Well hello there! First off, thank you for joining me on my newest embarkment: my very own lifestyle blog!
I would like to first off tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Randa Carrabba (gosh, I love saying that!) and as of today I have been married to the love of my life for exactly one month. My maiden name was Randa Yezak and most of you know me through my business journey with Southern Jewlz Boutique. And if you didn’t previously know me, let me give you a quick run down:
I grew up in the small town of Bremond, Texas (population 876) where I graduated Valedictorian of the High School class of 2005. In high school, I was that super well rounded and involved in as much as I could be type of girl. Only 3 days after graduation, I moved to the metropolis of Bryan/College Station to become a first generation Aggie! I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Animal Science and business and was the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Nominee for the Brown Rudder Award (The overall top senior of the entire University; the highest honor that can be won). Many people don’t know this about me, and I normally don’t mention it because I don’t want it to seem boastful, but at this new stage of life I am super proud to own up to every aspect of the building blocks of my life! But can you imagine being my Advisor, Parents, Grandparents or any other mentor whenever I decided to set my diploma and expense paid Master’s Degree aside to pursue my hobby business after graduation!? That’s right, in college I made my own personal jewelry for myself which then turned into my friends, classmates and even people I didn’t know wanting to purchase custom designed jewelry by me. I remember during Christmas break of my senior year of college going to the Brazos County Courthouse to file my DBA for Southern Jewlz because I wanted to operate like a legit business. So after graduation I gave myself 1 year to see if I could be profitable, and if not, I promised my family and mentors that I would get back in school. Now at this time, I had nooooooo idea what I was doing. I had no previous retail experience, there was no type of fashion merchandising at Texas A&M, and my family viewed entrepreneurship as risky over rewarding. So I started learning and teaching myself through trial and error. I would travel to trade shows and set up a booth of my unique hand made items, post pictures to social media (this was legit before there were even business pages on Facebook), and that first Fall/Holiday as a college graduate, I set up shop at a little kiosk in the Post Oak Mall here in College Station. I had one lone little employee that would help me a few hours a week, but I for the most part, I would man that little shop 80 hours and 7 days a week by myself. I would have to beg the security guard on duty to watch my “store” for me while I would hurriedly run for a bathroom break. After the December sales in my little kiosk, I knew I could make Southern Jewlz my career, I just needed to figure out how. So I traveled all alone to my first fashion market and began buying items to resell because I could no longer produce enough jewelry to keep up with the demand of my brand. I soon started looking for my very own store, however commercial real estate can be a very scary task for a 22 year old living on the basis of hard work and prayer. That Summer (we are in 2010 now) the USA Today reached out to me wanting to do a cover story on how small businesses were building their customers, brand and profitability utilizing social media. I remember interviewing with the publishers but not telling anybody about it (not even my parents) because there’s always that 1% that the story won’t be featured. And I am a do’er instead of a talker, so when the story was published on Thursday, July 22, 2010 it came honestly as a shock to myself as well as everyone else. I knew at this time God was showing me a very powerful sign to keep moving in the direction I was going. Within the next month, I secured the location of the first ever retail Southern Jewlz Boutique. It was the cutest little yellow house right outside the city limits with a front porch. The new owner reached out to me personally wanting me to rent the spot, and upon her agreeing to let me paint it pink, it was a done deal! So October 15, 2010 was the first day of business as a retail store owner. My business, both storefront and online, grew rapidly and within a year and a half I had to move to a 3300 square foot location where half was utilized as my storefront and the other half as my online warehouse. Amongst the growth and change of the company, I never changed the name from my “hobby jewelry creation” company because I wanted my store to be friendly, inviting, fun, and to encourage young women to believe in themselves, find their own identity, and to be empowered by my lead. I focused the brand on what it meant to be a “Southern Jewl”. Southern – down home, hospitable, saying yes ma’am and no sir, loving front porches, football season, and Church on the Sunday with the family. Jewlz – to be beautiful from the inside out, to compliment other women, to obtain success while being dressed to the nines, to have the ambition and determination to set the world on fire. And by 2014, Southern Jewlz was recognized as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Aggie owned companies in the Nation! Not only the top 100 – but SJ hit the #11 ranking. To date, I am the youngest female entrepreneur on the Aggie 100 list!
2014 is also another very special and powerful year for me, because it’s the year that I met my soulmate – Grant Carrabba. Grant and I were set up by a couple of young professional friends here in town and come to find out – we were almost neighbors! Yes, he lived only 6/10 of a mile behind me. It was truly God’s will and timing that we had not yet met before, as he was growing and curating each of us individually, preparing us for one another. Matter of fact, Grant and I had only been officially dating a few weeks before I asked him to be my date to the Aggie 100 banquet. Grant has truly made me a better person and a better business woman since we got together. And not to mention, I got to inherit part of Grant’s special fur child Bucky, the miniature English Bulldog.
Grant proposed to me in December of 2015 in some of a group of our closest friends with the Bellagio Water Show behind us in the bright lights and big city of Las Vegas (full story on my SJ blog here). He even designed my ring to where a crown that mirrors my Southern Jewlz brand is what holds the center diamond up – along with the side diamonds being from one of his Grandmother’s rings. Grant began building our dream home the day after he proposed to me (while we were still in Vegas) and surprised me when we returned home as he drove me the lot we planned on one day building on, but construction had already started! And to give you a fun little time frame fact, Grant asked me to officially be his girlfriend on October 4, 2014, then asked me to marry him on December 4, 2015 and we got married on February 4, 2017. That means we dated for exactly 14 months and were engaged for exactly 14 months. And boy oh boy when I look back, the leaps and bounds I have made as a young woman in business since I met Grant.
I recently closed my storefront on December 31, 2016 to operate solely as an online business. I made this decision due to the future of the retail industry moving more and more online, as well as being able to take some time to enjoy our wedding and honeymoon. Plus I could free up some of my work time and flexibility to be the best wife to Grant that I can be. And looking back, this was the BEST decision I have ever made. I am so PROUD of myself for being bold and brave to honestly own the re-direction in my company and to openly and proudly make Grant my top priority over my career. True love is a gift from God and some people search their entire livest for it, while others let it whither away behind worldly belongings, fame or success. And success to me has and always will be multi-dimensional. I worked long and hard as a young single women to develop my own identity, brand and platform, and now I am so thankful of the journey that has grown and developed me. I try to use every lesson I have learned and continue to learn to be a better wife and woman for Grant. He deserves that from me! You can read my Southern Jewlz storefront closing announcement blog HERE.
So now, here I am with my New Name and my New Beginning as a Lifestyle Blogger. I love the woman I am today, because I worked and fought to become her in my past. Throughout my personal blogging journey, I will be sharing some real experiences and life lessons I have learned, as well as my favorite fashions, beauty tips, healthy recipes and fitness journey (I have lost almost 40 pounds and am in the absolute best shape of my life), wedding planning tips as well as more about our wedding, travels, being Grant’s wife, our home design and of course some empowering Girl Boss advice! I hope you’re as excited to learn as I am to share about my life, because I am not yet where I want to be, but the beauty of moving forward each day is a journey I am blessed to partake in.
Thanks for following along and stay tuned for more,