We believe everyone can make a difference in the world by taking the time to show love, appreciation, and kindness to the people around them! This month, we set out to learn more about the people out there who share this belief and are putting it into action. One story that stopped us in our tracks and pulled on our heart strings, was the story of Krystal and her best friend Robyn. Robyn has been battling breast cancer for almost three years at the age of 31. We sat down with Krystal to learn how she is using her work to Pay it Forward in a positive way and finding the hope in this devastating battle.
1. Krystal, your bond with Robyn seems unbreakable. Tell us a little bit more about how you became best friends and what you love most about her.
I have known Robyn for 15 years. We were 18 years old when we met through a group of mutual rowdy, small town guy friends. I remember the first time i got to meet the famous "Robyn Stoner". We were at the Colorado River and the guys had made a huge mess of the place where we were hanging out. Robyn stayed and helped me clean up. We were laughing, drinking, and joking. I knew right then and there we were going to be best friends. We were both tom boyish, rough around the edges, and other girls didn't really care for us. We were young, naive, careless, and always ready to have a good time. We were the same size, owned the same color pallets of makeup, enjoyed the same music and hung out with the same people. It was always a good time when we were together. We vibed off each other. I loved her smile. Her laugh was contagious. She always made me feel more confident in myself and brought out the best in me.
2. What are some of your favorite things to do together?
We could have fun doing anything. Before she became sick, we loved to party together and let loose. Boat rides on the river, Bbq's, going dancing .. We were young. We made enough money to put gas in our cars and pay for the beer. This was long before we had kids and families, or even the slightest thought of them in our minds. We were invincible and forever young.
But life has a way of moving forward, and today I love watching Robyn with her kids. She is such an amazing mother. I'd have to say that is my favorite thing about the woman she's grown into. Spending time with her and her family is all I need. The last "girl time" we had was for her bachelorette party last year. It reminded me of how much fun we used to have when we were young. Now we're in our early 30's, but it felt like no time had passed at all. Dancing, dinning, lounging, and laughing poolside over memories that felt like yesterday.
3. Tell us about your metal artwork business and how you got into it. Do you have a shop? Website?
Raw Metal Decor, handcrafted metal based decorative artwork, happened over night. I was given the opportunity to start a business using laser cut metal. During the previous year, I'd been pestering my "better half" who runs a laser shop, for a California shaped cutout. When I finally got it, I had no clue what to do with it! It was beautiful and I loved the raw character of it. One day, an old friend of mine came to me with some guidance on how to turn this new passion of mine into a business. Together, we created a plan, a demo product, and even chose a name name. Voila. Raw Metal Decor, and all of a sudden I'm a business owner. I've done almost all my business through Instagram, word of mouth and networking. I started saying "yes" to anything someone wanted me to make and figured out how to make it work. I am a stay at home mom of three, so everything I do is out of my garage. Its a home based company but the metal comes from the shop. I'm working on website ideas and Facebook, but I really love Instagram. The "mompreneur" support that I get on from the app is amazing. Anyone who is interested in one of my pieces can reach out to me there - @rawmetaldecor
4. When you decided to use your art to help Robyn, how did you get started and spread the word?
I called Robyn one day and said "Hey, you should totally draw up some ideas for Breast Cancer decor." At this point, she had been battling breast cancer for about a year at the young age of 31. Robyn has a background in graphic design, and I thought it might be good for her to get back to some work she loves. She was happy to do it. We collaborated closely on the design and execution, and when the pieces were done they were perfect.
I started posting photos of the breast cancer signs on my Instagram and took full advantage of using as many #'s as possible. I wanted to show her my support and find a way to give back to her cause, one that we were both so passionate about. I spoke to the metal shop about comping my metal fees for this specific project and they agreed. The wood I use is all leftover pieces from prior projects that would have been tossed out. I knew after I finished the first piece that I wanted to do something special for her. I couldn't help with medical bills, or even make a dent. I realized that I could save all the sales from the ribbon decor that I sell, and take her for an awesome spa day or even spa weekend! When I revealed to her that she would be my "Pay it Forward" cause, she was amazed. I told her how much I loved her, and how I wanted these pieces to be more than just "business". We are in this together.
5. How has this journey and battle challenged you and what have you learned through Paying it forward?
It's hard to watch my friend go through cancer and especially since she's so young. Her whole family and all those close to her are affected by it. Watching her go through all the treatments and illnesses without fully understanding how she feels makes me feel helpless. All I can do is be there for her, support her through her fight, and stay positive. Together, we're working towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
After two and a half years of chemo and radiation, she recently got her first clean scan. That was an indescribable feeling and I knew in that moment that she's going to beat this. If my efforts can make her feel amazing, loved and unforgettable for one day, then I'll make as many signs as I can and sell my lil heart out. Making and selling the "beat cancer" signs does not only pay it forward solely to Robyn. It's a symbol of Hope strength and courage for the person purchasing it. It Pays it Forward again and again!