I encountered LeCricia Shelton’s $5 Jewelry in August 2019, when a friend shared one of LeCricia’s Facebook Live videos. As jewelry is one of my passions, I clicked on the video without hesitation; and over the course of a few months, I invested a lot—monetarily, at first, and as the global pandemic arrived, emotionally. With COVID-19 came losses for everyone—though the losses were different for each of us. By March, our lives were changing, rapidly and drastically, with little time to process our new reality and diminishing reasons to be hopeful.
March, though, was also the same month that LeCricia decided to “run for the Zi,” which in the world of Paparazzi Accessories means competing to get a piece of jewelry named after one’s self. Seemingly just like that, dozens of women were “buying kits,” becoming consultants, “registering for convention,” and doing whatever else they could to help. Checking in on “our” status each night was stress-inducing but also exciting. Seeing LeCricia every day provided constancy that didn’t exist elsewhere in our lives. When she danced “the windmill,” a dance she made up and performed every time she got a “sign-up” during a Live video, she made viewers smile—even laugh. When she cried on camera because she was humbled by yet another person contributing to her goal, viewers cried tears of joy along with her, tears for the fact that there were still acts of kindness in the world and that they were taking place even in the realm of helping an Oklahoma stay-at-home wife and mother fulfill a dream she didn’t even know she had when she started selling jewelry as a “hobby” two years earlier. The kindness of strangers, after all, we’d like to believe is always certain.
Amidst not being able to get home to take care of my family, having my wedding cancelled (not once, but twice thus far), being separated from my fiancé because of international border closings, and being removed from my students and colleagues, I caught myself smiling when I watched LeCricia building her identity as a successful business woman and simply being grateful in the process. Win or lose (though we did, indeed, win), watching LeCricia Shelton sell cheap jewelry ended up being nothing short of a small miracle—if such a miracle occurs.
So this is really just another lesson about paying attention, about finding sources of hope in the most unlikely places. As the Rev. Joshua Lazard recently wrote about toilet paper, you may not find the brand you like, the brand you’re used to, but any brand right now is the brand you need. Watching LeCricia throughout the month of March wasn’t the experience I was used to, but it was the one I needed. And so I’m doing my best to adjust my perspective, to notice and appreciate more finitely than usual and to redefine what it means to experience something miraculous.