hampshire-based Off the Wall Gifts was legit and does indeed provide official Emmy gift bags for all the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy Awards programs.
Val Wilson, who runs the product placement company with her husband, Mike, says they use the Internet to go "headhunting" for small businesses that have the potential to become big ones.
"We are looking for next Mrs. Fields cookie company," she said. "We liked Arlyne's website because it had a really nice look and feel, and the jewelry itself is quite unique."
The idea is that the selected businesses will use the Emmy honor as a marketing tool. And if D'Andrea's necklaces wind up on the famous necks of television news celebrities like Katie Couric, Ann Curry, Barbara Walters or Lesley Stahl — well, all the better.
The canvas totes with the Emmy logo will include more than 30 items worth about $1,500. Goodies include gourmet foods, stationery, candles and items that can be monogrammed or otherwise personalized.
Since D'Andrea didn't have time to make 800 necklaces with hand-stamped messages in time for the deadline, she's donating ribboned gift boxes, each with a postcard inside inviting the recipient to order the necklace, at no cost, through her website.
Recipients have a choice of a 14-karat gold-filled or sterling silver necklace, each stamped with the message, "veritas lux mea," for "truth is my light." The necklaces are worth $65 (sterling silver) or $75 (gold-filled).
D'Andrea isn't certain how much this all will cost her. It depends on the market price of the recycled metals she buys. And she doesn't know how many people, or who, will actually order.
"Whatever it is, it will be an investment of my time, money and heart," she said.
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When D'Andrea began her home business, it was a way for the former New York City fashion designer to work at home as she cared for her sons Nicholas and Matthew, now 8 and 7.
So with her husband Lenny's support, she began making jewelry. She buys raw, recycled metals, cuts and shapes them, and hand-hammers each message, one letter at a time.
Her first piece, a three-star necklace, was inspired by one worn by actor Amanda Seyfried in the movie Mamma Mia!
Online customers come from around the world. Most find her by word of mouth or by surfing the Etsy website, a marketplace frequented by fans of vintage, artsy and homemade goods.
In April, D'Andrea opened up a small storefront at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs called A Simple Peace.
Now she's not sure what to expect, but hopes that fortune does favor the brave.
"This kind of opportunity comes once in a lifetime," she said. "Either I do it or I don't. I don't know what kind of doors it will open, if any."