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West Michigan teen designs jewelry to change lives

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 07:36:40-04

LOWELL, Mi. — A west Michigan teenager found what she says calms her brain, and it's not only changing her life but the lives of others.

Star Shooters was born out of some pretty dark times. Like many of us, Mara Carbines' struggles intensified during the pandemic. It took one spontaneous Amazon order to help get her on a brighter path.

Today this successful jewelry business not only serves as an outlet, but it's sending a message of inclusion and acceptance - and raising money for very important causes. "Star Shooters has always been a lifelong dream, like ever since I was little.”

To many people, Mara Carbines is still little, but you can be sure this 15-year-old has experienced a whole lot of life, both good and bad.

She says, "I was struggling with a learning disability that was undiagnosed and anxiety and then just trying to navigate friends and your pathway and trying to figure out teachers and everything. It can be really hard.” Add on a global pandemic and the stress of quarantine - the struggle got intense for Mara.

She found her own way to cope one bead at a time. “We were all thinking - literally me, my parents were like ‘oh just be like a month thing you know, get us through like the hardness of January and February, just get that little push’ and it just like started taking off.”

The name, so fitting, because Mara's almost accidental business is catapulting further than even she expected. Today she's sold more than 25,000 pieces through Brody's B Cafe in Ada, all in the name of mental health. She donates 66% of her profits to non-profits like i understand, dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention.

Mara wants to make sure she’s supporting charities dedicated to mental health because she knows how hard things can be. She’s happy to share her story. “Nobody is alone - even if you do feel alone because everybody will feel alone at some point in their life. There's always somebody that is probably going through something similar and it's just a great feeling and I want people to feel like that.”

Mara also hopes she inspires everyone to find their “thing” - that outlet that helps them cope. "The hard times, especially the rough days can equal something great in the end. So, if you have a rough day and you come home, you're like I really want to make an earring that looks like this, or some days you'll just come home and be like I don't actually know what I’m making. Then you'll just start putting things together, and that looks cool - you keep making more and then you lose track of time. But it all turns out good in the end.”

All good in the end - with the love of her family, her community, and of herself, the sky is not the limit for this capable, creative young woman. She says, "everybody needs to shoot for their dream, even if it doesn't feel right at the time. When you're sitting in the darkest of your times, it's hard to lift your head up and like look at everything in front of you, up above or just being able to look up and look at the stars - it is really great.”

These days, Mara is recruiting others to help in her designs, plus she gets donations of old costume jewelry, beads and other pretty things to make into her unique designs. And while she donates most of what she makes, she did save up enough to buy her own car - which she is also fixing up with her dad.

If you’re interested in grabbing a coffee and checking out Star Shooters, you can visit Brody’s B Café in Ada.