Great Finds: Heidi Carey Designs

Instagram has been a fun and wonderful place since Jessica and I started the We Are Midlife account. What’s so fun about it, you might ask? In such a big space you really do get to “meet” people. One of those people we recently got to know was Heidi Carey of Heidi Carey Design. Her bold, unique, sometimes Asian sometimes inspired jewelry caught my eye. I had the opportunity to view and try on some of her jewelry and talk to her a little bit about her business. Heidi started out her career in New York, after studying Economics at Barnard College and Design at Parsons, designing accessories for Ralph Lauren. Lucky for Heidi her boss (at Ralph Lauren) was Vera Wang, who became a friend and role model.

I had a few questions for Heidi and I wanted to share her story with all of you.

How did you get started making jewelry?

I started designing and making jewelry a few years back to help me relieve the stress of raising three wild boys and being married to the same man for many years (who I still adore)!


What drew you to jewelry design?

I fell in love with the stones and beads. I use mostly semi-precious cabochon stones which have such great texture and color. I love that every stone is unique and a bit rough.

Heidi Carey necklace with freshwater pearls

What’s been your greatest challenge and biggest joy in this process?

My biggest joy is watching people discover my things and hearing from them how many compliments they get when they wear my jewelry. The biggest challenge for me is helping people understand that my things are an exceptional value without being able to put it in their hands. My prices are much closer to wholesale than retail so many people assume its costume, not real. Once they get things in their hands and try them on, the biggest reaction I get is “wow, what a deal!” which I love. But it’s hard when you only sell online.


Where are you from, where are you located now? Do either of those influence your designs?

I grew up in New York and have lived in San Francisco for the past 25 years. New York gives me my classic leanings and San Francisco opened my design horizon toward the East. Today I think of my style as East meets West. Classic but always with a twist and an effort to be unique.

What is your inspiration?

Forgive me for the cliche…but I get a ton of inspiration when I travel. I usually start in the International Terminal of SFO! Into Hermes and Gucci to see what they have in season…..I just don’t have time in my life to shop the Gucci store unless I am traveling. I typically do a bunch of research before I go anywhere to find local boutiques to visit etc. I am also inspired every day by people who take style and fashion risks to look great. I prefer living and dressing slightly outside the box and when I see others doing it well it’s super inspiring.

What keeps you going?

It’s fun. Yes, it’s hectic, but its fun. I love my customers but also my suppliers. I have a man named Omar who cuts beads for me in Afghanistan. I love carved beads and he has the best I have seen so I have bought a lot from him. He will send me photos for approval from his workshop in Afghanistan. I just love that, its fun and we have become friends. Fun with friends what could be better?

Take a look at her website or her Instagram page @heidicareydesign to see all her beautiful creations.

This beautiful buffalo horn bead necklace has two sides, the four characters mean Good Fortune and the other side means Happy Fortune.

**This beautiful buffalo horn bead necklace has two sides, the four characters mean Good Fortune and the other side means Happy Fortune.

A case study in how to not apologize

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife

This morning Jessica posted this photo to Instagram.

Like a lot of women who are born and bred in Los Angeles I have a difficult relationship with the sun. I love it. I love summer more than anything and if I had a zillion dollars I’d chase the summer all over the globe. Alas, the sun is responsible for most of our skin’s aging and we need to protect our eyes as well. So I’m slathered in sunscreen (read about that on the blog), and often in a hat and sunglasses too. I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look. #romper #ChanelSunglasses #clubmonaco #over40style #realoutfitgram

A post shared by Jessica & Stefanie | Midlife (@wearemidlife) on

You’ll notice that the caption ends with:

I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look.

Jessica and I have very different figures but we are exactly the same size in clothing and shoes. We don’t wear the same things often because every body is different and one of the things that we’ve both experienced since launching @WeAreMidlife is an appreciation for our bodies as support for our minds, emotions, and health. Interestingly all these photos have freed us from some levels of vanity. We wear less makeup, we don’t touch up imperfections (except cracks on walls), and we’ve learned to delight in the photos our midlife community shares on Instagram. It’s a really special corner of the web most of the time.

We share photos of ourselves in outfits and settings where we are not always feeling most confident.

Shortly after posting this morning Jessica texted me a photo that the founder of a blouse company had shared. It’s a woman who looks an awful lot like Jessica sitting on the subway, minding her own business, and looking adorable for springtime. Unfortunately the founder of this company snapped this woman’s photo …. well, you take a look.

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife: This photo was taken of another person without her permission and shared publicly as what not to wear. We disagree. We think she looks fabulous on the outside and we're willing to bet she'd prettier on the inside than the person who took her photo.

You will never convince me that humiliating strangers will sell a blouse. For the record (not that it should matter), this subway riding lady looked good.

Since we share an account, before we do anything that could be seen as controversial we always chat. After a quick phone call to follow up we left the following comment:

Gentle reminder: this is a real person with real feelings. 

After which many other comments were left in the same vein. Some not so kind. Some downright angry. The account owner was defensive and seemed to genuinely believe that this photo was providing some sort of public service.

After a few back and forths with a rabid Instagram community the photo was removed and this was posted. I’ve blocked out the names because we do believe that the account owner is entitled to make mistakes in relative privacy. It’s a small account and we hope that after some introspection there will be enlightenment.

A case study in how to not apologize

@WeAreMidlife has been on Instagram for almost a year now, and we started this account to celebrate women in midlife – but really women at any age. This is the first online community that I can say I’ve created. I’ve found it to be both rewarding and fascinating. Many people that we follow and who follow us feel like friends now, and I enjoy that immensely. This is a new and exciting experience for me.

Recently a woman who I’ve never met before, but have interacted with a lot on Instagram was body shamed. Many people stood up to the bullying, reported it to Instagram, and then Instagram shut down the account.

Glamour Magazine’s Do’s and Don’ts page was a source of young adult angst for me. I remember getting dressed in my early 20’s thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in New York City – I am sure that I am a Glamour Don’t right now.” It took me a while to figure out my style and I made many a fashion faux pas.

I can’t imagine a photo of me being on the internet as the subject of ridicule, can you?

Author Brene Brown said in her book Rising Strong, “appearance and body-image fear- the most common shame trigger for women.” When you want to hurt a woman emotionally, criticize her appearance.

Not long ago former Playboy model Dani Mathers took a picture of an unsuspecting nude 70 year old woman in the locker room of her gym. When she posted it on SnapChat for all of her followers to see it became a crime.

What I saw today was no different than what Mathers did to her victim. Which leads me to say, a 70 year old women should be celebrated, heck she’s at the gym-you go girl! Dani Mothers is now banned from all LA Fitness gyms and has been sentenced to 30 days (240 hours) of graffiti removal and had to take an anti-bullying course. After looking at her twitter account I am not sure she has learned much from this experience.

I am glad to see people standing up to body shaming and bullying in any way.

I am hopeful that we can present our daughters and sons opportunities to build their self esteem so that they are builders of communities like our friend Jaimie. I hope that I’m raising kids who recognize the beauty in the people around them. I hope that younger women on Instagram can see our account and see that there is so much to benefit from by encouraging everyone. First they must have solid role models, and we are obligated to be those role models.

Shopping tips to stay on trend but still in a classic style with straw purses, the must have accessory for spring time.

Straw Bags for Springtime

If you’ve ever sat with Jessica and me you’ve heard us talk about the difference between a trend piece and an investment piece. We are never opposed to owning fashion or accessories that are on trend but we blanch at overspending on them.

Style is lasting. Trends come and go. Every so often there’s a trend that you know is really a classic in disguise and this summer the straw handbag is exactly that trend. It’s a classically elegant style that comes out of hiding once or twice in a decade.

We love straw bags because when you’re trapped in the city you feel like you’re in the country. When you’re trapped in the country you can pretend like you’re on a beach. When you’re on the beach you can shake the sand right out of them without opening a zipper, latch or drawstring.

This spring’s ubiquitous bag is clearly the Indigo & Lavender straw bag from Madewell. You’ll see it all over Instagram and all over town. Sometimes when you see a bag everywhere it’s because it’s a great idea. Sometimes when you see a bag everywhere it’s boring as all get out. We’re going with the former.

We are in love with the giant straw disc.

I have my own favorite straw bags. I have bought them over the years, one was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband. I typically only wear them a few days a year but this season will be different. This is the year that my bags get a lot of wear.

You see, straw bags really are an investment piece. It’s an accessory that’s timeless and will pay you back in a few years when the trend is straw bags and yours is just a little different.

Summer Basket Purses


Here are some great options ranging from  a modest $54 to very not modest numbers

Weaved basket
$54 –

Betsey Johnson glitter handbag
$108 –

JADEtribe round purse
$142 –

Patricia nash bag
$149 –

Orange home decor
$150 –

Edie Parker tote bag purse
$995 –

Edie Parker crossbody tote bag
$1017 –

Mark Cross leather bucket bag
$1786 –
iPad is still a relevant and useful tool

Confessions of an iPad Devotee

One of my favorite Christmas gifts of 2016 was my new iPad. It’s almost embarassing how much I gush about it. I didn’t need a new iPad, my old one wasn’t broken but it wasn’t the new style (and it was Christmas). As soon as I got a look at the split screen and the stylus it was easy to say, “Yes, I want that.” And I pointed my grateful husband in the general direction of the Apple Store.

This is my third iPad, and I appreciate that each has been an improvement from the generation prior.

I am not computer savvy. As I’ve said before, when Jessica approached me about starting This Is Midlife, I made sure she knew that I was not technologically gifted. So I can’t really tell you how many gigs of RAM there are, how many pixels, how much memory there is (I do say I want all the memory there is to the Apple sales person), or all those things Jessica seems to care about. I’ve never had an iPad break, or have I needed to go to the Genius Bar. I hate the Genius Bar. My iPads just do what they’re supposed to do and they do it without breaking.

Before my youngest child started to drive I spent a lot of time in the car waiting. At tutoring. At soccer. At piano lessons. The portability of my iPads have been invaluable. I don’t need wifi and I can do a a hundred different things on them at a time. I’ve used my iPads to read books, catch up on my TV viewing, answer emails, work on our Instagram account, sort photos, and more. Not only do I get to use the thousands of apps out there, but if an app doesn’t please me I still have the option of using my data plan and surfing the net.

My newest iPad is huge, bigger than the size of a sheet of paper. Which has inspired me to draw on it! I primarily work from my iPad (which baffles Jessica), but I still need my computer for some things. Traveling with an iPad is easy peasy since it uses the same charging device as my phone.

While I love to support my local independent bookstore, sometimes when my Book Club has chosen a book that isn’t something I love and I don’t want it cluttering up my bookshelves, it’s just easier to download the book on my iPad. (Sorry Skylight). I am pretty sure that I’ll never convince Jessica that an iPad is a useful tool, but I love that it is an easy trusted companion when I am on the go, making me always feel prepared and always providing me with something to do when I want it.

is skinny a compliment

You’re So Skinny! Compliment or Critique?

Recently a friend called me skinny and it could not mistaken as a compliment. First I noted that my weight is unchanged and I was told that it shows on my face. Then I reflected on the inappropriateness of the discussion. These are not necessarily kind words. Even when they are offered up in gentle spirits.

From a young age we are trained to never tell our friends they look fat or chubby or thick. Perhaps there should be some training for talking to fit and trim girls? 

Note: it’s absurd that I’m the woman defending the “skinny girls” it’s not how I self-identify but it’s a group that every mother of a teenager recognizes as being an undeserving punching bag. 

Sometimes when women are overly critical or snarky I remind myself to be compassionate as I’m likely witnessing their own insecurities bleeding into conversation. However, I find the older I get the less tolerant I am of bad behavior in adults. This recent encounter left me wanting to scream, “We’ve lived half our lives already. Don’t you know better than to be a mean girl?” Instead I defended my weight.

Sometimes being ladylike is freeing, this event made it feel like a burden. 

I’ve worked hard to make myself into the friend that offers a safe place. We are what we do, what we say, how we live, how we give, love and care for the world, and the people around us.

At age 49 I exercise a lot, seven days a week. Exercise reduces my anxiety and stress levels. One of the added benefits of daily exercise is that it helps me keep my weight where it ought to be, and that’s according to my doctor, not a fashion magazine editor. 

In April I’ll be turning 50. 50 is a big milestone for me and though I embrace it I have to admit to not being entirely thrilled by it. My father died at 70 and my mother at 74. This makes me thoughtful about the last third of my life. I work to maintain my health, and like many people there is a fair amount of damage from my 20’s to make amends for. 

As we hit midlife our bodies go through a lot of changes. We acquire some smile lines, grey hair, are more vulnerable to injuries, weight gain, and illnesses. Many of my friends use Botox and fillers and though I think they look fantastic without, it makes them feel good. I tried them and let’s just say that the results were not flattering. I want to use injectables, I just don’t get the desired results. We get a new body every decade or so and have to find out how best we want to feed it, clothe it and care for it. 

Ultimately I know that we have to accept ourselves for who we are and how we look. Our moods and how we live and maneuver though the world should not be contingent upon what the scale says or how many wrinkles we do or don’t have. I certainly want my daughter to know that. I seldom, if ever, discuss dieting or my own weight in front of my daughter. I want to gift her the ability to focus on being the best possible version of herself. That version includes being caring, loving, strong, smart, giving, diligent, hardworking, and resilient.

I don’t see a scenario where my daughter’s best version of herself is measured in her hip size, so why would I punish myself or my girlfriends with such an absurd tool for assessment? 

We don’t celebrate women of every size and age in America, and perhaps even less so in Los Angeles. I understand frustration with being a little overweight and many women over 35 knows what it’s like to have to work doubly hard for a flat stomach. But those skinny girls? Who hasn’t heard (or muttered) the phrase “Skinny Bitch”? 

If you want to avoid being a midlife mean girl let me give you some options. Instead of, “You’re so skinny!” try something like, “You look so fit.” And if it’s a real friend you’d say something more meaningful like, “I’m so happy to see you. How are you?” It’s best to leave the discussions of anyone’s weight to their doctors and dietitians. “You’re so skinny!” is not a compliment, it’s a cut down.


Stefanie’s Holiday Gift Guide

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite gift ideas for the holidays. If you follow us on Instagram and noticed that someone in your life shares my style any of the following would make a great gift for her:

Gucci Horsebit Leather Loafer

Gucci Horsebit Loafer Xmas Gift
I love these two in one loafers with a soft back that can be worn up like a loafer or down like a mule. Gucci is the perfect big gift because of the designer price tag. Since these shoes are a classic they’ll last forever.

Buy it: Brixton Leather Loafer $630 

ClareV Fabienne Crossbody Purse

Crossbody Plum Purse Holiday Gift Guide
The Fabienne Crossbody purse from ClareV is the perfect size, not too small and not too big. Plum is on trend for the Holiday season and it’s moderately priced and still beautifully made.

Buy it: Fabienne Crossbody $295

Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker 

Stovetop Espresso Maker Holiday Gift Guide
I love all things coffee and Bialetti is a wonderful addition to any collection of coffee appliances. Everyone needs a classic Italian stovetop Espresso maker. Stovetop makers hearken back to the espresso your European grandmother used to make.

Buy it: Bialetti Moka Express $22.49


Bose SoundLink® Bluetooth® speaker III

Bose SoundLink® Bluetooth® speaker III Holiday Gift Guide
This is the newest iteration of the Bluetooth speaker from Bose. Let’s face it, we all want to listen to our own playlists where we want and when we want. This is simple to pair with any smartphone or device and it would be the perfect gift for someone just like me.

Buy it: Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker $270

Graphic Images Embossed Leather Journal

Graphic Leather Journal Holiday Gift Guide
Graphic Image notebooks and journal are some of the highest quality notebooks I’ve encountered. Since Graphic Images’ are refillable they are a lifetime luxury product. I have many of these journals. I use one as a journal, another to take notes for work, and a small one that I keep in my purse for note taking during my day while I am out and about.

Buy it: Graphic Image notebook $139

Moleskine Twelve Month Planner

Moleskine 12 month planner Holiday Gift Guide
Jessica turned me onto these notebooks, one for each month of the year. They are small, they can be thrown in your purse or in the cubby of your car. They are great for taking notes that pertain to that month or for the next month, and when you are done, you can toss them out. They can be used in a variety of ways, as a gratitude journal, a planner, or a notepad.

Buy it: Moleskine Twelve Month Planner $40